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The City (1939) in arquia/film archive


The City (1939), a pioneering documentary that is a statement in favor of planned urban communities.The documentary contrasts the living conditions in a modern industrial city like Pittsburgh, with the serenity of life in a rural community fashioned after the eighteenth century in New England and the concept of a model community from the point of view of an architect and an engineer, typified in the experiment in Greenbelt, Maryland and the private urban community in Radburn, New Jersey.

The scenes show us the symbols associated with each of the models represented through stories (some dramatic) of people who inhabit them, pointing to undesirable urban conditions caused by industrialization and suggesting achieving a more satisfying life through relocation of the metropolitan population in planned suburban communities. The documentary deals emotionally with the problems using photographic contrasts, comments and music.

The audiovisual work was devised by Catherine Bauer , town planner and advocate for public housing and produced by the American Institute of Planners for display at the 1939 New York World's Fair as part of the "City of Tomorrow" exhibition.

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