This for your weekend viewing pleasure just in from Clarence Eckerson, Streetfilms, NYC:
When I first got started making NYC bike advocacy and car-free streets videos back in the late-1990s on cable TV, I didn’t know who William “Holly” Whyte was or just how much influence his work and research had on New York City. A few years later I met Fred and Ethan Kent at Project for Public Spaces. I got a copy of Whyte’s 1980 classic, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, which in its marvelously-written, straightforward style is the one book all burgeoning urbanists should start with.
Recently, I read it again. With all the developments in video technology since his day, I wondered: How might Whyte capture information and present his research in a world which is now more attuned to the importance of public space? What would he appreciate? Are his words still valid?
So I excerpted some of my favorite passages from the book and tried to match it up with modern footage I’ve shot from all over the world while making Streetfilms. I hope he would feel honored and that it helps his research find a new audience.
Clarence Eckerson, Jr. is a Brooklyn-based videographer and the creator of BikeTV and Streetfilms.org. He has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He’s never had a driver’s license and says he never will.
Clarence Eckerson, Jr. (born 1967) # # #
Also you may wish to have a look at a full hour film on Whyte’s thoughts and techniques, produced by Mr. Whyte with the support of the Municipal Art Soceity of New York, together with the Street Life Project, and happily now available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6G4B9Z27yA. A brief biography of Mr. Whyte is available from Project for Public Spaces at http://www.pps.org/reference/wwhyte/
The core of Whyte’s work was predicated on the years he spent directly observing human beings, and he authored several texts about urban planning and design and human behavior in various urban spaces. All told, Whyte walked the city streets for more than 16 years. As unobtrusively as possible, he watched people and used time-lapse photography to chart the meanderings of pedestrians. What emerged through his intuitive analysis is an extremely human, often amusing view of what is staggeringly obvious about people’s behavior in public spaces, but seemingly invisible to the inobservant.
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton