Jens Jensen The Living Green profiles the unsung pioneering landscape architect who became one of America's most influential urban designers and early conservationists, shaping the Midwest’s physical and cultural landscape in an enduring way.
Danish born Jensen rose from immigrant street sweeper in the 1880’s to “dean of American landscape architects”, as The New York Times called him upon his death in 1951.
When Jensen arrived in Chicago in 1885, it was one of the fastest growing cities in human history, and one of the least livable, especially for the working poor. Inspired by the Midwest prairie and plains, Jensen believed that urban dwellers needed the beauty of nature in their lives and “green space to survive”, and he found creative ways to bring it to them.
Jensen revered the region’s indigenous scenery and native plants, creating the “Prairie style" of landscape architecture, and leading a movement to conserve threatened natural areas. He created Columbus Park on the western edge of Chicago, now a national historic landmark, as well as over 600 parks and gardens throughout the Midwest and other regions.
As a devout conservationist, Jensen led opposition to Andrew Carnegie and JP Morgan’s industrialization of the Indiana shoreline, a battle that lasted 50 years before becoming the Indiana Dunes National Park.
Jens Jensen The Living Green is illustrated with archival footage, photos and interviews, including with Jensen himself, that trace his remarkable rise, career, and lasting influence as a man ahead of his time.
Half a century after his death, Jensen is now hailed as a pioneer of sustainable design, an early champion of native species, and an unsung American hero.