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Biography[ edit ] Early life and education[ edit ] Olmsted was born in Hartford, Connecticut , on April 26, His father, John Olmsted, was a prosperous merchant who took a lively interest in nature, people, and places; Frederick Law and his younger brother, John Hull, also showed this interest.
His mother, Charlotte Law Hull Olmsted, died before his fourth birthday. When the young Olmsted was almost ready to enter Yale College , sumac poisoning weakened his eyes, so he gave up college plans.
After working as an apprentice seaman, merchant, and journalist, Olmsted settled on a acre farm in January on the south shore of Staten Island NY, a farm which his father helped him acquire. Daniel Fawcett Tiemann , the mayor of New York, officiated the wedding.
Frederick and Mary had two children together who survived infancy: Their first child, John Theodore Olmsted, was born on June 13, , and died in infancy. This supported his getting additional work. Interested in the slave economy, he was commissioned by the New York Daily Times now The New York Times to embark on an extensive research journey through the American South and Texas from to My own observation of the real condition of the people of our Slave States, gave me He argued that slavery had made the slave states inefficient a set amount of work took 4 times as long in Virginia as in the North and backward both economically and socially.
The profits of slavery fell to no more than 8, owners of large plantations; a somewhat larger group had about the standard of living of a New York City policeman, but the proportion of the free white men who were as well-off as a Northern working man was small.
The citizens of the cotton States, as a whole, are poor. They work little, and that little, badly; they earn little, they sell little; they buy little, and they have little — very little — of the common comforts and consolations of civilized life. Their destitution is not material only; it is intellectual and it is moral They were neither generous nor hospitable and their talk was not that of evenly courageous men.
Olmsted provided financial support for, and occasionally wrote for, the magazine The Nation , which was founded in Standing on the pathway over the span, from Right: Downing had brought Vaux from England as his architect collaborator. After Downing died in July , in a widely publicized steamboat explosion on the Hudson River , Olmsted and Vaux entered the Central Park design competition together, against Egbert Ludovicus Viele among others.
Prior to this, in contrast with the more experienced Vaux, Olmsted had never actually designed and executed a landscape design. They were announced as winners in On his return from the South, Olmsted began executing their plan almost immediately. Olmsted and Vaux continued their informal partnership to design Prospect Park in Brooklyn from to Influenced by Downing and his own observations regarding social class in England, China, and the American South, Olmsted believed that the common green space must always be equally accessible to all citizens, and was to be defended against private encroachment.
This principle is now fundamental to the idea of a "public park", but was not assumed as necessary then. He tended to the wounded during the American Civil War. In during Union General George B. In addition to the above Olmsted helped to raise three colored African American regiments in New York City and organized a fair which raised one million dollars for the United States Sanitary Commission.
Olmsted not only created numerous city parks around the country, he also conceived of entire systems of parks and interconnecting parkways to connect certain cities to green spaces. Some of the best examples of the scale on which Olmsted worked are the park system designed for Buffalo, New York , one of the largest projects; the system he designed for Milwaukee, Wisconsin , and the park system designed for Louisville, Kentucky , which was one of only four completed Olmsted-designed park systems in the world.
He called the home and office compound Fairsted. Conservationist[ edit ] Olmsted was an important early leader of the conservation movement in the United States. An expert on California, he was likely one of the gentlemen "of fortune, of taste and of refinement" who proposed, through Senator John Conness, that Congress designate Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove as public reserves. He described the "sublime" and "stately" landscape, emphasizing that the value of the landscape was not in any one individual waterfall, cliff, or tree, but in the "miles of scenery where cliffs of awful height and rocks of vast magnitude and of varied and exquisite coloring, are banked and fringed and draped and shadowed by the tender foliage of noble and lovely trees and bushes, reflected from the most placid pools, and associated with the most tranquil meadows, the most playful streams, and every variety of soft and peaceful pastoral beauty.
At the same time, he campaigned to preserve the Adirondack region in upstate New York. He was one of the founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects in In , Olmsted refused to develop a plan for Presque Isle near Marquette, Michigan , saying that it "should not be marred by the intrusion of artificial objects.
By he moved to Belmont, Massachusetts , and took up residence as a patient at the McLean Hospital , for whose grounds he had submitted a design which was never executed. He remained there until his death in The firm lasted until Many works by the Olmsted sons are mistakenly credited to Fredrick Law Olmsted today.
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For instance, the Olmsted Brothers firm did a park plan for Portland, Maine , in , creating a series of connecting parkways between existing parks and suggesting improvements to those parks. The oldest of these parks, Deering Oaks, had been designed by City Engineer William Goodwin in but is today frequently described as a Frederick Law Olmsted designed park.
Referring to Olmsted in March , Burnham said, "An artist, he paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and banks and forest covered hills; with mountain sides and ocean views. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations.
Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. A bridge, a pathway, a tree, a pasture: Olmsted designed primarily in the pastoral and picturesque styles, each to achieve a particular effect.
The pastoral style featured vast expanses of green with small lakes, trees and groves and produced a soothing, restorative effect on the viewer. The picturesque style played with light and shade to lend the landscape a sense of mystery.
Scenery was designed to enhance the sense of space: A vast expanse of greenery at the end of which lies a grove of yellow poplar; a path that winds through a bit of landscape and intersects with others, dividing the terrain into triangular islands of successive new views.
Subordination strives to use all objects and features in the service of the design and its intended effect. It can be seen in the subtle use of naturally occurring plants throughout the park. Non-native species planted for the sake of their own uniqueness defeat the purpose of design, as that very uniqueness draws attention to itself where the intention is to enable relaxation: Separation applies to areas designed in different styles and different uses enhancing safety and reducing distraction.
A key feature of Central Park is the use of sunken roadways which traverse the park and are specifically dedicated to vehicles as opposed to winding paths designated specifically for pedestrians. Wealthy passengers were let from their carriages at its south end. The carriage would then drive around to the Terrace, which overlooked the Lake and Ramble to pick them up, saving them the trouble of needing to double back on foot.
The Promenade was lined with slender elms and offered views of Sheep Meadow.
Frederick Law Olmsted - Wikipedia
Affluent New Yorkers, who rarely walked through the park, mixed with the less well-to-do, and all enjoyed an escape from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city. In the book, his personality and actions are given significant coverage. In addition, his importance in designing the fair is highlighted e. These hills had been designed and sculpted by a supposedly famous landscape engineer named Frederick Law Olmsted Senior.
The original land had been flat as a beaver tail, scraped smooth by glaciers. The hills and oaks had all been purchased, were a manufactured deception.