PBS Documentary On City Planning In New York

PBS is featuring an outstanding documentary series discussing New York City and the history of planning.
October 2, 2001, 1pm PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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The most recent show was the sixth in a seven-part series on the city, and focused on the late 1800's to 1940's. The show was particularly detailed in its discussion of Robert Moses,and his "contribution" to the American landscape; the freeway. Theremarks were highly critical of his destruction ofNYC/streets/neighborhoods built for people as he worked to create "flow"for cars. The program discussed in detail Moses' federally-subsidized removal ofthe copious surface rail that served NYC at the turn of the centuryshowing movie clips of same. A number of researchers interviewed forthe story discussed Moses' knowledge back in the 1930's of the "trafficgenerating" capacity of highways. he knew that the more highways hebuilt, the more congestion it would create, requiring more huge publicworks projects for him to direct. Moses was decried as atraffic-flow-loving megalomaniac who avoided 'the public' and hatedpeople. There was some discussion of racial redlining by federal lenders, andthe effect it had in segregating what had been a fairly integrated cityinto racially divided neighborhoods. There was an explanation for thelong-term demise of Harlem.Most interesting was the discussion of the 1939 Worlds Fair in NYC.which offered many glimpses at the future we now endure. The producersspent about 3 minutes discussing General Motor's "Futurama", thesprawling diorama of a pristine American Landscape laced with smoothlyflowing highways and "Tower in the Park" offices. One columnist at thetime called "Futurama" a blatant market move by GM to trick the Americanpublic into building the expensive infrastructure that would support anddemand GM products.

Thanks to G. Matthew Bulley

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Published on Tuesday, October 2, 2001 in PBS
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