BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– A film created to explore the history of Buffalo’s Olmsted Park system has earned a top award.
The Society of Architectural Historians picked The Best Planned City in the World: Olmsted, Vaux and the Buffalo Park System as the 2015 winner of the SAH Award for Film and Video. The award was established in 2013 to recognize annually the most distinguished work of film or video on the history of the built environment.
In selecting this movie, the award panel wrote, “While The Best Planned City doesn’t attempt to exhaust every aspect of its topic, it does a beautiful job of informing and opening the eyes of viewers, including some who might not have realized they would be interested.”
The roughly 14 minute documentary explores the development of the nation’s first park system, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1868. They wanted to give Buffalonians an escape from the city, within the city. At the time, Buffalo was
He was the most famous landscape architect in North America at the time, having designed Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. These were the two largest and most popular parks in North America.
In the years after the Civil War, Buffalo was the center of America. One of the most productive and wealthiest cities in the nation, but it forever changed the way cities are planned and preserved when Olmsted and Vaux created the park system.
Olmsted took a one day tour of the city in August of 1868 and immediately saw that Buffalo desperately needed a park. He also saw that the city had very good bones. The original city plan was laid out in 1804 by Joseph Ellicott, a surveyor who worked in Washington. It had a radiating design, which Olmsted thought was a very good idea.
Olmsted and Vaux created a plan for 3 parks, one along the harbor, one now known as Delaware Park, and a third on the east side of the city. What’s more, they planned to connect them with ‘parkways’, which were inspired by the boulevards of Paris. The idea of having circles where the parkways come together in Buffalo was an idea taken from Paris. And the way the parkways link the city to the main park was also from Paris.
Olmsted once said, “A park is a work of art, designed to produce certain effects upon the mind. There should be nothing in it, absolutely nothing– not a foot of surface nor a spear of grass– which does not represent study, design, and effect, with reference to that end”.
Lawrence Hott and Dianne Garey directed and produced The Best Planned City in the World: Olmsted, Vaux and the Buffalo Park System.
Robin Karson was the Executive Producer.
You can watch the entire documentary below.