Thursday, August 03, 2017

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

It was a lazy morning getting up this morning, as the first film I had booked didn't start until 10:30am.  This was another interesting documentry.  As urban populations increase by one million people a week, we are faced with changing our cities to fit everyone in.  How will we house and transport the increases in population.

This movie focuses on New York, that after WWII goes through immense change as urbanization takes hold.  Slum tenement buildings are pulled down and large scale housing projects go up in their place, and many historical districts are threatened to be pulled down to make space for motorways. On one hand this modernization is spear headed by power broker and developer Robert Moses, who with his posse of middle aged men seeks to change the face of the city.  With little opposition and not much discussion, his vision is not often challenged.

Jane Jacobs, a writer does offer up a different vision.  She questions the loss of eyes on the street that comes from having cafes and shops at street level, and with low windows and stoops there were places to talk and gather and spots for children to play safely.  She wonders why the people that live in the city aren't being asked what they want in new buildings and does the new developments actually serve the purpose they are made for or are they just hiding the poor people away on the city verges?

As well as being a compelling story that tells a story from the sixties, it still resonates today as our own cities swell and struggle to cope with everyone moving in.  I did enjoy looking at the historical images of New York - man that is one busy city. 4/5

1 comment:

John Bellen said...

The people most affected by anything never have a voice because they are the most powerless.