Mark Your Calendars

On September 6th, at some o’clock in the evening, it is very likely that you can view a film entitled “Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City.” Here in Rochester, our local PBS station, WXXI, will carry the film at 10:00pm. I know – it’s late. But it’s worth it.

To take a look at some clips about the film, you can check this out:

I was fortunate to spend over ten years in helping this project reach the screen – doing interviews in Chicago and New York, and being interviewed in Washington by friend, colleague, and former architecture critic for the Washington Post, Ben Forgey.

Judith McBrien and her Archimedia Workshop authored and produced this terrific film. Our goal in the work was to recover Burnham’s life and work, and to reassess his role in shaping American urbanism.

Here in Rochester, two of Burnham’s colleagues, Arnold Brunner and Frederick Law Olmsted the younger, authored “A City Plan for Rochester” in 1911. Sponsored by the Rochester Civic Improvement Committee, the plan is squarely situated in the City Beautiful Movement begun by Burnham. None of the Rochester plan was constructed – their greenways are now expressways. Sigh.

Brunner and Olmsted worked with Burnham in Washington in 1900, and were good students of his urbanism.

Take a look – I hope you enjoy the film.

5 thoughts on “Mark Your Calendars

  1. David: Chicago twice, Maine, the backyard to rescue our bay window – in very bad shape, but now restored – the stone yard for our backyard project (twice), the golf course, the gardens repeatedly and endlessly, the kitchen for paint, the study for a new ceiling fan, other painting projects inside and out, the new front door, the storm window at the stair, hosting family, the backyard for barbecuing, the huge evergreens for trimming (6 hours just for the cutting phase), blah, blah, blah. It’s been busy, busy.

    In Rochester, we learn, there are two seasons: winter, and getting ready for winter. Nothing like an old house to keep you focused on the road ahead.

  2. I’d like to hear more about the Olmstead plan for Rochester. I specifically want to know if a botanical garden was ever proposed–with our weather it’s a shame that we don’t have a big botanical garden with enclosed buildings that we can visit in the winter. The conservatory in Highland Park is not enough. I’ve been to botanic gardens in Chicago, Burlington Ontario, Indianapolis and Georgia (Callaway Gardens which looks a lot like Durand Eastman Park except with flowers and places for tourists to eat and enjoy tropical flowers indoors).

  3. Yvonne, the entire third chapter of the Olmsted/Brunner plan is about parks, parkways, and landscape. The 1911 plan is available online, and I recommend that you take a look. It is downloadable as a pdf file, and makes terrific reading.

    There is no botanical garden in the plan. But there is much about parks, green space, and parkways to connect natural places of importance. Olmsted and his father were very involved in shaping our city’s landscapes, as I am sure you know, and so they both spent a good deal of time here looking at and defining our green assets. FLO Jr. knew what he was talking about when he spoke of Rochester’s landscapes.

    Olmsted wanted to connect our greatest park spaces with a series of parkways, along the lines of the “Emerald Necklace” in Boston. In the plan there is a drawing of the parkway system Olmsted imagined. It would have been really wonderful.

    And of course what we did was to build expressways in all the locations where Olmsted proposed greenways.

    So it goes.

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