Flashback: The Mother of All Streetfilms

Hey SF, Aaron is out with a nasty bug today, so to keep your content craving sated I thought I’d share this proto-Streetfilm from 2004, which Clarence Eckerson recently unearthed for a museum exhibit about the history of NYC activism. It’s about the campaign to get cars out of Manhattan’s Central Park. Anyone who lives in a city where cars regularly invade the flagship park can probably relate.

We may never see Clarence work in longform video again, at least until his dream project materializes — a film about the decline of the paperboy. In the meantime, enjoy!

This just in: Clarence and John Hamilton are in the early stages of putting together a Streetfilm on the case for a car-free Golden Gate Park. Stay tuned.

  • Davistrain

    A film about the decline of the paperboy?  That caught my attention, because my daughters were “papergirls” in the LA suburb of Duarte back around 1973-74.  They had a route that they delivered on bicycles, trading off between the hilly and flatland portions.  Only if it was raining “cats & dogs” would I fire up my Ford truck and give them a lift on
     their daily rounds.  It’s no surprise that they’ve gone on to successful lives after learning “work ethic” the hard way.  I’m not sure when bicycle newspaper delivery disappeared, but they had to have been among the last of their kind.

  • Great film. Illustrates well that cars are the cigarettes of the twenty-first century.  (And just as with cigarettes there is a long hard public health campaign ahead.) A little depressing that the film has become a *museum exhibit* before the hoped for policy goal is attained, but so it goes. Given how many people don’t own cars in Manhattan I can see why people feel disgruntled that cars are allowed to blight such a disproportional share of public space.

  • Anonymous

    So great to see this. I’ve been saying the same about GGP since I moved here: cars own the entire damn city, so can’t we just have *one* place without their pollution, noise, aggression, and danger? This just seems like a no-brainer. There shouldn’t even be cars at all in the park, but if there are going to be cars, it should only be for those going through the park. There should be only a single road that is a loop with only one way in and one way out. Without any thoroughfares (well, excepting Park Presidio, but we’re not changing that), the traffic will drop massively. We should at least be doing that. We can tear all the asphalt out of the other roads that aren’t the loop and repave them (or turn some into dirt paths) but at 1/3 of their current size and just for pedestrian and bike paths, with the remaining 2/3 turned into greenery.

    In the end, I just don’t understand why we can’t have *one* place without cars utterly dominating and bringing their danger, noise, and pollution into what is supposed to be a place to recreate, relax, and otherwise experience a little nature.

  •  There are no smart street racers, and blocking side streets is not legal either.

  • Anonymous

    What makes me sad is that I feel that Seattle has two flagship parks (Discovery Park and the Washington Park Arboretum). One has little transit access and it’s a horrible bike ride and the other basically has a highway onramp running through the entire thing. Car-free both would be amazing. It will never happen for us though.

    GG Park has a chance of nixing cars. Good luck.


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