Jens Jensen: The Living Green

About This Episode

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, who rose from immigrant street sweeper in the 1880s, became the “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, Jens 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. Narrated by Jens Jensen’s great-granddaughter, Jensen Wheeler Wolfe, the documentary is illustrated with archival footage, photos and interviews, including with Jensen himself, which trace his remarkable career and lasting influence as a man ahead of his time. Half a century after his death, Jens Jensen is now hailed as a pioneer of sustainable design, an early champion of native species, and an unsung American hero.