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The Best Planned City in the World: Frank Kowsky Looks at the Rise of the Revolutionary Buffalo Park System

by SAH News | Jun 18, 2013

Its hard to imagine the world’s major cities without their public parks. The greatest examples, such as London's Hyde Park, the Tuileries Garden in Paris, and Central Park in New York City, are defining aspects of the urban experience.

It wasn'€™t always so, as Francis R. Kowsky shows in his new history, The Best Planned City in the World. Until the 1850s, the concept of a "pastoral environment in the heart of the city available to all classes of society"€ simply didn'€™t exist. The movement for healthy verdant spaces open to all citizens required visionary men. In 1868 two of them, Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, set their sights on Buffalo, New York. Their goal: to create nothing less than the most extensive park system in the world.

The Queen City of the Lakes has seen better days. But its park system, built during the city’s economic and cultural ascendancy, is still recognized for its magnificent innovations in the art of urban planning and landscape design. "€œProfessor Kowsky does a wonderful job of illuminating the thinking of the major players in the saga," says Robin Karson executive director of The Library of American Landscape History (LALH), the foremost publisher in the field of American landscape history. The Best Planned City in the World is the first book in the LALH Designing the American Park series, written by leading historians in the field. "Scholarship is important in preserving our natural landscapes," adds Karson. "When people understand the careful planning that went into the parks they'€™re getting to enjoy today, they tend to value them more and take better care of them."

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