The Best Planned City in America

Start Date
End Date
Joseph Ellicott’s radial street plan of 1804 laid the groundwork for neighborhoods and commercial corridors that left a lasting impact on the City of Buffalo. When Frederick Law Olmsted came to Buffalo, his vision of a city within a park created an equally meaningful impact on the built environment. The grand parks Olmsted designed and the parkways that linked them are cherished to this day. Unfortunately, highway intrusions and urban planning blunders beginning in the mid-20th century marred Olmsted’s original vision for the Queen City.

The Olmsted Legacy & Highways field session will illustrate the history of Olmsted’s vision for Buffalo, a tour of his landscapes and ongoing conservation efforts, and an evaluation of planning decisions that destroyed parts of this parkway system. The second half of this session will be a panel discussion with Justin Booth, Executive Director of GoBike Buffalo, Karen Stanley Fleming, Executive Director of Restore Our Community Coalition, and a representative from NYS Parks to shed light on a hopeful future as discussions of restoration and rebuilding are on the horizon.
Buffalo, NY
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Historic Preservation
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
Identify the modifications the mid 20th Century highway system had on the parks, parkways and communities of Buffalo and WNY.

Evaluate the impacts the mid 20th Century highway system had on the parks, parkways, infrastructure and communities of Buffalo and WNY.

Explore the 1870 park and parkway system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and inspect firsthand the impacts of the highway system on these historic parks.

Analyze efforts made in advocating for the removal of highways and evaluate success stories in highway removal.
Brian Dold
Website Registration
Course Codes
Association for Preservation Technology International

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