Finding Frederick Law Olmsted in Cotton’s Kingdom with Sara Zewde | Free Virtual Program | Thursday, January 26

January 26, 2023 7:00 pm EST

Join architect Sara Zewde for this live virtual program as she shares her recent research on the impact of Frederick Law Olmsted’s journeys through the Slave States on his practice of landscape architecture. Between 1852 and 1857, while living at Staten Island’s Tosomock Farm, Olmsted traveled extensively through the South, writing about slavery and the slave economy, as a correspondent for the New York Times, and also published a series of collected volumes, including his highly influential 1861 work, Journeys and Explorations in the Cotton Kingdom.

Sara Zewde is founding principal of Studio Zewde, a design firm in New York City practicing landscape architecture, urbanism, and public art. The studio is devoted to creating enduring places where people belong. Named to the AD100 and an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York, the firm is lauded for its design methodology syncing culture, ecology, and craft. In parallel with practice, Sara serves as Assistant Professor of Practice at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Sara was named the 2014 National Olmsted Scholar by the Landscape Architecture Foundation, a 2016 Artist-in-Residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and a 2020 United States Artists Fellow. Sara holds a master’s of landscape architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a master’s of city planning from MIT, and a BA in sociology and statistics from Boston University.

This program is presented by the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House with support from Turnstile Tours.

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Frederick Law Olmsted: Designer of America & His Staten Island Roots | Episode 279

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Join historian and filmmaker Laurence Cotton (originator of and consulting producer to the PBS special Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America) as he shares the remarkable life and career of the Renaissance-man Olmsted—writer, philosopher, social reformer, advocate for the preservation of natural scenery, and creator of some of the most beautiful public and private parks and gardens in all of North America. Mr. Cotton will include a focus on Olmsted’s life on Staten Island and his time at Tosomock Farm.

This program is presented by the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House with support from Turnstile Tours.

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OLMSTED 200: Parks in Conversation | Virtual Tour of Prospect Park and Central Park | Episode 269

PAST PROGRAM | Virtual Programs

Join us for a special virtual tour in celebration of Frederick Law Olmsted’s 200th birthday that explores two of his New York City masterpieces—Central Park and Prospect Park. Built a decade apart, Central and Prospect Park share many similarities, but also reflect Olmsted’s evolution as a park designer and his lasting influence on landscape design and public space. Guides from Central Park Conservancy will be on site to highlight Central Park’s arches, meadows, and natural features, as Turnstile Tours guides examine parallel features in Prospect Park and compare and contrast the different elements of the parks, including examples of Olmsted designs that have been adapted to fit better with modern-day recreational uses and ecological practices. 

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Love in the Archives | Episode 261

PAST PROGRAM | Virtual Programs

Celebrate Valentine’s Day as we share some of our favorite love stories from history from the places that we work. We will share long-distance love letters from World War II, milestone weddings in Prospect Park, workplace romances at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and people who found their loves in public markets. We will share artifacts, newspaper clippings, oral histories, and more from various archives, and we invite participants to share their own love stories and family histories in this Zoom meeting.

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A Staten Island Farmer’s Travels Abroad with Justin Martin | Episode 260

PAST PROGRAM | Virtual Programs

Join the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a fascinating presentation by Justin Martin, author of Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Justin will highlight Olmsted’s travels to England while he lived at Tosomock Farm on Staten Island, and his subsequent writings about these travels. Olmsted departed from Staten Island for a walking tour of England in April 1850, returned in October, and both wrote (1851) and published (1852) his observations in Walks and Talks of an American farmer in England while on Staten Island. Justin will discuss how these travels influenced Olmsted’s social thinking and landscape designs.

This program is offered in partnership with the Friends of the Olmsted-Beil House as part of the ongoing celebrations for Frederick Law Olmsted’s 200th birthday year, Olmsted 200.

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A Concrete History of Brooklyn | Episode 258

PAST PROGRAM | Virtual Programs

Concrete is the world’s most ubiquitous building material, and many important milestones of its development took place in Brooklyn. In this virtual program, we will examine concrete’s history, production, and chemistry, then discuss some of the landmark structures that drove the development of steel-reinforced concrete in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From Gowanus to DUMBO, Prospect Park to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we will look at monumental buildings and small details designed by some renowned architects, including Cass Gilbert, Albert Kahn, and Calvert Vaux.

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Calvert Vaux: Architect for the People | Episode 257

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Though often overlooked due to his association with Frederick Law Olmsted, Calvert Vaux is an important figure in American architecture in his own right. A classically-trained architect, talented artist, and collaborator with landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing, he had already done major projects before working with Olmsted on Central Park, and would continue to design parks and public buildings after their partnership dissolved. To mark Vaux’ 197th birthday, we will examine his 40-year career in New York City, his distinctive architectural style, and his legacy of designing buildings and landscapes for the public good, including museums, parks both large and small, and housing for the poor.

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Olmsted, Public Health, and Urban Planning with Olmsted-Beil House | Episode 244

PAST PROGRAM | Virtual Programs

Join Turnstile Tours and the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a virtual panel discussion to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Frederick Law Olmsted’s report for the Staten Island Improvement Commission, a comprehensive plan for the island’s growth and development. We will hear unique perspectives about Staten Island in the late 1800s, Olmsted’s public health recommendations, and his legacy in the greenest borough of New York City. The panel will include Prof. Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Director of Graduate Landscape Architecture Program at City College’s Spitzer School of Architecture; Jessica Kratz of the Staten Island Greenbelt Nature Center; naturalist Ed Johnson, emeritus curator of science at the Staten Island Museum; and moderated by Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours.

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Climate Change Conversation with Prospect Park Alliance Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein | Episode 242

PAST PROGRAM | Virtual Programs

Join the conversation during Climate Week NYC with Prospect Park Alliance‘s Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein. Howard will share insights on the unique challenges the part faces as the borough’s only forest, and what impact climate change is having the composition of the forest, the biodiversity that it supports, and the pests that threaten its health in the short- and long-term future.

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Battle of Brooklyn: Revolutionary War Sites of Prospect Park | Episode 238

PAST PROGRAM | Virtual Programs

To celebrate Brooklyn Battle Week, take a virtual walk through Prospect Park and follow the battle lines of the largest engagement of the Revolutionary War. We will see see where American forces tried unsuccessfully to stop the British advance at Battle Pass, follow the path some used to escape to join the main battle in Gowanus, and visit the many Revolutionary War monuments in the park, including Daniel Chester French’s sculpture to the Marquis de Lafayette and Stanford White’s memorial to the 1st Maryland Regiment.

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