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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 13, 2011 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT

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not a delegate, there is a journalist. this so-called convention and realized his talent. right after the convention they asked him to draft a pamphlet in support of the constitution. he does that and historians have compared that to the federalist papers. there may have been more because it was circulated throughout the entire country. ready. published right after the convention as opposed the federal papers which were circulated, mostly in new york. >> you can watch this and other programs online at book tv next on book tv, justin martian recounts the life of frederick olmsted. he reports on his numerous designs, which include the u.s. capitol grounds, new york city's central park ..
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>> i thought i had read everything about olmstead and to read his book. it is a fabulous and fun book to read and i was pleased justin asked me to ask him a few questions about olmstead. i learned so much in this book and i learned a lot about the history of that time period which is a fascinating time. before the civil war, was
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happening in this country and happened after words. i am not sure we could still produce this genius of place but justin martin has written two biographies. one about alan greenspan and one about ralph nader. he lives in forest hills gardens in a beautiful place in queens and was designed by olmstead's sun. >> frederick law olmstead junior. >> difficult to be more casual. not charlie. anyway, it is fun to be here and write off the bat i was a little surprised to see that you were -- had written these books about ralph nader and alan greenspan
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who are controversial in their day and time and still alive and kicking. then you pick olmstead who was pretty well thought of -- by the time he died, an interesting guy. what made you move from one to the other? what do they have in common? >> what made me move into olmstead was i felt as the new yorker like central park or manhattan, mike, yard with so many new yorkers and i started to get a deep appreciation for the park. i had a friend who became a tour guide and i moved to forced hills gardens and felt like my next subject was staring me in the face. as far as -- it does connect in a strange way to alan greenspan and ralph nader. i like subjects that do a bunch of things. at least several things very well. alan greenspan was a professional jazz musician and
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part of on rand's inner circle and in the case of ralph nader, he was a lawyer and a consumer advocate and a fly in the wind and presidential candidate. i like that kind of book and olmstead was the ultimate figure in that regard. he did so many things and several of them very well. >> that is the king that comes out so well in your book. olmstead has been called an urban planner and landscape architect. all the other things we need to talk about, some of the great things he excelled in over those years and didn't even turn to landscape architecture until maybe 40. >> central park was his first landscape architecture project. the very profession he and his partner pioneered was so questionable that there would be any opportunity to pursue that
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he had another source of two deviations. he headed up the construction of central park was interrupted by the civil war and it was pretty far along the bun at that point olmstead to lend the union cause and the united states sanitary commission was a battlefield relief outfit that was really for the red cross. he went to california and headed up a gold mine and various things he did, he was a sailor, farmer and surveyor. those were not particularly -- not professions -- he was a notable journalist for the first incarnation of the new york times and health code foundation magazine. he had another career besides landscape architecture some of which such as the journal had not gone into landscape architecture he would be a footnote at least in some circles for his journalistic -- >> and he was an abolitionist, a
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social reformer. he thought a lot about very interesting topics and you sort of wonder because he became such a great landscape architect, do you think people have to have a lot of different backgrounds to really be great designers of the landscape and even more so than architecture? >> i kind of feel he benefited from a kind of multi disciplinary, might call it classical liberal arts education. he tried so many things. wasn't intentional like he set out to have these experiences but once after all the trials and errors i described, once he settled in the landscape architecture he was drawing on different disciplines and certainly to say he couldn't plan is designed it benefited massively from all the experience he was bringing to
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bear. >> the fact that his parks today actually are still has usable if not more so mean that there had to be something pretty fabulous. many parks have come and gone over the generations. those olmstead parks have done very well. i keep thinking maybe it was because he thought so much about people. >> he did. he gave so much thought to what today we call user friendliness. he really thought about how to convey people through the parks and one of the things i am not sure i mentioned the profession of farmer but as a farmer he had the experience of a farm on staten island and take his goods to market if he had -- it meant it went bad. once he became a park designer he was very well aware that no matter how beautiful a design he came up with if he didn't deal with the mundane issue of roads
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and conveyors for people the park was a failure. he brought many other things into the category of user friendly. >> there is a wonderful part of your book where his stepson, john charles, his brother's child that he adopted, a very complicated life, this man who worked all the time. a very complicated guy. john charles has been sent to europe for what did you call it? >> it was called the wonder years. some people call it that. >> i called the wonder years. that meant you went to europe and looked at everything and studied and thought about it. he sent him with these huge lists and how you look at
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something and that list, you didn't punish -- publish the whole list in your book but that list had to be something that would help all of us think about things when we see them. when you go on a trip. you must have read that whole list. >> that list is a crazy long list that says something like look and commit to memory the following. it says all senses, it lists a huge -- we are talking a sequence of 50 or 60 types of architectural features that he demands his poor stepson john charles and olmstead was a tough father. a tough person. he tells john charles that when he goes to europe to aboard this stuff. what was interesting to me was olmstead himself, the pre google
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age. when you went some place you have to soak it in worse soak it up and olmstead in his youth went to liverpool and a lot of people say central park takes a lot of these 9 elements. the interest in fishing was it wasn't as if once he set to work on central park that he would do a google search or find many books with damages. he really drew on his own vivid memories because he had a sense different than we have today when you visit a place you have to soak it up particularly once he became an actual landscape architect. he would hungrily absorb everything he could and apply those ideas to parks. he expected nothing less from his 4 sons and the letter to rack is detailed and demanded. it goes on for many paragraphs. a huge number of architectural terms that john charles observed and it ends with the suggestion
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upon returning to the united states he should be prepared to give full reports, provide drawings etc.. poor guy. >> on the other hand he was trying hard. he felt that is done son rick was more able to absorber. john charles is a great draftsman. i think england provided quite a bit to him because certainly in prospect park you just walked into that long meadow and it feels like any estate he might have walked through he walked through all of these wealthy people's estates after the architects and learned about it. that had a big influence on him as well. not just a public park and that is why -- >> it is very true. he visited a lot of states and there is a wonderful description
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of him visiting a castle in wales. one of my favorite descriptions, he wrote this letter, really a diary in which -- he had to pull some strings to visit the grounds. he had a feeling like he felt what a beautiful place. so free of the rebel and so beautiful and well manicured and he had a pendulum swing of thought. as an american this is so non egalitarian to be appreciating this landscape which has been cloistered so he had this eat tiffany and thought this is a beautiful landscape and as an american i can't conscience try to reproduce in such a landscape. it should be for the masses. he had an experience a lot of americans have, taken up by the pageantry but at the same time going well. i am an egalitarian at heart.
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>> it very much influenced the way people looked at parks in the states at that time. was really just little wealthy enclaves, small side of some places that were fenced. for this country it opened up the difference in terms of what could happen. i would like to talk a little bit about calvin fox. 410. four feet 10 inches. he stuttered, had problems. talk about him but also how important that relationship was. to me olmstead did some really great work after fox but he was that is greatest in his systems and all those things. maybe chicago was equal but we
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don't know, we can't experience that now. talk a little bit about that relationship and how that was so interesting. >> as you are describing first of all some of the great parks, central park and prospects park, working together as collaborators. olmstead once said -- i can get the exact quotation but in essence were not for him i would still be a farmer. the reason he said that was actually olmstead lost his journalism job. he had been at the top of his game as a journalist and along comes the panic of 1857. terrible economic cataclysms. olmstead lost his job and took a new job that was really modest, clearing an ugly piece of land that was prosaically named for its position in the middle of new york city called central park. hee was clearing it for someone else's designed, knocking down shanties and draining swamps.
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along comes vox and looked around and said the existing design was terribly amateurish. friends it really high places including -- he designed a fifth avenue mansion for the board members of futures central park. let's throw up this sign and in england where i am from we hold public competitions to get the best design for something. so they teamed up. the reason they teamed up was not because fox 5 olmstead was amazing as a journalist covering of the south in the antebellum era. 18 because fox 5 olmstead has been knocking down shanties and trading slumps. he will be a perfect partner because he knows the lay of the land. 18 up and basically olmstead brought the partnership of these amazing ideas bubbling up from apprentice ships in different areas, he brought training and polished and drafting skills
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which olmstead never had. vox was a member of the hudson river school. he was a contemporary. he hung out for lack of a better word with frederic church, the gray landscape painter. he was married to mary mcintea who was the sister of a not so well remembered that at the time esteemed hudson river school painter. so he also brought this hudson river school aesthetic with him. he had been traveling in circles and had an idea he expressed very well when he said it was his private motto which was nature first, second and third. architecture after a while. if you take a look at central park or prospect park a lot of people suggested those are hudson river school paintings like a painting by church just slapped down in the middle of
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the city. vox was also as an architect and legally trained architect created -- just brilliant at creating structures. beautiful bridges like the blow bridge in central park. he brought a lot to the table especially for being 4 foot 10. >> the other interesting thing is olmstead teamed up with architects after the mid 70s. they had this ego problem that was fascinating. i thought that was one of the more interesting parts of the book. talk a little bit about the reason they broke up. >> they really clashed on a lot of issues. one of the main issues was olmstead was a journalist by training. he had a lot of journalist friends and when they wrote about parks whether it was prospect park or central park described them as olmstead's
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parks. blocks took umbrage at that. he felt was an equal partnership. olmstead was something of a dynamo. it is no accident that they twice constituted firms called olmstead, fox and company. he was always second in olmstead's estimation as well. he had to fight hard. you are a partner in olmstead, locks and company you have a sense of how olmstead feel about you and olmstead had these entrees into the journalistic world that caused him to get short shrift in again and again. vox instituted the breakup because he was the designer of dairy in central park, beautiful structure. the bonet bridge and so forth. he had a desire to instead of being olmstead, box and company
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designing beautiful bridges and structures in park for factories and such he would like to be one of the preeminent designers of building that landed two unbelievable commissions. metropolitan museum of art and natural history museum. he landed both commissions and he and olmstead always -- that comfortable position to say let's break up and olmstead said let's break. fox went to do these commissions but one problem that i described in the book was he burned with a white flame for pure art. he was a small man always pushing his glass up and stuttered and stumbled and had trouble working with clients. olmstead was a journalist working and many types of training was very good at speaking to clients and maintaining these relationships. fox without olmstead fumbled both great commissions and by late in his career he had to
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sort of look to the kindness of strangers and even olmstead for the few commissions he was able to garner. as his star rose, he was unable to execute these commissions was on the decline. >> there's always great debate in prospect park about locks and olmstead because vox came up with the original concepts. olmstead wasn't involved and had to beg him to come back from this miserable life of prospecting. you put a lot of light on that. the relationship is very interesting. do you think olmstead did as well with the yarder architect to camelot and his life? he had a good relationship with the other one. the one who died. >> richardson. >> he was fabulous. richardson died at 45.
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>> i don't think he found a partner he worked with as well as vox and had an integrated design or fog as much. locks brought together prospect park. it was supposed to be two separate pieces of land with a bridge between them and fox said let's make it one piece of land so he would think about the landscape and provide a lot of landscape ideas. olmstead had these division of labor partnerships like with richardson. he got along with them well but richardson was going to design structures. olmstead was thinking of landscape and some of these folks had such a massive egos that he was going to design a bridge that looked however he felt it should look. olmstead designed -- he was not willing to accept that relationship. you don't want that many bridges in a park. >> a lot of interesting other
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topics came up. the chicago world's fair to me was amazing because here is this guy -- >> would have been in his 70s. >> he was told by that time. just the fact that you mentioned google. but travel. you have all these commissions going on at the same time and here he is doing this rush job for the chicago -- talk a little bit about that. >> olmstead was not at ease or say when in his old age. in that year of being in your late 60s or 70s you were household age. you out with a lot of your contemporaries and olmstead did not settle into a restful latter years. he was actually -- he became fevered. the reason is landscape architecture is so different from a painting or a work of
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music. it is never final and he had this anxiety that after he was gone all of his work would be undone. he spent his whole adult life basically fighting against people who were meddling with central park which was always his place. everyone wanted to fix something in central park. always battling to fight those things. he had a sense because he had pioneered landscape architecture a sense that after you was gone everything might be reversed. there were a couple commissions in the world fair grounds. in one of them that late in life he was desperate to stake his reputation. as an old man by the standards of that date he hurdled over the united states taking on commissions in milwaukee, kansas city, denver and north carolina and a bunch of other places and he would work on the chicago world's fair. he came up with a preposterous mathematical formula which was get half of his attention to the
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chicago world's fair and half of his attention to build more state to north carolina and he would give attention -- he used 100% to rochester, milwaukee etc.. what he would do is he would work on the chicago fair grounds and when he sensed there was a break in the action he would sneak down to nashville where his client was george vanderbilt and do some work there and steve off to louisville which was close to asheville and do work on their park system. he was desperate traveling around taking a late-night rail ride and trying to secure his reputation and make sure he left a big lasting legacy figuring if he did enough parks maybe someone would last. >> and writing letters all the time. we have all forgotten these short e-mails at who knows, they will all vanish off of the face of the earth. he wrote thousands of these
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letters. >> the way i always describe it is it was the nineteenth century, olmstead was very much a sort of man about town. a lot of friends. the best way to describe it is effective of crossed the street he had diarrhea bout it and wrote a variety of letters about it because he was a journalist and several friends either had diary entries or letters that wrote about olmstead crossing the street. created this kind of so many different takes -- to have so many things in his life to the accounting for them and very insightfully and often in very long -- 10 or 15 pages of explanation of being enraged about park design being rolled back or what ever and all the other people he would send letters to responding to create a rich trove to dig into.
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>> nobody will be as easy to follow in the future. >> exactly. >> a lot of other people's opinions. [talking over each other] >> i wonder what his facebook page look like. he 8 horrible food. that was interesting. his diet was terrible. interesting that you say that. in the early 1890s he was brought back to prospect park to figure out where the tennis house should go. he goes around and it is a formal architectural piece and so on and so forth but he does say at that time this is the perfect part. there is a little preface in your book. i would say. significant. for central park. as somebody from prospect park,
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i have to say that i agree with olmstead. that was the perfect park. because he had all of this money, complete freedom and in central park, he had mr. green and everybody picking at him. what do you think? >> well played. you even brought a quotation i won't counter. >> i know that quote. >> i found a letter 1870's there -- [talking over each other] >> he loved central park. the way i would attempt to counter is by saying that it is kind of the old -- i always think about musicians like paul simon. i heard him interview where he said my early work with simon and garfunkel was amateurish and
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useful. i was at the top of my game doing world music etc. but i have a feeling that artists are not the best authority on their own work. i know olmstead felt prospect park was his finest work but i will try to make an argument that central park was his masterpiece based on two things. that was his first work and like so many great artists he brought all of this. that is when all of this spontaneity and all these ideas came bubbling to the surface. that was where he goes from being a surveyor turned farmer turned sailor and brings the park work and the other suggestion i would make is central park i feel is a particularly masterful design because of the constraint. it was a perfect rectangle,
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terrible shape for a park unlike prospect park which is more organic, natural shape. perfect rectangle. terrible piece of land. that is why it was chosen to be a park. a wretched piece of land that people didn't want and real-estate could develop elsewhere in the city. olmstead faced with that constrained on top of the constrained at the design competition have all kinds of mandatory demands and things that had to be done in order to mandatory design element for the contest. olmstead was terribly constrained by the shape, terribly constraint piece of land. they brought the best creative thinking they could to try to make this very constrained space had a flow, have a sense of grandeur and scale. won the thing that strikes me is you talk about a park that is half a mile wide which you could never be anywhere where you were more than a quarter mile away from civilization, from roads.
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it is a considerable illusion that you can get lost in that park and to be in that park and feel like you were in nature. so that is my -- >> i will add to that argument. he also got to keep coming back to it over and over again. he goes away for a period of time and comes back. he keeps being brought in for a few questions and send away and take some and not all. from olmstead's prospective he probably would have said if he had to pick that central park was still his baby. it was his firstborn. is everything. but i do think in prospect park we like to say they learned from their mistakes. so they found somebody who was willing to fund the whole thing and not ask a simple question. they were able to use a lot of
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the teams they brought together and that is the others thing about olmstead that is so interesting. his ability to manage. you pointed that out in many parts of it that managing by taking a really good people who could handle the job. >> very true. a lot of these park designed involve going in, doing the initial drafting and in his case writing documentation of park plan and then you had to turn it over to someone else. at least with central park and prospect park he was able to make periodic visits. i don't think he visited that often and he was in other places when he was working in any of these other places like milwaukee. he was so dependent on the people on the ground. he had to pick well and hope these people would do the actual practical work of designing a park.
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demolition, blasting rock and whatever was necessary. he wasn't going to be able to micromanage it. >> now we are supposed to open to questions from the rest of you. you do that part. i just sit here. >> thank you, tupper. any questions? [applause] >> the rules are you wait until the microphone has gotten to you. someone over here? this is all on television. >> thank you. your talk was so good that i will forgive you for saying fox was good in spite of being 4 foot 2. if you will comment on the idea that although olmstead was an
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avowed egalitarian arguably the origin in the early years of central park, not so egalitarian in central village at the big battle to keep out communities attached to the village, the rules against baseball player of the discouragement and so forth up until i guess about 1900, it wasn't very working person friendly. how did the origin and the early years reflect olmstead's ideas? >> you should talk about seneca. the >> senate the village was an african-american community with 264 people. it was right about across from the national history museum is where it was and it was one of the many places that was raised, purchased through eminent domain but ultimately raised to make
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central park. the first thing i should mention is olmstead cleared a bunch of structures but wasn't involved in the land acquisition and driving out of people. yankee great joe paterno and helped drive people off the land. have to go after former yankee great's relative on that one. olmstead, it is a very valid argument you make that there was something -- olmstead had noblesse of the day -- oblige. he was egalitarian. he wanted to condescend to people who were the lower classes, quote, and give them rightful entertainment and rifle diversion. there was some element of that. you have to put him in the context of his time and give him
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credit for in kent. his intent with central park and his other park creations was that these be egalitarian places. he really did want that. he had very specific ideas what people should be doing in parks. they should be edified. they should be hearing orchestra's playing music. they should be ice skating and walking around with their hands behind their back looking at nature and contemplating. he didn't want them to be doing rabble-type of things. he put up cited that said do not annoyed birds by throwing missiles. things like that. he had very keep off the grass -- ultimately is intend in a nineteenth century context progressively account -- egalitarian. i had the opportunity to look at a whole bunch of late 1850s
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account of central park when the park had just opened and what was noted by all the newspapers of the day were how people of all kinds were mixing in the park. that told me even though it is hard to get to central park for certain people it is expensive for a large farm family to take whatever conveyances to get to central park but people managed to do it. some people walked to the park and when they got there at least according to 1850s accounts which was early in the game you had something very new. tupper mentioned we had st. john's square and so forth. literally dated parks. a key to the people on the periphery. central park was open to everyone. even early in the game there were a lot of people mixing. maybe not as many as there should be and may be walking with their hands behind their back as opposed to playing sports and rolling around in the grass. >> i also think he put gary's in
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central and -- dairies because there wasn't pasteurization yet. a lot of social reform was important to him. he had a friend, mr brace. learned a lot about it in your book. he was the children's aid society guy. he really wanted to make healthy living for young people kept in terrible conditions. sometimes had to work five or six days a week. he did a lot more than anyone else thought of doing in public space and believe in that mixing so that you might have a place where the carriages could go and see a beautiful view but you saw and even more beautiful view when you walked the walks poor people could walk.
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al final who wrote about olmstead many years ago talked about our olmstead really wanted people to feel that any man could stand on a hillside and say to his family's is is our estate. so he took that english concept and really wrote about that and felt strongly about it. i think he did a pretty good job considering. can't get to some of these people. >> you mentioned olmstead and vox won the design competition for central park. what was it about their design that beat out the others? >> it really stood out. it was different from the others. 33 competitors and it really stood out from the others in a
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couple regards. one of the main things was it relates to what tupper was saying about the person on the hillside being able to look out and say this belongs to me. it had a naturalisti archways a
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grand fountains and a lot of fountains and so forth. hot of other elements and i described earlier the term mandatory requirement for all 33 designed. they were submitted. one of the mandatory requirements was central park the cross that four different places and the other 32 contend with this requirement and came up with four road crossing an era rectangle in cramped plans where no kind of expansion of the meadow or what have you, olmstead had a brilliant innovation called sunken transferss having channels across the park. you could build a land bridge across the sunken channels at certain points and by having a land bridges open up the plans instead of cramped plans you could have some open meadows and vistas and longview's.
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also meant if you were walking across the park you wouldn't have your view interrupted for. it would be traveling subterranean. that design element continues to work because people walking to central park are also aware that very close by there might be taxis and buses traveling to the subterranean channel. at least enough of the commissioners to vote and recognize that was a brilliant innovation. >> the civil war is usually considered a major influence to anyone who participated. i am thinking of the way he approached. wherever the challenge was like the union army. i go in a meeting in rochester
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or chicago. go to milwaukee. also the fearlessness of the chicago lyndon or fredericksburg. impossibly difficult challenge. i would never do that and he had the guts to do that. do you think this is an experience that has a sense of that? >> i never even thought about that. olmstead was really good friends with william jenny who was the aid to sherman when he was ulysses s. grant's something. they were trying to take vicksburg and came up with a crazy idea of crossing the mississippi river on the louisiana side and wanted to take the fortress city of vicksburg. he had this crazy idea that they should dig trenches and come up
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and send boats through these towns and take vicksburg from the other side when all of a sudden the union troops come from the side they weren't expected. the plan didn't work but they met during the civil war. they became friends. later, a brilliant engineer in that area if you are an engineer you could turn that into something different so he became one of the early people that built skyscrapers in chicago and olmstead went to chicago and came up with a crazy lagoon's system. i never thought of it but it is very possible that olmstead inspired by jennie's failed plan to take vicksburg from the other side went to chicago and came up with the london system. works for me. >> you mentioned the hudson river school several times.
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i am curious. specific locations in the park that were direct quotations from things that are known for a general sense of space or the background? >> you will like this. olmstead -- fox -- as a plan for central park went on it became necessary -- the original plan called for a nine bridges and it got more elaborate and designed all these bridges and archways. vox liked to position the archways so it framed what would feel like the hudson river. he never made reference to literally quoting some work by church or coals or anything like that. he never said i am literally referencing this but he did. he designed the archways as you are walking as a pedestrian you are walking under an archway
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with horses and carriages above and if you are standing at a pedestrian and framed the view like the hudson river school painting. that is certainly -- [inaudible] >> one of the most exciting things about the landscape architect is you have to think about it when it is going to start, when it is going to be middle-aged, when it is going to be old. that is the most fascinating thing about managing 150-year-old park. what are you going back to and how do you recreate those vistas that are so important? they still all work. when you walk through this archway you really have to be able to see and when i got there someone had put a lamppost in the middle of that. every 20 feet you put lamppost.
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it was right in the center. that is a fascinating issue with landscape architecture. how do you think that way? you make a painting as an artist, you have made the painting. they are making a painting that will go and change and change. on purpose it will change. it is a pretty exciting concept. [inaudible] >> -- to equate the cemetery which is a fascinating place. i would love you to take a tour and they had no problem and they made a deal. >> the quakers were forced to move their cemetery of manhattan because of the sanitation issue of the day. just five or six years before --
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i am assuming -- >> i don't know. i am interested to hear. >> five or six years before hand they had purchased this land. they purchased a few different pieces of land. it was in the perfect location. so the park was originally planned to be really just if you know prospect park, the first half of the park and then it was going to jump across the street where the library and museum are. it was this odd shape. they weren't in the park proper at that time. when fox came up with this idea of let's leave flatbush avenue over there and hold that other land for institutional development because everyone is trying to push their museum into central park they finally did have to buy that land. so they didn't buy it.
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they just gave them full access. so right now if you were to visit somebody, a grave in that quaker cemetery you would be allowed at any time of the day or night to drive in and visit that grave but you had better know. >> somebody in the back? >> just had a question about later life. you mentioned when dollar around. he may have a house in massachusetts. if you could comment about that if he actually did settle down. just curious about your comments. >> he moved into massachusetts in the 1880s.
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his work was drying up in new york. he had done everything he could. a couple masterpieces in central park and prospect park and worked on morningside park and so forth. meanwhile the late 1870s or 80s all of a sudden this city of boston comes to him and they have him in one part and another. pretty soon they announce they want a series of parks. what became emerald necklace. he was thrilled. work in america dried up but he was born in hartford, connecticut and wanted to return to new england but his father had recently died and when his father died he got into a really bruising battle with his mother-in-law so in effect he could go home again. work in new york dries up and work appears in boston and they hire him to do the whole emerald necklace. he is pleased at the
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opportunity. he can't go back to hartford but at least go back to new england or boston. in 1881 he lived there for the rest of his life but he moved to brookline which was a suburb and was excited that he lived in the city and live on a farm and moved to the suburbs. in that era it was all the things -- it was very fresh. i can live near the city and have a yard. he bought a house that he dubbed ferris said with two acres of land and he landscaped that land beautifully. created a personal park. fairstead is and brookline. it will be open again -- >> national park. >> it will be open soon when it is renovated. brookline is his base. crazy hurtling. brookline would be his base but
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he would be away from fairstead for months at a time as he went all over the country trying to attend the various commissions. >> and then he ultimately died in a different place. >> that is right. it is an interesting -- >> the end of his life. >> olmstead loved designing mental institutions. the grounds of mental institutions. he did about half a dozen of them including the hartford, connecticut and bloomingdale asylum on grounds of columbia university. make of that what you will and a number of other different mental institutions. he loved doing mental institution designs because it was a therapeutic landscape. one of the many designs with for mclean asylum. he started the design in the 1870s and spent incredible rich ideas about what he wanted to bring to this design.
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at the end of his life he started showing the first signs of senile dementia. might have been alzheimer's disease but there was no diagnosis in those days. he became agitated, confused and garment. ultimately -- violent. he was confined to mclean on the outskirts of boston. upon checking in reportedly he said confound them they didn't follow my design. >> what he most worried about. >> it was not a therapeutic designed for him. >> are their archives at fairstead and brookline that are available? is it like a formal library or is it open to scholars? >> it is the place that people
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go as landscape architect. >> they no longer have the archives. because it can't be kept as well as it should be. the archives have been moved to and an archive world where they can be kept but you can still get to them. i don't remember where they moved it. it is still in the boston area so they moved it to an archival place. where they're doing the research about prospect park, were allowed to go to fairinstead and things that probably shouldn't have been. you found a lot of other places. your best treasure trove. >> the library of congress. what we are alluding to is the actual designs, designs of the park which would have been fun for me given by deadline.
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not really the central topic. for landscape architect this is the place you would want to go to look at the park designed. what i want to look at were letters from olmstead and document, park planned and articles he had written in obscure defund magazines. places for that with the library of congress spread among five particularly -- five good archives which were the library of congress and the library of harvard and new york public library which has boxes and letters and some stuff from the united states sanitary commission. civil war medical out fit. stanford archives and there was one other that slipped my mind. those are the places to visit and there's also beyond that this gives you an idea how much work he did. there are seven volumes of papers by charles beverage.
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brilliant scholar. basically the best way to describe it is a lot of letters you confined in seven volumes which are rigorously annotated and each volume is 700 or 800 pages long. i read all seven. those are simply -- those are wonderful because you have seven volumes you can sit beside your desk and referred to but those are just certain papers to supplement that. you have to go to the other archives and look at papers that have not been published in seven volumes. they give you an idea of the volume of stuff olmstead and his cohorts produced and allowed to wade through. >> i wonder if sleep deprivation is a requirement of a designer. >> i know he was a terrible insomniac.
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>> as with you i live in proximity to a fruit of his son rick's work which came along many decades later. i was wondering if you could say a few words about olmstead's relationship with his son. >> with rick particularly? the best way to describe this is strange division where john charles was olmstead's stepson. john charles was a talented craftsman olmstead said you are not a man of genius. whereas rick was his natural son had late in life and here was something bizarre. rick was called boy for the first two years of his life because olmstead had lost a couple of children. he was so fearful that something would happen to this child
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recently called him. at the age of two he was christened henry and when he hit the age of 7 and it was clear that maybe he would've to maturity he was christened frederick -- frederick law olmstead junior. the weight of expectation that goes from being from beloit to henry to frederick jr. is terrible. frederick law olmstead jr. was in his 50s or late 40s but old again by the standards of the day when he had this young boy. rick and ecology when olmstead was in his 60s. there are wonderful letters in which olmstead demand that wreck account for his time and show his passion for landscape architecture and rick deflected one by describing a football game. football is a brand new sport. here's a new sport you don't
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understand and describe the action and touchdown that celebratory bonfire afterwards. the interesting thing with rick is he had this parental pressure which was unavoidable but he also seemed to have had a genetic request of olmstead's talent and vision and rick finally found himself despite all this pressure, proved to be an incredibly able landscape architect and he took landscape architecture. 18 up in a very uncomfortable firm and took landscape architecture throughout the 20th century and a lot of projects and all kinds of things all over the country. one other footnotes is rick professionally dropped the junior and retired and died shortly afterward in 1958. so you have olmstead starts working on central park in 1858. rick died in 1958 but dropped the junior professionally so it appears olmstead worked for 100
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years. >> he was fabulous. >> could you say something about the context for public parks in place at the time that olmstead designed central park and parts in the united states and europe? >> europe had some public parks. that was a point of pride. royal parks given over to the people. certainly something that olmstead drew on in this experience of visiting europe. it america you had a couple things. you had some sort of squares and the concept of the colonial square and boston common from
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the 1830s which is a colonial square. a place where people could meet and there could be public discourse. the main thing you had in america in that era for perambulator and relaxing for cemeteries is greenwood cemetery and mount auburn and a bunch of cemeteries for people who would go and walk around and pick the shade of a mausoleum. that was what was available to the public in that era and that is part of what made central park and prospect park extraordinary. these were large spaces designed dissolve were not cemeteries and were not paddocks and squares. ..
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come in and do a real tough full design. he took a look and said this used to be -- this looks to me like a really decrepit so marked -- salt marsh. he came up with this elaborate heavy engineering plan to return to a salt marsh.
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so that was the only other contest i can think of that he was in some fashion involved. >> i wonder if you could comment on and mary, his sister-in-law, and then wife and the role that she played in his life. a partner for him in terms of the short hand. can you fix this design can't do this, whether it was a marriage of convenience love or some combination of the two. >> short. mary's brother died of tuberculosis. she had a petition before john.
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they concluded it was from ship material only. when john died of tuberculosis literally his deathbed letter as a ps : don't let mary suffered one of your life. lo and behold a few years later in central park he and mary get married by his three sons, including john the editor -- elder. my read on the relationship, marriage born very much of obligation and also a marriage that had a lot of tragedy. a lot of loss and a lot -- the lost children.
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also a best men in leather using romantic language talking about this time the passion that he felt, referring to the fact that the central park kept him from being able to realize it as he thought he would. the language, stymied romance. it seemed to be a clue to something about the relationships. i mean, i think there were collaborators. they have mutual respect. kenya, they stayed together. i think there was even a form of love there. i just don't think it was any kind of great passion are great -- born of obligation and sorrow. >> the other woman and the store
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there was no acknowledgement of the contributions of the sister who was unmarried throughout her entire life and stayed at the house. yes. that is interesting. when it was sunday and learn more about the mud just a glimpse of what she must've done and felt. a great loss. not reconstruct will, not unless somebody finds amazing troves of letters. some of this history of this person who was very much part of the homes of farm was not given credit. >> you talked earlier about the precious put on his son and stepson. money was cheap shifting professionally was his family worried about him? how common was it, middle-class
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young man, and all the man, to go from career to carrier? and very contemporary phenomenon . how common the laws it at the victorian era? >> it was uncommon. his own fatah was very different his own father was a kind of comfortable man who ran and dried fish shop. for a lot of reasons, very quiet man. very generous spirited. had to pick a father, his father was pau the the best he could have picked. a very intelligent, emotionally -- a quiet man, but he often said -- heat told his son he
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loved him often. it told him he respected him. trying all of these different professions. very supportive emotionally, and financially. a very unlike a typical 19th century father and unlike many 24 century founders. i don't think he would have benefited from having. he would have rebelled more. gone in more radical directions. it was a father who recognized and gave him enough latitude, give him enough time to really become the person he is meant to be. the wonderful episode where he is clearly at the house of hartford and battling his mother-in-law. take all the stuff and go. he opens the door and finds years' worth of press clippings about him from the very first public thing that they get into
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at this point. actually said he may comment. something to the fact that there is nothing much at this point to continue to the four. he was crucial. >> height. in reading i can -- came upon the fact he was a manic depressive. how was wondering what your take is, and how that conforms to design. >> i think if olmsted were today to guess it on a psychiatrist's couch he would be gusty in a matter of seconds. describe his symptoms and quickly be diagnosed, probably bipolar. you know, he would have just
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incredible manager activity. exhausting to have an idea of how much. this would be just stupa less and petrified. he would ask mary to read with him, pop mercury and other types of medicines. then he would march back into one of these crazy times of on goal activity. but resisted giving him a diagnosis. suggested that maybe in modern times he be diagnosed. you have to view his mental state in the 19th century context. he had something wonderful available to him. i find it wonderful. he was able to have fall on
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breakdowns. the best way to describe it, not a rich man, but some means. a full on breakdown. you could tell your employer, and having a breakdown, headed off to saratoga. there would be any issues about insurance. the employer would say, oh, he is a creative dynamo. he needs this. when he returns he would give us his best. give him a week, two weeks, months, whatever he needs. willie may have been bipolar. very functionally bipolar he would spend several weeks. then he would return to the world nearly refreshed.
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montreal, a creative act of genius that came on the heels. fl like this with them. breakdown. retreat, get refreshed and renewed. create something masterful. in today's world it would be treated in a different way. navy he would not have been decorated denim money was. >> one more. >> you mentioned that he liked to write. was there any -- did they say anything about the house and land? >> i guess he did not have anything to do with that.
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it strangely their close in age and grew up in hartford. i don't have any evidence. i ticket that frederick burden will pay a grand and gigantic figure. i took the lack, given the commonality, took the lack of relationship that may be assigned to west and/or churchill. giants that did not want to climb. much more comfortable for whatever reason. very close friends. that could not tell you exactly what he had to do, but he helped. you know, i'm not sure that he designed the landscape. i don't know. i've heard different -- yet. i've heard different -- i don't know enough. i am not of my dad. some people say that, you know, such a great figure that he did a lot of the work.
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>> as i said to my don't know enough about the relationship. definitely had something to do with a lot. a little to do with a church. did the briefly served as the commissioner. it is very heartening. as civic mine artist. probably preferred a great church to tammany hall. he could have been part commissioner. that is another one. wonderful to know more about whenever. at berkeley and is in a relationship. [inaudible]
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>> he said that the family, they were lost and they were much older. >> he's those children. he had a baby. writing in a carriage in central park. one of the most fascinating things. they were thinking about buying and new wars. his wife was in that carriage. she held the baby to egest. thrown clear and broke his died in three places. the bond jetted out of this can come and he was given very little chance of living. he reached covered and his leg was 2 inches shorter. the baby died eight days after
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the carriage accident, and they'd given cause of the deaths was infant cholera. they could never imagine. to we're difficult incidents. hold on to the baby. the baby dies. within the same about you i learned, really talking about this episode. and he did he said that the horse had been bothered by flies and bolted. seventeen years later she wrote of reminiscence in which she said that he exhausted, fell asleep behind the wheel, loss of lanes, the horse bolted, and that is what led to this. what ever is true, this is the perception. it goes some way toward explaining the not so happy to people. those free from all the work. that was one child. they also lost a son to
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tuberculosis. interestingly enough, he was an adult. john, his brother. one of his children. they share the same week constitution that his mother had died of, tuberculosis. allen clearly died of tuberculosis. diabetes, people very frequently did diabetes. association between two illnesses. tuberculosis killed it. a lot of guilt. the brother john died of tuberculosis. a lot of guilt when ellen charged and john son died. those two children, and we also have charlotte. another of his children, brought her life to of very high strong. confined to a mental institution. he lost that child in that
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fashion. that is saw the chance he. all this tragedy of the frenzy died. three years. really only his first memory was of his mother selling under a tree with him at her feet. second memory was this hysterical of the sub. don't come into is from. his mother died of an overdose of laudanum, mixture of opium mixed in with whatever else. she took too much, and will was interesting in she had just gone through a congregational must call one of these regular congregational events in which she was forced to be incredibly introspective. this will have been the 1830's. new england kaj aberrational setting. these events, people were forced to have a lot of terrible
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introspection. a few months after this event she took an overdose of laudanum. tear speculation, but maybe it was an overdose on marriage took too much on purpose after she was forced. a lot of tragedy in his life. [laughter] >> thank you. >> thanks a lot. thank you. >> that was justin martin. from more information visit the authors website. >> who came out of my attempts answer the question that i would ask very frequently when i was talking about a climate change, particularly after have written in 2005.
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that question was, what are our chances of surviving the shifting climate that we are causing? and the only way i could think of to answer that question was to really go back to the scientific fundamentals. the process that created the san the planet. and, of course, looked at the intersection between us and these things we call planet earth. that intersection, sustainability arises. i cannot think of a better way of starting to like it the issue then to go back. that man there. that is charles darwin's tombstone. the great kind of sacred house. the british woman. it's also something that he was
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very, the great house. but nothing, is achievements. pretty unique. he would not guess what he was there. what he had written about what the theory of evolution, by his own church. the reason i wanted to start was because he was the man who really explained how -- the process that made us and the process that made -- and his idea, is great at the of what is an extremely single one. it was simply that in every generation there is a variation between individuals. some of those are more likely to is survived. of the vast of time people i just becoming aware of the extreme of the earth in the
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mid-19th century. that must tell. this species as a whole. so, the very simple idea. being very wise, very deceptive person does said ted sit on that idea for 20 years, and it was only when i went to his house that have really understood a little bit more about why he might the world's. just outside his house he built of both think that he called the san blocked. i don't know what he called the san market. even great man can do other things.
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he would walk several hours a round. people have wondered why he did. what was he thinking? what was he doing? it is just a look about the forest. so speculating that maybe he was depicting arguments or constructing in his head the beautiful paragraphs that characterized his would mark. but these children were getting something very different. memoirs where they talk about what they knew, and they would play in the forest and often interrupting because there were doing so. he always seemed glad. sometimes joining the game. whenever there during. not the actions of a man who was deeply engaged in complex and critical. i think what are when was doing was metaphorically thinking
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about the implication for religious belief. the shape of society, and other bignesses. and i guess that what he was worried about was that if he destroyed faith by showing that we were not in the creation of a loving and caring got, but instead the result of an amoral and utterly cruel process, that he might destroy hope and charity as well. have a very adverse impact upon society. he may never have published if it weren't for this man here. first stumbled on the idea. every living thing on the plan was made. this man here was working.
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twenty years and her. he was a working-class lad. went to the tropics to collect biological specimens. while he was there on the island he had a malaria attack. as a result, he was finally -- the idea came to him. created by exactly the same well, he wrote a note when he graduated outlining his theory. he asked to die when if he would not mind transmitting it to one of the journals to be published in britain. he was horrified. he said, well, this could not have made a summary of my work if he had my notes in front of me. he thought that his whole life support was about to be stolen.
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as it was, he appealed to his friends. particularly those whom float down to a journal publications. and as a result of their intervention both pieces of work were co published. darwin and wallace. it is extraordinary how similar they are. the theory is presented in the form of completeness. but for all of that killing of in british society. the man who was in charge of publishing the journal, there was an expert on the storm. he wrote in this summary. there would be no significant scientific discoveries
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published. nothing that would revolutionize the department of science. of course he could not have been more wrong, and that was it showed the following year in 1959 when dow when published his book on the origin of species. and then, as stalin, perhaps, feared, unleashed upon society. everything began to change. within five years the kind it turned the survival of the fittest. is social darwinism had been born. it did not really help his cause in the subtitle he picked, which included the line on the preservation of favored races. unless you're going into a bookshop, every sort of englishmen and pick up this book, i would not have been thinking about worms as the favorite. you would be thinking about british empire builders stuff
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like that. and so there was this social impact. over time i think what we saw was a very, very deep impact on our society by these ideas. national socialism, jennings, economics, born some darwinian thinking. particularly as needed through the life of her ribs the answer. so, as i was beginning to look at the process that created less, reread darwin. began to despair that we were selfish, shortsighted, roofless entities for used by the cruel
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process. but it was this man here that really gave me hope that that may not necessarily be the case. also, the very long and full life dying at the age of 90. at the age of 80 he was still writing. in fact, one would argue his best work was published in 1900 for. that is that title page there. the study of the results of the search in relation to -- plurality of worlds. this is summary of wallace's understanding of what had been created. he was not interested in drilling down ever more finally in terms of understanding the evolutionary mechanisms. he had done that. what he wanted to know, bng


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