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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 27, 2011 2:30pm-4:00pm EDT

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of people do this as the bad part of town but it was the good part of town and this is why. in some ways again, swinging too far in the other direction saying they never locked their doors and i don't know what these people are talking about. what happens is that is where i became interested. seeing two sides of history and curious not just to the story of the neighborhood but looking at how the process of creating history actually happens. that is when i gravitated to the collection and thought this is a story that needs to be told. >> booktv was in frankfurt, kentucky where we visit several southeastern cities over the next few months. to bring you a taste of their literary history and culture our partner in frankfurt, kentucky was frankfurt platform. for more information on this and events from other cities is that
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c-span.org/localcontent. >> next on booktv, justin martin recounts the life of frederick law olmsted. reports on his numerous designs which include the u.s. capitol ground, new york city at central park and emerald necklace and is work as an abolitionist. this is an hour and 20 minutes. [applause] >> i ran prospect park for 30 years. i thought i read everything there was to know about frederick law olmstead until i read justin martin's book. is a fun book to read and i was pleased to ask him a few
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questions about olmstead. i learned so much in this book. i learned a lot about the history of that time period which is a fascinating time. that time from before the civil war, what was happening in this country and all the things that happened afterwards. i am not sure we could produce the genius of place. justin martin is a highly praised biographer who has written two great 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. >> rick.
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>> we need to be more casual. not charlie. it is fun to be here. i was surprised to see that you were -- had written the book about ralph nader and alan greenspan that were controversial in their day and their time and they are still alive and kicking and then you pick olmstead who was well thought of by the time he died and he was an interesting guy. what made you move from one to the other and what do they have in common? >> what made me move into olmstead was as a new yorker i live in manhattan, mike heinen yard with so many other new yorkers and over time i started to get a deep appreciation for the park. i had a friend who became a tour guide. the move to forced hills gardens and i felt my next subject was
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staring me in the face. it does connect to alan greenspan and ralph nader. i like to do several things and in the case of greenspan he was a professional jazz musician and part of and rand's inner circle before he became fed chairman. ralph nader was a writer, lawyer and consumer advocate and a fly in the wind and many times presidential candidate. i like that kind of book and olmstead was the ultimate figure because he did so many things very well. >> that is the thing that comes out in your book. olmstead has always been called a nervous planner and landscaper and architect. talk a little bit about some of the great things he excelled in
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over those years and didn't even turn to landscape architecture until 35 or 40. >> that is so true. central park was his first land a protector project. the very profession he and his partner vox volunteered was a questionable that they didn't have the opportunity to pursue it. they had two deviations from there. he headed up the construction of central park was interrupted by the civil war. it was pretty far along but at that point olmstead went off and joined the union cause and headed up to united states sanitary commission which was a battlefield relief out fit and he went to california and headed up a gold mine. you asked about various things he did. he was a sailor, former legal surveyor. those were scattershot. not particularly professions -- he was a really notable
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journalist for first incarnation of the new york times. he helped co-founder nation magazine. he had a whole other careers besides landscape architecture some of which, had he not gone into landscape architecture, set some circles for his -- >> he was an abolitionist, social reformer. he thought a lot about interesting topics and you sort of wonder, because he became such a great landscape architect, people have to have a lot of backgrounds to be great designers of the landscape for even more so than architecture? >> i feel like he really benefited from a multidisciplinary -- might even call it classic liberal arts education. he tried so many things. wasn't intentional. not like he set out to have
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these experiences. once after the trial and error is and deviations, once he settles into landscape architecture he was trying on these different disciplines and certainly he couldn't have planned it but his designs benefited massively from all the experience he would bring to bear. >> the fact that his parks today are still as usable if not more so means there had to be something pretty fabulous. many parks have come and gone over generations. but olmstead's 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 we now call user friendliness. he thought about how to -- one of the things i am not sure i mention, professional farmer.
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he had the experience of a farm on staten island. when he would take his goods to market, if his car got stuck his produce went bad. once he became a park designer he was aware that no matter how beautiful the design he came up with, if he didn't deal with the mundane issue of roads the park design would be a failure. he brought many other things that came into the category of user-friendly. >> there's a wonderful part of your book where his stepson, john charles -- a very complicated life, this man who worked all the time, uncomplicated guy. john charles was sent to europe -- >> it was called the wonder
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years. >> i called it the wonder years. that meant you went to europe and looked at everything and studied and you thought about it and he sent him with a huge list and how you look at something and i think that list, you didn't publish the whole list 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. maybe -- you may have read that. >> it is a crazy long list. look at and commit to memory the following. it says all fences -- lists a huge -- we are talking a sequence of problems 50 or did
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60 types of architectural features he demands his stepson john charles beat the lead with a tough father and could be a tough person as a father. he tells john charles when he goes to europe that he needs to make sure -- what was interesting to me is olmstead himself, in the pre google age. when you went some place you had to really soak it up. olmstead went to liverpool. central park takes a lot of design elements from that. it wasn't as if once he worked on central park he could do a google surge. you would find many books with damages. he really drew on his own vivid memories because he had a sense given that we have today that when you visit a place you have to soak it up particularly when he became a landscape architect. then he would hungrily absorber everything he could and apply those ideas.
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he expected nothing less from his 4 sons and the letter to rick is detailed and demanded. it goes on for many paragraphs. a huge number of architectural terms that john charles was supposed to absorb that ends with the suggestion that on returning to the united states he should be prepared to give full reports and provide drawings. poor guy. >> he was trying hard. he felt that rick was more able to absorb it. england actually provided quite a bit to him because in prospect park you walk into that long meadow and it feels any estate
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he might have walked through he walked through all these wealthy people's estate and learned about it. that had a big influence on him. not just the public park, that was -- >> he visited a lot of the state. there's a wonderful description of him visiting a castle in wales. one of my favorite descriptions. he wrote a letter, a diary entry in which he described it as the most private grounds and had to pull some strings to visit the grounds. he first of all had a feeling of what a beautiful place, so free of the rabble and so beautiful and well manicured and then a pendulum swing thought which he recorded next moment. as an american this is so non egalitarian. to be appreciating this landscape which has been cloistered. he had his epiphanies that this
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is a beautiful landscape but as an american i can even think about reproducing such a landscape. it should be for the masses. he had an experience a lot of americans have visiting england which is taken up by the pageantry but at the same time i am an egalitarian at heart. >> they are very much influenced by the way people look at parks in the states at that time, was really will wealthy enclaves, places that were fed -- fenceed. there is an amazing difference in terms of what could happen. i would like to talk about mr. vox. 4 foot 10. >> that is right. >> stuttered and had problems. talk a little bit about him but
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how important that relationship was. olmstead did some great work after vox but he was truly at his greatest in his systems and all those things. maybe chicago was equal but we can't experience that now. talk a little bit about that relationship. that was so interesting. >> as you are describing, some of the great parks. central park, those are vox and olmstead working as collaborators and olmstead once said -- and won't get the exact quotation but in essence were not for vox 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 a lot comes the panic of 1857.
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terrible economic cataclysms. olmstead lost his job and took a new job clearing this ugly piece of land prosaically named for its position in the middle of new york city called central park. hee was clearing it for someone else's designed. he was knocking down shanties. vox is an english train architect who looked around and said the existing design was terribly amateurish. he had friends in high places. he designed a fifth avenue mansion for one of the board members of the future central park. let's throw out this design and a new one, hold public competition to get the best design for something. so olmstead and vox teamed up together. not because vox thought olmstead was amazing as a journalist covering the south in the antebellum era but because he had been on this piece of land
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knocking down shanties, he would be a perfect partner because he knows the way of the land. they teamed up and basically olmstead brought these ideas bubbling from all of these -- almost like apprentice ships he had served in these areas. vox brought training and polish and drafting skills which olmstead never had. vox was a member of the hudson river school. he was a contemporary. he hung out with frederic church, the great landscape painter. he was married to mary mcentee who was the sister of an esteemed painter. vox brought this hudson river school aesthetic with him. vox in traveling these circles have an idea he expressed very well in which he said it was for
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his private oh, nature first, second and third. architecture after a while. if you look at central park or prospect park a lot of people suggest those are hudson river school paintings slapped in the middle of the city. vox was the engine for that and also as a trained architect trained in england he created -- he was brilliant at creating structures in the parks. beautiful bridges in central park. a lot on the table especially for being 4 foot 10. >> olmstead teamed up with architect after the mid 70s when they split. they had ego problems that were fascinating. that was one of the more
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interesting parts of the book. talk 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. they describe these parts as olmstead's parks and vox took umbrage at that. he felt they were an equal partnership. vox was 1-on-1 with olmstead. you can see it. it is no accident they twice constituted firms called olmstead, vox and company. vox had to fight hard. you are a partner in olmstead, vox and company have a sense how your partner feels about you and olmstead had these entrees in the journalistic world that cause vox to get short shrift again and again.
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vox had an incredible -- he drove the breakup of the two of them as much as olmstead did. vox was the designer of the dairy in central park. of beautiful structure and the bow bridge and so forth. vox had a desire to instead of being olmstead, vox and company designing beautiful bridges and beautiful structures he thought he would like to be one of the preeminent designers of buildings and he landed two unbelievable commissions. metropolitan museum of art and natural history. he landed both commissions and he and olmstead who always fought and put vox in the uncomfortable position to say let's break up, olmstead said let's break a. vox went to do these commissions but one problem is he burned with a white flame for pure art. he was a small man pushing this glass on his nose.
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he stuttered and stumbled and had trouble working with clients. olmstead was a journalist among his many types of training was good at speaking to clients and maintaining these relationships. vox without olmstead fumbled both commissions and late in his career had to look to the kindness of strangers and even olmstead for the few commissions he was able to garner. he was unable to execute his commissions and was on the decline. >> there is always great debate in prospect park because vox came up with the 0 original concept of prospect park before olmstead was involved. he had to beg him to come back from his miserable life of prospect banking. you put a lot of light in that
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relationship. very interesting. do you think olmstead did as well with other architects who came along in his life? very good relationship -- >> richardson. >> he died at 45. >> i don't think he ever found a party work with as well as vox and had integrated designed and thought as much about. vox brought to the table prospect park. hee was originally supposed to be two separate pieces of land with a bridge between them. vox said let's make it one contiguous piece of land. vox provided a lot of ideas. a lot of division of labor partnerships that literally richardson was going to design structures. olmstead was going to think about landscape. some of these folks like
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richardson has such massive egos that he was going to be signed a bridge that looked however he felt it should look. olmstead's designed be damned. he was willing to accept that relationship because there can't be that many bridges in a park to design. >> a lot of interesting topics came up. the chicago world's fair was amazing because here was this guy -- >> would have been in his late 70s. >> he was told at that time. you mention google. but travel. you have all these commissions going on at the same time and he is doing a rush job for chicago. >> her olmstead was not at ease in his old age. in that era being in your late
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60s or 70s you have outlived the lot of contemporaries and olmstead did not settle into a restful latter years. he became fevered because landscape architecture is so different from a painting or work of music. is never final. he had a real anxiety that after he was gone all of his work would be undone. he spent his whole adult life fighting against people meddling with say central park which was always a place everybody wanted to fix something or a race course or something. he was always fighting those things. he had a sense because he and vox pioneered landscape architecture that after he was gone everything might be reversed. there were a couple commissions that late in life he was desperate to stake his reputation. as an old man by the standards
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of that day he hurtled all over the united states taking on commissions in milwaukee, kansas city, denver, north carolina and a bunch of other places at he would work on the chicago world's fair. became up with a preposterous formula to give half of his attention to the world fair and have to the biltmore estate all the way down in north carolina. he would give attention -- he had used up 100% -- what he would do is he would be working on the chicago world's fair grounds and when he sensed there was a break in the action he would sneak down to ashville where his client was george vanderbilt the richest man in the world. he would seek off to louisville which was close to asheville and do some work on their part system. he was desperately traveling around taking these late night rail rights to secure his reputation and make sure he left a big lasting legacy.
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he figured if he did enough parks some of them would last. >> and writing letters all the time. we send short e-mails to everybody that will vanish off the face of the earth. for an archivist it is fabulous because he wrote thousands of letters. >> it was the nineteenth century. olmstead was a man about town. he had a lot of friends. the best way to describe it is if he crossed the street he did a diary entry about it. he was writing letters about it. he was a journalist. he wrote an article about it and several friends had diary entries or letters they wrote about him crossing the street. to a biographer it created so many takes on any given action but it was an embarrassment to be able to be able to have so many -- for him to account for
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them in very articulate, insightfully and very long -- nothing like e-mails today. 10 or 15 pages of explanation of his being enraged about a park design be rolled back and other people he would send these letters to responding to create a rich trove to dig into. >> nobody will be as easy to follow. a lot of other people's opinions. >> consider a facebook page. >> i wonder what his facebook page would look like. he a horrible foods. his diet was terrible. interesting you say that. in the 1890s he was brought back to prospect park to figure out where the tennis house should go. he doesn't like the tennis house.
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is a former architectural piece. he does say at that time, this is the perfect park. there's a little preference in your book for central park. as somebody from prospect park and spent 30 years there i would agree with olmstead that that was the perfect part because he had all this money, complete freedom and in central park, everybody is picking on him. what do you think? >> will play. [talking over each other] >> i know that quote. >> hi found a letter 1870's 3. central park was the best -- >> he did love central park.
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>> the way i would attempt to counter that is sort of the old -- i would think about musicians like paul simon. i heard him interview where he said my early work with simon and garfunkel was amateurish and youthful. i was at the top of my game doing my world music but i have a feeling artists are not the best of 40 on their own work. if olmstead fell prospect park with his strongest work central park was his masterpiece based on two things. that was his first work and i think he brought all this. that was -- all this spontaneity. all these ideas came to the surface. that was where all of a sudden he goes from being surveyor
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turned farmer turned sailor. the other suggestion i would make his central park is a masterful design because of the restraint. it is a perfect rectangle of light prospect park which is very organic. an organic natural shape. central park is a perfect rectangle. terrible piece of land which is why it was chosen to be a park. a wretched piece of land people didn't want and felt real estate could develop elsewhere. olmstead faced with that constrained on top of the constraint of the design competition have all kinds of mandatory demands, things that had to be done. olmstead had is terribly constrained shape and piece of land. he and vox brought the best creative thinking they could to
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make this constrained space have a sense of grandeur and scale. talk about a park that is half a mile wide which means you could never be anywhere where you are more than a quarter mile away from civilization, from roads so it is a considerable dilution. you can get lost in that park and feel like you are in nature. that is my -- >> i will add to that argument. ..
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>> they learned from their mistakes. [laughter] so they found somebody who was willing to front the whole thing and not ask them a single question. >> uh-huh. >> and they were able to use a lot of the team that they had put together, and i think that's the other thing about olmsted that's so interesting is his ability to manage, you pointed that out in many parts of it. but managing by taking really good people who could handle the job. >> very true. no, he would, i mean, a lot of these park designs really involved going in, doing the initial, doing the drafting, in olmsted's case writing some kind of documentation of a park plan, and then you really had to turn it over to someone else, at least with central park and prospect park he was able to make periodic visit although i don't think he visited that often, and he was off other places. and, of course, when he was working in any of these other
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places, milwaukee or whatever it might be, again, he was so dependent on the people on the ground. so as you said, he he had to pick well and really hope that these people would do the actual practical work of designing the park, you know, demolition of, you know, blasting rocks and so forth, whatever's necessary, and being true to his plan because he certainly wasn't going to be able to micromanage it. >> exactly. so i think now we're supposed to open to questions from all the rest of you, and i think you do that part. i just sit here. >> well, thank you, tupper. also, if there's any questions -- [applause] >> the rules are that you have to wait until the microphone has gotten to you. there's someone over here. because this is all on the television. >> thank you. your talk was so good that aisle going to for-- i'm going to forgive you for saying that fox
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was good, in effect, in spite of can of -- [inaudible] [laughter] i would like you both, if you will, to comment on the idea that although olmsted was a devout egalitarian, arguably, the origin in the early years of central park -- not so egalitarian in the village and the great battle to kick out the community that was attach today this little village -- attached to this little village, the rules against baseball playing, the discouraging of picnicking and so forth up until, i guess, about 1900, it wasn't very working person-friendly. and how did both the origin and the early years reflect olmsted's ideas? >> do you want to -- >> you should talk about seneca because i don't know as much about that. >> sure. well, the first thing, seneca village was an african-american
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community. it had 264 people, and it was on -- it was right about where, oh, i guess right about where across from the natural history museum, in effect, was where there it was. and it was one of the many places that was ultimately razed to make central park. olmsted cleared a bunch of structures, but he wasn't really involved in the land acquisition and the driving out of people. that was actually among other people one of the yankee greats -- >> wow. >> yep. who helped literally drive people off the land. so you've got to go after the former yankee greats on that one. [laughter] but olmsted, i guess, i feel a very valid argument that you make that, you know, there was something, olmsted as a 19th century, he had noblesse only jay. he felt that he was egalitarian, and he wanted to, he wanted to
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condescend to, you know, people who were, you know, you know, who were the lower classes, quote, and give them rightful entertainments and rightful diversions. so there was some element of that there. but i guess what i'd say is you have to put him in the context of his times and you also have to give him credit for his intent. and his intent was that these be egalitarian places and spaces. he really did want that. now, he had very specific ideas about what people should be doing in the parks. he liked the idea that they should be edified, hearing orchestras playing music, you know, they should be ice skating and walking around with their hands behind their back looking at nature and contemplating, that kind of thing. he didn't want them to be doing rabblish types of things. he put up signage that said things like do not annoy birds by throwing missiles, things like that. [laughter] so he was very, you know, he had some very -- and i think you
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allude to, you know, keep off the grass which was one of his. >> right. >> but ultimately, his intent was in a 19th century context progressively egalitarian. and i guess the other thing i would say is i had the opportunity to look at a whole bunch of late 1850s accounts of central park, literally, 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 and mingling in the park. even though i know it was hard to get to central park for certain people, it was expensive for a large family to take whatever conveyances existed in the 19th century, but people managed to do it. if nothing else, some people walked to the park, and when they got there, at least according to 1850s accounts which is really early in the game, you had something very new. uptupper mentioned earlier you d things like st. john's square, gated parks, a key to those people who were on the periphery. central park was open to everyone, and, you know, even
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early in the game there were a lot of different people mixing and mingling. maybe not as many as there should be, and maybe they were walking with their hands behind their backs as opposed to playing sports and rolling around in the grass and so forth, but, at least -- >> but i also think, um, you know, he put dairies in both central and prospect because that is a way for poor people to get milk because there wasn't pasteurization yet. he was a lot of social reform was very important to him. he had a friend, mr. brace, who was -- i learned a lot about in your book -- who was the children's aid society guy. and he really wanted to make healthy living for young people who were kept in terrible conditions, um, sometimes had to work seven, five or six days a week. so i think he did a lot more than anybody else had thought about doing in a public space
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and believed in that mixing so that you might have the place where the carriages could go and see a beautiful view, but you saw an even more beautiful view when you walked the walks that the poor people could walk. and, um, al fine who's a writer about olmsted who died many years ago talked about how olmsted really wanted people to feel that any man could stand on a hillside and say to his family, this is our estate. so that he took that sort of english, you know, concept and really wrote about that and felt strongly about it. so i think he did a pretty good job considering. can't get there. [laughter] >> thanks. justin, you mentioned that, you mentioned that olmsted won the
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design competition to design central park. what was it about their design that made it beat out all of the others? >> it really stood out. i mean, it was distinctly different from the others. there were 33 competitors, and it really stood out from the others in a couple regards. one of the main things was it kind of relates to what tupper was just saying about the person standing up on the hillside and being able to look out and say this belongs to me. it had, it had a naturalistic aesthetic which was taken directly from the hudson river school, and it was very different. a lot of the other 32 designs were imperial parks, had archways and grand fountains and all this stuff. and olmsted felt very strongly it would be a constant reminder to visitor of the park of their lowly station in the world. they'd have to pass underneath arches and think, you know, what great general or political leader is this a celebration of, oh, but i am lowly whereas
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nature olmsted was very aware belongs to everyone. so part of what made it distinguished the park design from the other 32 was its naturalistic design, the sort of notion that it was very nature-based. it was kind of radical at the time. a lot of these other people wanted elaborate, overdesigned parks with lot of fountainry and so forth. i described earlier that there were mandatory requirements for all 33 designs, all designs that were submitted. one of the mandatory requirements was that central park be crossed at four different spots, at four different places. and the other 32 contestants, they just contended with this requirement, and they just came up with, you know, four roads crossing a narrow reck rectangl. they had these cramped plans where you couldn't have any expanse of meadow, you wouldn't have any open vista, what have you. olmsted came up with this beautiful innovation, and it was
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having subterranean channels across the park in four spots. you could build land bridges across the sunken channels at certain points, and by having land bridges all of a sudden you open up the plan so you had, you could have some open meadows, you could have some vistas and long views. olmsted said if you walk across the park, you wouldn't have your view interrupted by a clattering dung cart. [laughter] it would be traveling subterraneanly. and that design element continues to work to this day because people walking through central park probably are often unaware, i know i am, that very close by there might be taxis and buses hurtling by. so that was one of the -- and the, um, at least enough of the commissioners to vote yes and to give them the winning design recognized that was a brilliant, brilliant innovation. so -- i think that guy actually had -- >> okay. [laughter]
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>> yeah. the civil war it's usually considered a major influence in anyone who participated, and i'm thinking of the way he approached his artistic life later on. whatever the challenge was, just like the union army, i'll go and i'll meet it; rochester, chicago, milwaukee, meet the challenge. also the fearlessness of the chicago lagoon idea. >> uh-huh. >> you could almost say that's like grant at frederick burg. so much an impossiblily difficult challenge, and sherman said i would never do that, and here he had the guts to do that. so do you think this is an experience that you say this sense of what that great battle -- >> you know what? that's a great -- i never even thought about that, but, you know, olmsted was really good friends with william he baron jenny, the aide-de-camp to sherman when sherman was ewe lis
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sis s. grant's something. and they were trying to cake vicksburg -- take vick burg, they were on the louisiana side, and they wanted to take the fortress city of vicksburg. jenne came up with this crazy idea that they should dig trenches and come up and send boats and take vicksburg from the other side to shock vicksburg when all of a sudden the union troops came in from the side that they didn't expect it. the plan didn't work, but they met during the civil war, they became friends, jenne later was a brilliant engineer, and in that area, you know, you could turn that into something very different. he ultimately became one of the early people to build skyscrapers in chicago. and olmsted went to chicago and came up with a crazy lagoon system. hadn't thought of it, but it's very possible that olmsted inspired by jenne's failed plan to take vicksburg from the other side went to chicago and came up with the lagoon system.
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works for me. [laughter] so -- >> great talk, really enjoying it. you mentioned the hudson river school several times, and as a painter i'm curious were the specific locations in the park in prospect or in central park that were direct quotations from paintings that are known or a general sense of space and foreground medium and background? >> you'll like this. olmsted -- vox, rather, when -- as the plan for central park went with on, it became necessary for i think the original plan called for something like nine bridges, and as the plan went on, he started designing all these bridges and archways. and vox liked to position the archways so that it framed what would feel like hudson river view. he never made reference to literal hi quoting, you know --
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literally quoting some work by church or cowles or anything like that. he never said i'm literally referencing this. but he did, he designed the archways so as you're walking as a pedestrian, you're walking under an archway where horses and carriage traffic are going above, and it was literally meant so if you were standing as a pedestrian, it framed the view like a hudson river view school, so that really -- >> [inaudible] >> you know, to me one of the most exciting things about being a landscape architect is just that. you have to think about it when it's going to start, when it's going to be middle-aged, when it's going to get old. and to me that's the most fascinating thing about managing a 150--year-old park and how do you recreate those vistas that are so important. i mean, they still all work.
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um, and you can still, you still when you walk through this archway, you really have to be able to see. and when i got there, somebody had put, like, a lamp post right in the middle of the avenue, you know, because every 20 feet you put the lamp post. so, of course, it was right in the center. there are and i think that's a fascinating issue with landscape architecture because, um, what do they, you know, how do you think that way? >> uh-huh. >> you know, you make a painting as an artist, you've made the painting. they are making a painting that is going to go and change and change and change, and it's on purpose going to change. so it's pretty, it's a pretty exciting concept, i think. >> [inaudible] because the quaker cemetery was there which is a fascinating place. i was lucky to take a tour there -- >> yeah. >> they had, they had no
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problem. they said they'd -- >> they made a deal. the quakers had, were forced to move their cemetery out of manhattan because of the sanitation issues of the day. so just five or six years before the -- i'm assuming that you don't know this whole story. [laughter] >> yeah, i don't know. i'm interested to hear it, so yeah. >> five or six years beforehand they had purchased this land. they purchased a few different pieces of land. and 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 and be where the botanic garden and the library and the museum are. so it was this odd shape. and so they weren't in the park proper at that time. so when vox came up with this
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idea of let's leave flat bush avenue over there and hold that other land for institutional development because everybody's trying to push their museums into central park, they finally did have to buy that land. so they didn't buy it, 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 into prospect park and go to visit that grave. but you better know who it is. [laughter] >> there's a guy -- is there somebody in the back? >> i just had a question about his later life. you mentioned he was -- [inaudible] but i understand he may have a house in massachusetts.
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i'm not too sure. if you could comment about that, if he actually did settle down at the end of his life or if, you know, i'm just curious about your comments. >> well, he moved up to massachusetts in the early 1880 when he had the opportunity. what happened was kind of his work was drawing up in new york, he'd done everything he could, he'd done a couple masterpieces in central park and prospect park, and he's worked on morningside park and so forth, so his work was drying up. and meanwhile, circa the late 1870s, early 1880s, all of a sudden boston comes down and want him to do an entire series of parks. at that point he was thrilled. he really, as i said, his work in new york had dried up, but further more he was born in hartford, connecticut, and he wanted very badly to return to new england. but his father had recently died, and when his father died, he got into a really bruising
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estate battle with his mother-in-law. so in effect he couldn't go home again, he couldn't go back to hartford. so work in new york dries up, work suddenly appears in boston. they hire him to do the whole emerald necklace. if you can't go back to hartford, go back to boston. so he moves there in 1881 and lives there for the rest of his life. but, you know, he moved to brookline which was a suburb. he's actually also excited to move to the suburbs because -- [laughter] in that era there wasn't, you know, it was all the things thats has shaping today, but then it was very fresh. the ideas, oh, i can live near the city and have a yard. so he bought a house in brookline, had two acres of land surrounding it, and he land scaped that land just beautifully, created sort of a personal park. and fairstead, it's closed right now. they're renovating it.
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it's in brookline, but it'll be open again -- >> it's a national park. >> yes, it's a national park. and it'll be open soon. when i was describing earlier that crazy hurtling, brookline would be his base, but he would be away from fairstead and brookline for months at a time as he went over midnight rails all over the country crazily trying to attend to various commissions. >> and then he, ultimately, died in another place. >> that is right. [laughter] if you'd like me to speak to that, that's an interesting -- yeah, olmsted loved designing mental institutions, the grounds of mental institutions. one of his favorite types of conditions. he did about a half dozen of them, including the hartford asylum in connecticut. make of that what you will. and a number of other different mental institutions. he loved doing mental
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institution designs because it was literally a therapeutic landscape if he did it right. one of the many he did was from mcclain asylum. he first started doing design in the '70s, and he had incredible, rich ideas about what he wanted to bring to this design. at the end of his life, he started showing the first signs of some kind of senile dementia. he became increasingly agitated and confused and even became kind of violent. so, ultimately, he was confined to mcclain which was on, which was, um, on the outskirts of boston, and upon checking many to mcclain, reportedly, he said confound them, they didn't follow my design. [laughter] >> it was, like, just when he was most worried about it. >> it was not a therapeutic design for him. [laughter] >> now, are there archives in
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brookline, are there archives that are available, and is it, like, a formal library, or is it open to scholars or what? >> it is just the, it's the place that people go as a landscape architect. >> i think fairstead no longer will have the archives. they, because it can't be kept as well as it should be. so the archives have been moved to an archive world where they can be kept, but you can still get to them. so you wouldn't -- >> [inaudible] >> physically, i don't remember where they've moved it. do you know? you don't know where they are. >> [inaudible] >> it's still in the boston area. so they've moved it to an archival place where those things can be kept. my staff when they were doing the research about prospect park were allowed to go to fairstead and go through, you know, touching things that, you know, really probably shouldn't have been. but you found a lot of other
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places, though, and what would you say was your best treasure-trove? >> definitely the library of congress. i guess what we're alluding to here is the actual designs, literally the designs of the park which would have been fun for me but given my deadline, it was not really the central topic. but for a landscape architect, this is the place you'd want to go. for me whatn't wanted -- what i wanted to look at were letters, articles he'd written in obscure, long-defunct magazines, that kind of thing. the places for that were the library of congress. it's actually spread out among five particularly good archives which were the library of congress, the loeb library at harvard, the new york public library which has some stuff from the united states sanitary commission, the civil war medical outfit he headed up, the stanford archive, and there was one other which slipped my mind.
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but, basically, those were the places to visit. and then there's also beyond that just because, you know, how much work he did, there are seven volumes, eight volumes of papers by a brilliant scholar has spent the last -- >> [inaudible] >> basically, the best way to describe it is a lot of letters you can literally find in these seven volumes which are rigorously annotated, and each volume is seven or eight hundred pages long. i read all seven. it's not for the -- >> not for the weak of heart. >> those were wonderful because that means you can have seven volumes you can set beside your desk and refer to. but those are just certain papers to supplement that, you have to go to all the other archives i described to look at the papers not published in those seven volumes. that just gives you an idea of the volume of stuff olmsted and his cohorts produced.
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>> i wonder if sleep deprivation is a requirement of being a good designer. [laughter] >> yeah. i know he was a terrible insomniac. >> as with you, i live in proximity to a fruit of his son rick's work n my case, forth byron park which came along many decades later. i was wondering if you could say a few words about olmsted's relationship in terms of work with his son. >> i guess with rick particularly? >> yeah. >> the best way to describe it is, um, you had a strange division where john charles was, um, olmsted's stepson. and john charles, as tupper said, he was a talented draftman, but he was, as olmsted in a terribly cool letter said, you are not a man of genius.
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and so whereas rick was his natural son had late in life, and here's something really bizarre, rick was called boy for the first two years of his life because olmsted had lost a couple of children. he was so fearful that something would happen to this child, he simply called him "boy." and when he hit the age of 2, he was christened henry. at the age of 7 he was christened frederick frederick law olmstead jr. and frederick law olmstead jr. and also olmsted was in his 40s or 50s when he he had this young boy. and rick entered college when olmsted was an old man, in his 60s. and there are wonderful letters in which olmsted just demands
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that rick, you know, sort of account for his time, show his passion for landscape architecture as he's starting away in school. and rick deflected one of them by simply describing a football game. [laughter] dad, leave me alone, here's a new sport which you don't understand at all, i'm just going to describe the action. really i feel like the interesting thing with rick is he had all this parental pressure which was, you know, unavoidable, but he also seems to have had a genetic bequest, that's the only way to put it, of olmsted's talent, olmsted's vision for landscape. so when rick finally found himself despite all this pressure, rick proved to be an incredibly able architect, and he took landscape architecture, he and john charles who teemed up in -- teamed up in a very uncomfortable firm, they took it to the 21st century. all kinds of things all over the
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country. rick professionally dropped the jr., and so -- and rick retired and died shortly afterwards, in 1958. so you have olmsted starts working on central park in 1858, rick dies in 1958, but he dropped the junior professionally, so it appears that olmsted worked for 100 years. [laughter] >> he was fabulous. >> had some some -- [inaudible] a point of pride. they're often, you know, royal parks that have been given over to the people, but, you know,
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there was something, it certainly was something that olmsted drew on in the his experience of visiting europe. in america you had a couple things. you did have some sort of paddocks and squares, you had the concept of the colonial square, you had things like the boston common which i think is from the 1830s, maybe, and it's really a colonial-era square, a place where people can meet, you know, and there could be public discourse and so forth. but these were very limited in the size. the main thing you had in america in that era, um, for really relaxing were cemeteries. yeah, you had greenwood cemetery, mount auburn, you had a whole bunch of cemeteries where people would go, and they would walk around, and they would, you know, they would picnic in the shade of a mausoleum. that was what, that was what was available to the public in that era. and so that's part of what made central park and prospect park and these other things extraordinary. these were large spaces, designful spaces that, you know,
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weren't cemeteries and weren't little paddocks and squares in the middle of cities. uh-huh. >> and did you want to know, also, about, um, one of the questions i thought that kim out of that was -- came out of that was there was a contest for central park. did they often have to enter contests to get these designs. >> actually, very rarely. there might have been others, boston held a contest for the very first park that olmsted ended up designing. they held a contest, and it was a swamp where bostonians were throwing garbage. so the winner of the contest had a simple plan, let's just lay an ornamental flower bed on top of a swamp. the boston park commissioners became disenchanced with it, so this guy won the contest, they
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paid a designer $500 for his floral park system and then they called in olmsted the to do a thoughtful design. olmsted said this looks to me like a really decrepit salt marsh, so he came up with this elaborate heavy on the engineering plan to return it to being a salt marsh rather than, you know, come up with an ornamental garden. that's the only other contest i can think of that olmsted was in some fashion involved in. >> hi. i wondered if you could comment on mary, his sister-in-law and then wife. [laughter] and of all that she -- and the role that she played in his life. some of the letters suggest that she was a real partner for him in terms of the kind of shorthand that he writes to her, oh, can you fix this design, can
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you do this? whether it was kind of a marriage of convenience, you know, i'm going to marry my deceased brother's wife or love or some combination of the two? >> sure. mary, um, olmsted's brother john died of tiew berg low tuberculosis. olmsted actually had had a flirtation with mary before john, and mary married. olmsted concluded that mary sort of in modern parlance was friendship material only. john, however, fell in love with mary, and when john died of tuberculosis, literally, his death bed letter that has, lite, a p.s.. it says, p.s., don't let mary suffer while you're alive. literally in central park he and mary got married. olmsted adopted mary's three sons by his brother john including john charles, the elder who i described earlier, of the three sons, and then mary and he proceed to have a number of children between them
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including rick. my read on the relationship was it was a marriage born very much of obligation and also a marriage that, um, had a lot of tragedy. they had a lot of loss and a lot of, you know, they lost children and so forth. and there's also a fascinating letter that olmsted wrote in which he uses all this kind of romantic language, he talks about the stymied passion he felt while working on central park. he's referring to the fact that the board kept him from being able to realize the park plan as fully as he hoped they would, but the language he uses is so stymied romance, and he married mary while he was working on central park that it seemed to be a clue to something about their relationship. they certainly kind of, i mean, i think they were collaborators, i think they had a mutual respect for one another. you know, they stayed together, and i think that there was, you know, there was even, you know, i think a form of love there, i
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just don't think it was, you know, any kind of great passion or great -- i think it was more born of obligation, born of sorrow. so that was, that's my take on it. >> it actually was interesting, the other woman in the whole story is his daughter. that i found fashion nailing. fascinating. could you talk a little bit about what happened to her. >> are you talking about -- >> the one who ended up working in the firm, and nobody even knew who she was. >> yeah, it's very interesting. he had a daughter, marian, who she was, you know, she was a tomboy for lack of -- that's how he described her, and she lived at home in fairstead n brookline as i described, and really stayed close to olmsted and showed a real interest in the landscape work. and the thing that's kind of, i mean, there's so little documentation to be found, but i felt there's kind of a quiet
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desperation story in marian because the firm was called the olmsted brothers, it had many different names. the firm that was rick and john charles. there is very good evidence just based on letters and so forth that marian actually contributed photography of sites that they worked on all over the country, she might have done some drafting work. she was, obviously, involved in the business, yet in a different era, you know, with olmsted brothers there was no acknowledgment of the contributions of this only stead sister who was -- olmsted sister who was unmarried throughout her entire life and stayed at fairstead, the house in brookline. yeah, that's interesting. it was something when i learned more about her, i felt it was just a glimpse of what she must have done and felt, but i thought there was a great lost -- and it's literally not reconstruct bl at least unless someone finds an amazing trove of letters, but this kind of a feminist counter-history of this
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person who was very much part of the olmsted firm, clearly, and yet was not given credit. >> yeah. >> you talked earlier about the pressure senior put on his son and stepson. when he was shape shifting, so to speak, professionally, was his family worried about him? and how common was it for a middle class young man to, and older man, to go from career to career? it's a very contemporary phenomenon looking for myself and some day i'll find me, but how common was it in the victorian era to try on different professional hats? >> i think it was really uncommon, and olmsted's own father was very different than olmsted turned out to be towards his children. his own father was a kind of comfortable -- he ran a dry goods shop, and is for a lot of
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reasons he was a very, he was a very kind of quiet man who was very generous-spirited. in a way i feel like if olmsted had to pick a father, his father was probably the best person he could have picked because his father was very indulgent, emotionally -- he was emotionally expressive. he was a quiet man, but he often told his son he loved him, he showed him real atech, he showed him that he respected him while olmsted was just lost, was trying all these different professions. his father was very supportive emotionally and also very supportive financially. very unlike a typical 19th century father and pretty unlike many 21st century fathers. so it was really -- and i feel like olmsted was somebody who -- i don't think he would have benefited from a more regimented father, i think he would have taken longer to find himself maybe, gone in more radical directions. in this a way i also feel like it was the perfect father for him because he gave him enough latitude, gave him enough time
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to really become the person he's meant to be. and there's a wonderful episode at the end of olmsted's life where he's clearing out the house in hartford and battling with his mother-in-law who wants him to take all of the stuff and go, and he opens the drawer, and he finds just years worth of press clippings that his father had stored in this drawer about him from, you know, the very first public thing that he got into to this point. and olmsted actually said when his father died, can't remember the exact quotation, but something to the effect that there's nothing much at this point to continue to live for professionally, at least, so his father was crucially -- cruel in his development. -- crucial in his development. >> hi. in reading the olmsted book, um, i can't just think of olmsted as possibly manic depressive, and i was wondering what was your take on that and how that informed
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his design. >> i think if olmsted were to, you know, today were to go sit on a psychiatrist's couch, i think it'd be a matter of seconds. he'd describe a few of his symptom, and he would quickly be diagnosed probably as bipolar. you know, he would have periods of just incredible, manic activity. literally, i felt like it was two people at once reading these letters, it was exhausting just to have an idea of how much he was doing. this would be followed by paralyzed depressions where he would just lie on a couch for eachs at a time literally doing nothing. he would ask mary to read to him, he would pop mercury which was not good for you and other types of medicines. [laughter] and then he would launch back into one of these crazy periods of unbelievable activity. in the book i suggested maybe he
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would in modern terms he'd be diagnosed perhaps as bipolar, but i felt like you have to view his mental state in a 19th century context. and in the 19th century he had something really kind of wonderful available to him. i find it wonderful, anyway, he was able to have full-on breakdowns. he wasn't a rich man, but he had some means, and if you had a full-on breakdown, you could actually tell your employer, you know, i'm having a breakdown, i'm headed off to saratoga. there wouldn't be any issues about insurance -- [laughter] the employer would say, would say, oh, olmsted's a creative dynamo, and, you know, he needs this rest at saratoga, and when he returns, you know, he'll give us his best. give him a week, two weeks, a month, whatever he needs. and, actually, in this very different conception of what
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mental states were, olmsted, i think, really may have been bipolar, he was functionally bipolar. and as i said, i often envied this when i was reading it. he would spend several weeks, then he would return to the world renewed and refreshed, and he would be a creative dynamo, a monster. i mean, he would do a lot of the amazing park designs he came up, and he was a creative and active genius that came on the heels of a stint at saratoga. so i felt like this rhythm of, you know, breakdown, retreat from the world, get reterribled and re-- refreshed and renewed, create something masterful. i think in today's world it would be treated in a different way, quite literally, and maybe he wouldn't have been the creative dynamo he was. so -- >> i think -- yeah. [laughter] >> are we --?
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>> one more. >> a quick question. you mentioned that he liked to write a lot, and you mentioned frederick church. um, did he say anything about or did he talk about frederick church's house, orlana? >> i guess olmsted didn't have anything to do with orlana, although strangely frederick church is a distant relative of olmsted, and they both grew up in hartford. i kind of -- i don't have any evidence for this, i just kind of took it that, i mean, frederick church was a grand, gigantic figure, and i kind of felt like maybe olmsted and he -- given the commonality there, i took the lack of relationship as maybe a sign that both of them were a bit stand offish. they were giants in their realms, vox was much more comfortable with church for whatever reason, and they were actually very, very close friends. vox, i couldn't tell you exactly
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what he had to do with orlana, but he did help with -- you know, i'm not sure that he designed the landscape -- >> the building. >> i don't -- is that -- i don't know, i've heard different -- >> [inaudible] >> yeah. >> i don't know enough, i'm out of my depth with frederick church there, but i've heard some people say that frederick church was such a great figure that he actually did a lot of the work and vox helped. >> that's what i've heard too. >> as i say, i don't know enough about church or vox's relationship. vox definitely had something or maybe a lot to do with orlana. olmsted had little to do with it, with church except that church did briefly serve as the commissioner of central park, and olmsted made a very politic comment, something like it's very heartening that a civic minorrist is occupied in this. olmsted probably preferred the great church to a tamny hall chiseler who could have been the park commissioner. so that's really the -- that's
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another one along with marian, you know, the daughter, where it'd be wonderful to know more about, whatever, the prickly, distant relationship. maybe it wasn't that way, but that's the existing record as i was able to encounter it. >> i think we have time for one last question. >> um, you said that the family had a tragic personal life, loss of children. howthey were lost when they were much older, so was it from illness or accidents? >> he lost children a couple different ways. he had a baby who he was riding a carriage through central park. this is one of the most fascinating things i learned while researching the book. they were literally test driving a horse, so they were thinking about buying a new horse, and the horse bolted, the carriage fell over.
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mary, his wife, was in the carriage. olmsted was thrown clear and broke his thigh in three places t-bone jutted out of the, you know, out of the skin, and he was actually given very little chance of living. he recovered, and his left leg was two inches shorter. but the weird thing was the baby died eight days after the carriage accident. olmsted and mary could never imagine that that, you know, it was too weird of a coincidence. the thing that i learned for the rest of his life olmsted rarely talked about his episode, but when he did he always said that the horse had been bothered by flies, and it had bolted. in the 1920, 17 years after olmsted died, mary wrote a reminisce reminiscence and said olmsted fell asleep, drops the
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reins, the horse bolted, and that's what led to this. whichever account is true, this was mary's perception at least, and that also goes somewhere toward explaining the not-so-happy marriage of these two people. olmsted fell asleep from overwork. so that was one child and the way that child died. they also lost a son to tuberculosis. interestingly enough, he was an adult. that was owen, one of john charles' children, and he -- not john charles, john, rather, olmsted's brother -- they shared the same weak constitution that his brother had died of tuberculosis. owen clearly died of tuberculosis, but olmsted insisted he died of diabetes. people frequently get diabetes, too, so owen probably had die beet, but tuberculosis killed him. i think olmsted had a lot of guilt when owen, his charge and john's son, also died of
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tuberculosis. you had those two children, and then you've also got charlotte, another of john's children, olmsted's stepchildren, and charlotte throughout her life was very high strung, she was very -- she'd become hysterical very quickly, and she ultimately at a young age was confine today a mental institution for the rest of his -- rest of her life. so that's some of the tragedy, and then he had all this tragedy of friends who died early and so forth. >> his mother. >> and his mother, that's right. his mother who had a very, very -- when olmsted was 3 years old, his first memory was of his mother sewing under a tree with him at her feet, and his second memory was this hysterical outburst in his house. his mother died of an overdose of laud numb. she took too much of it, and the
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thing that's really interesting was she'd just gone through a congregationalist, one of these regular congregationalist events in which she was forced to be incredibly introspective. and this would have been the 1830s, and the sort of dour congregational setting, these events, people were forced to have a lot of terrible introspection, and only a few months of after this event she took an overdose of laud numb. maybe it was an overdose, or maybe she took too much on purpose after she was forced into this kind of bout of introspection. a lot of tragedy in his life. >> so on that light note -- [laughter] thank you. >> thanks a lot. [applause] >> that was justin martin on the life of frederick law olmstead. for more information, visit the author's web site,
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justinmartin1.com. >> up next, booktv interviews liz taylor, co-opener of poor richard's bookstore in frankfurt, kentucky. t part of our -- it's part of our cities tour of right southeastern cities. >> this is poor richard's books, and we're in the capital city of kentucky which is frankfurt, not louisville or lexington. and we have been in business for 33 years which is pretty outstanding for a small bookstore. we have, i think, been community-centered. we do readings, we've had music here, we do -- exchange community information. so i think we're kind of the hub of downtown and the hub of frankfurt, in fact. we're right across from the old capitol building, so we have lots of tourists coming through, visitor that need to go to our
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capitol government offices, so we have lots of folks of all different types coming through downtown. >> what are the particular type of books that the people here many this area that flock to, is it more history books, political books? what are people reading around here? >> this is a political town, so we have quite a few political books, and lincoln being born in kentucky, we sell a lot of lincoln material. but we have also have a little press that's done historic images of old frankfurt, and those books have been really successful. >> people are reading differently nowadays. what is poor richard's doing to keep up with that? >> well, people are reading differently, but people are still reading. and i think that there's a big difference in the way that things are going to end up. but i don't think we're there yet. so there's some resistance to the new electronic readers,
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especially in this area where people are just a little bit older, so -- and they don't travel as much. if i was in the metro area, i'd be on the metro line with my kindle too. but right now it's still kind of everybody's trying to figure out how it's going to go. um, authors are excited when their week books come out in e-book form, that's great because people are going to read them, but hopefully they'll give them as a gift, too, you know, real book form. >> how has business been with the changing economy? >> well, this is where mark twain said if i die, i want to die in kentucky because everything happens 20 years later? well, things happened a little bit later. there was a ripple. and so the first couple of years of the depression here have not been too bad, and then state government faltering, and that's, that's kind of hit a bit harder. but everybody's hopeful, and the bigger picture out there is
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looking better, so, you know, with the chains closing, the big box stores, we're hoping some of that trickles our way too. i started this when i was, like, 27 years old. so, yeah, so we've been at it for quite some time here, 33 years. and i'm, you know, it's still exciting every day opening the boxes and pulling the books out. it's just like having christmas every day of the year. >> liz taylor, co-owner of poor richard's bookstore in frankfurt, kentucky. to find out more on this and other interviews from booktv's cities tour, go to c-span.org/local content. >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> well, i always read in the scherr time and really throughout the year, but summertime's a great time to read because you get to catch up on stuff you've been wanting to
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read. and one book i just got finished with which is "too big to fail," and that's by sorkin. very good book. this book kind of details the financial crisis of the last few years. i've read a lot of books on this topic, things like "the big short," "financial shock." there have been a whole number of other titles. but this is the last one i read, "too big to fail. " and it's a book that details the series of events that led to the financial collapse. starting from the very roots of the crisis which were born in subprime lending, ninja loans -- no income, no job type loans -- and how those mortgages were sold on the idea that they would be able to refinance. but, of course, when the housing
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market flattened and went down, that became impossible. it goes into a lot of detail, it's actually a fascinating book. i really enjoyed reading it. of course, i'm on the financial services committee, so i kind of live it, but it was actually really fascinating to see this take on it. i also have read henry paulson's, hank paulson's book on the financial crisis as well, so this is an area that i really want to become a much better student of, and this book helped me do that, "too big to fail." and another book that i'm reading right now, and this is a book that i'm just about done with is "allah, liberty and love." "allah, liberty and love," by a good friend of mine. and i admire her willingness to question tradition and convention and she promotes this
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islamic idea of inquiry, question. and at a time when you find some people who will offer ideas based on tradition and just precedent, what has happened, she's one that says, no, there is this other tradition of inquiry -- excuse me -- and questioning. and her book, basically, is, you know, talking about how the modern islamic world has an opportunity to really incorporate ideas of liberty and freedom. and if you look at the arab spring, you know, there's no doubt that the book she's writing is actually an important perspective because that's exactly what the people of tahrir square and in tunisia and all over the region are saying, you know? they believe that they can have their faith, and they can have
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liberty. they don't have to live under authoritarian government, and she is one who's really raising some important questions. so, um, you know, i really, you know, reading is a huge part of my life. i do it all the time. i'm sure i'll be done with this book in probably a few hours or maybe even quicker than that, but then i'll be on to something else next, and i've always got a bunch of books in the queue. i have a book that i'm getting ready to read, i haven't opened it yet, but it has to do with the history of goldman sachs, the investment firm. that's in line of these other books that i've been reading about the financial crisis. and i've just got a whole list of other books that are sitting up there, and i'm getting ready, getting ready to crack them open. actually, hopefully, in august i hope to reread a few books too. you know, there's a book i read a few years ago called "100
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years of solitude," and i love that book, and i just think if i get my vacation in august, i'm just going to crack that book open and read it. i've also got a book on the history of the ottoman empire which i want to read. those are not yet being read, but i hope maybe to get to them. >> tell us what you're reading this summer. send us a tweet at booktv. >> from frankfurt, kentucky, booktv talks with connie crew, manager of the kentucky book fair. >> kentucky book fair was started 30 years ago by carl west and ellen heller, two of our founding members. they're still involved today. we're a nonprofit organization, and our purposes are to provide grants to public schools and libraries to bring readers together in a lit gaer, if you will, atmosphere -- literary, if you will, atmosphere, and to promote love of reading and
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literacy throughout the commonwealth. our last count we had about 4,000 people who attended our event. our focus is primarily on kentucky authors, but we do accept nationally-known authors. over the past 30 years, we've had just a wonderful array of authors; mickey mantle, erma bombeck, rosalynn carter, roger mud, you know, a lot of people to draw in the crowds, but we do focus on the kentucky authors as well. >> what role does this book festival play in the community? >> oh, i tend to think it's an institution. after 30 years we're one of the oldest in the country. we provide grants to public schools and libraries, so that's our sole purpose. i'm the only paid staffer, so we have about a 30-member board that governs throughout the year and kind of guides me. >> how have you noticed since the festival's been here for 30 years, has the readership changed? attendance changed? the demographic of the area changed? what have you noticed? >>

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