Showcasing what we still have reminds us what we tore out for shorter commute times


The 8 Olmsted Buffalo Park System Circles from scottbalzer on Vimeo.

Scott Balzer has been busy this quarantine period. Usually a video editor for the Bills and Sabres, the sports-free life has him exploring all angles of the city and posting to his social channels for us to feast our eyes upon. This particular piece caught our eye for its clever edits that juxtaposed the shapes of our city’s famed parkways and circles together in an entirely new perspective, and with video rather than just photos of each. The first feeling that comes to mind is indeed pride in our city, but it’s followed by sadness. Sadness that this is what our city’s connected parkway system used to look like, and we let cars destroy it.

Can you imagine just how spectacular it used to be to travel around in our city? But hey, people wanna move out to the farmlands of Clarence and still get downtown in 20 minutes so we gotta tear these things up and ask black and brown communities and poor communities to breathe in the exhaust for them.

Balzer’s work here has the emotional pull to keep us from ever making a mistake like that again, and encourage us to find a way to rebuild what we’ve destroyed. We chatted with him about how he put all of this together:

Rise: What inspired you to create it?

Balzer: Besides Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”…the advent of drone photography and videography has really allowed us to see
things from a whole other vantage point. I had taken some drone photos from above of all 8 circles a few years back and always loved
the compositions you can create. I’ve also collected hours of drone footage over the years that have merely been sitting on hard drives.
So early in the pandemic and more time at home, I decided to finally go through the hours of drone footage & photos I have to hopefully
create some other concept I’ve been putting off. However, with the weather being as nice as it has the last few months of course I wanted
to be outside but also stay creative. And so throughout parts of May, June and July I managed to make my way back to all 8 Olmsted
circle locations and document their beauty via drone shooting both photographs as well as video since everything looked so lush and green.
And in Buffalo, documenting the fantastic summers we have here is kind of a pride thing just to show the rest of the world it’s not just snow.

Rise: How long did it take you to capture it all?

Balzer: I’d say a total of about 4 to 5 weeks to fully shoot all the footage at all 8 locations and edit it down to the 1:25 run time. I know I could of easily
gone to all 8 locations in a day but I wanted to take my time, make sure the lighting was right and spread out the time I spent outdoors at each
of these amazing locations.

Rise: What do you hope the audience takes from it?

Balzer: I hope that viewers can be amazed at what these 8 circles created by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux nearly 150 years ago look like
from the bird eye view of drone videography & photography. It’s truly amazing that these circles were designed so perfectly the way they were without the ability
at all to see them from above way back in the 1870’s. And to use today’s technology to see beauty that’s been hiding in plain sight all these years is fun to be a part of.

I also hope viewers appreciate the beauty of these circles even more after having seen the video and not simply take them for granted. They are cared
for by the Olmsted Buffalo Park System and they do such a fantastic job throughout all four seasons maintaining and doing the upkeep on these
pieces of land that the public moves about on a daily basis.

Finally, I’d love to see more consideration into the restoring of Olmsted’s vision and the possibility of bringing the parks and parkways back to the people of Buffalo.
I’ve heard and seen what specifically Humboldt Parkway was and would love to see in my lifetime it possibly be restored at least in some capacity.

Thanks for the showcase, Scott. Now get out and ride your bike around what we have left, fall deeply in love with it, too.

Rise content is presented by Daemen College.