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

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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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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

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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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Restoring Prospect Park’s Concert Grove Pavilion | Episode 237

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Built in 1874, the Concert Grove Pavilion is a stunning example of Prospect Park co-designer Calvert Vaux’ colorful and decorative style. Earlier this year, the Prospect Park Alliance completed a $2 million restoration of the pavilion, which was last restored in 1988. Joined by Prospect Park Alliance Assistant Architect Sheena Enriquez, we will look closely at the pavilion’s beautiful details, including its cast iron columns that contain motifs borrowed from Hindu, Chinese, Moorish, and Egyptian architecture, its elaborate roof finials and eaves, and its newly-illuminated stained glass ceiling. Sheena will share how the restoration team did extensive archival research, conducted color testing to match the pavilion’s original design, and repaired and recreated damaged or missing pieces.

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The Civil War and Prospect Park | Episode 234

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Did you know that Prospect Park has a piece of Gettysburg’s famed Little Round Top? And one of the oldest statues of Abraham Lincoln in America? While memorials to the Civil War are prominent features of the park, the war itself also shaped its design. ​Co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted spent the war directing the US Sanitary Commission, which provided medical care to the Union Army, and that experience influenced his ideas on public space and public health. On this virtual tour, we will explore the park’s many Civil War connections, from Grand Army Plaza to the Parade Ground.

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Exploring Staten Island’s Olmsted-Beil House | Episode 226

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Join us for a special panel discussion and virtual tour of Staten Island’s landmark Olmsted-Beil House, an historic farmhouse and museum where landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted began his monumental career. While Central Park, Prospect Park, and countless other parks across America display Olmsted’s genius, beginning in 1848, this farmstead is where he developed his professional interest in landscape design. Here he learned horticulture, experimented with different plants and landscape forms, and wrote about his travels to public parks in Europe. On this program, we will explore the property grounds with historian and Friends of the Olmsted-Beil House board member Patricia Salmon, and we will be joined by Justin Martin, author of Olmsted biography Genius of Place.

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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Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks: Documentary and Discussion

People standing on Lullwater Bridge

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April 26 is Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthday, and for his 199th, the National Association of Olmsted Parks is kicking off a yearlong celebration as we approach his bicentennial in 2022. The first event is a panel discussion of Rebecca Messner’s 2011 documentary Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks (which prominently features Prospect Park) with TIME Magazine’s Justin Worland; Dr. Thaisa Way, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington; Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation; and Justin DiBerardinis, Director of Philadelphia’s FDR Park. When you sign up for the free panel discussion, you will receive a link to watch the documentary for free at your convenience on April 24 or 25.

To learn more about the bicentennial campaign honoring and exploring Frederick Law Olmsted, please visit www.olmsted200.org, and we will be posting special events related to Olmsted’s life and work in New York in the coming weeks.

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Portal to Prospect Park: Restoring the Endale Arch | Episode 185

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Prospect Park Alliance recently completed the restoration of the Endale Arch, one of the original portals to the park designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. Get an insider’s look at the restoration process, which required years of research, incredibly skilled craftspeople, and painstakingly detailed work to bring the arch back to its original splendor. We will be joined by Sarena Rabinowitz, Assistant Architect, Design & Construction at the Alliance about the years-long, multi-phase process to restore the full arch, and Curtis Barnhart of Barnhart Restoration & Design, which did the restoration work on the stunning interior. We will also go live to the arch itself to see these wonderful details up close. This program is offered in partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance, and the arch restoration was generously funded by the Tiger Baron Foundation, with additional support from Council Member Brad Lander through District 39 participatory budgeting.

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Prospect Park Waterways | Free Virtual Program | Episode 152

Prospect Park Well House A one-story brick structure with windows and an ornamental portico painted in pastel colors and brown with trees in the background

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Join us for a virtual exploration of Prospect Park’s waterways. We will look closely at the ingenious drainage system and chain of manmade streams and ponds that terminate in Brooklyn’s largest lake, follow the park’s scenic watercourse, and go inside one of the most unique features of the park: the 1869 Wellhouse, the park’s last remaining building by park designer Calvert Vaux, which once housed the machinery that fueled the watercourse and was recently restored by the Prospect Park Alliance and converted into the first composting restrooms in a NYC park.

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