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Friday, January 12, 2007


The Penalties of Urban Living!

Cities - How They Grow (1952)
Encyclopedia Britannica Films

Bid on the complete, original 16mm print on eBay through 1/19/07!

Well. For all you urbanites forced to shoulder the heavy burden of taxes, education, city government, noise-air-and-water pollution, traffic, claustrophobic housing, tourists, psychotic taxi drivers who look (and behave) uncannily like clones of a young Robert De Niro, and overall daily mayhem, this film is for you!

But "with proper planning," the narrator pipes hopefully, someday we'll be able to have our cake and eat it too (all math withstanding). Or something like that.... What they didn't know then was that the very title of this film was an unintentional euphemism for the phenomenon we now understand as urban sprawl.

This rare EB print was one of several post-war film efforts to massage the urbanite masses (those who didn't join the suburban exodus that served as incubator to the baby-boom) into a more hopeful, optimistic mental space (albeit overpriced and overcrowded). "And this too," we can imagine our narrator adding, "shall pass...."

These cities have really grown since they filmed this footage!

Just think of all the new "problems and challenges" that our modern cities face... I like watching these to get a different perspective.
Yep. Times, they are a changin', and we are the movers and the shakers that make the times change! The challenges we face in being the motivators and instigators of change, however, are nearly always political ones. I find it important to revisit where we once were (as in fifty years ago) in order to better define realistic goals for urban development and planning. Having taken an active role in urban planning initiatives, I've discovered that many professionals out there unfortunately do not research the socio-economic and political history of development initiatives (this phenomenon, though, seems to transcend profession)....
It is really interesting to me how entire societies can change so drastically in such a relatively short time. It is impossible to tell if society changes the geography of an area or if the geography changes society.
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