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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Virtual Inside Industry at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for Open House New York | Episode 278

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More than 50 Brooklyn Navy Yard tenants welcomed the public on Open House New York Weekend, with manufacturers, artists, designers, and eateries hosting tours and open studios. We again hosted a series of virtual tours on the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Instagram Live @bklynnavyyard, featuring woodworking school Bien Hecho Academy, artist Nina Summer, non-profit Little Essentials, green builder Urbanstrong, and fashion designer Courtney Washington.

Watch on the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Instagram IGTV.

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Barge Family Reunion Celebration: The Tideshift Project, Session 2 | Episode 274

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The Waterfront Museum presents the Barge Family Reunion Celebration, stories and images from people who have lived and worked aboard barges and their families. This is the second part of The Tideshift Project, a three-part series of oral history collecting events presented live, virtually, and in person aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Railroad No. 79 wooden lighterage barge moored at 290 Conover St in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In this series of events, The Waterfront Museum will record stories from waterfront workers who have handled freight in and near Red Hook and from their descendants. The Tideshift Project was funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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

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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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A Concrete History of Brooklyn | Episode 258

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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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Exploring New York City’s Stair Streets with Michael Cairl | Episode 255

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For the past three years, our friend Michael Cairl has been recovering from a stroke that limited his mobility and transformed how he gets around the city. As part of his recovery, Michael has been exploring the city in new ways and documenting it on his blog, On Foot, On Wheels. On foot, he has been climbing the city’s many stair streets, tackling more than 20 of them on his urban walks with friends and family. There are over 100 mapped public streets in the city that are actual staircases, most of them in the hilly sections of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, (including the one made famous by the 2019 film Joker), but Michael’s also climbed them in Brooklyn and Queens. On this virtual program, Michael will share some of his favorite spots he has discovered, and his passion for making the city more accessible to all. While you can’t navigate these streets on wheels, Michael’s adaptive tricycle built by Adapt Ability allowed him to continue his love of cycling, and all proceeds from this program will support Adapt Ability Bikes.

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Calyo’s New York: Vistas and Vendors of the mid-1800s | Episode 251

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In 1835, Naples-born painter Nicolino Calyo arrived in New York, and over the next 20 years, he produced a body of work that captured both the grandeur and minutia of city life. An experienced landscape painter, one of his first works was also one of the grandest—a series of paintings of the great fire of December 16–17, 1835, which would build his fame in America and lead to a number of touring exhibitions, including large-scale panoramas, a popular entertainment of the era. He also produced over 100 paintings of street vendors, and invaluable catalogue of the sidewalk economy of 1840s New York. In this virtual program, we will discuss Calyo’s life and career, and examine some of his most notable works, large and small.

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Brooklyn Army Terminal Virtual Tour for Open House New York | Episode 248

A dramatic look up at the window frames that connect two sides of the Brooklyn Army Terminal's gigantic and imposing Building B, made of poured concrete with off-set balconies

PAST PROGRAM | Virtual Programs

Take a virtual visit to one of the most popular sites of Open House New York Weekend, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and join us for a live exploration of the site’s architecture, history, and industry. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert and built in 1918–1919, the Terminal is an architectural and engineering marvel that served as a major military installation for nearly 50 years. Today it is a city-owned industrial park that is home to over 100 tenants, including manufacturers, technology companies, nonprofits, artists, and more. On this virtual tour, we will explore the history and architecture of the stunning atrium, and visit with Adapt Ability Bikes, a nonprofit that builds adaptive bicycles for people with disabilities, and stop into BioBAT Art Space to see the work of artist Tatiana Arocha.

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