This review from The New York Times focuses on the role of designers in creating public spaces.
"More than a century after his death in 1903, the urban landscapes he created, first and most famous among them Central Park, are still giving vast, diverse populations a connection to nature amid a sea of concrete. "Olmsted and America's Urban Parks," a documentary by Rebecca Messner showing Wednesday on PBS, helps you appreciate just how visionary Olmsted and his undercredited partner in Central Park and other projects, Calvert Vaux, were at a time when the idea that cities need parks was not firmly established.
Ms. Messner's documentary is nothing fancy, but the life it chronicles certainly was, a blend of genius, determination and occasional happenstance. As the film notes, Olmsted might never have landed the Central Park job had a more prominent landscape designer, Andrew Jackson Downing, not been killed when the steamship Henry Clay burned on the Hudson River in 1852. But Olmsted, though his early career was as a journalist, found himself in the right place at the right time, and his and Vaux's design for the park was chosen in 1858. "