Photos From The Streetfilms Archives: Celebrating Ten Years of Activism (Part 1: 2005-2010)
With our big 10th anniversary StreetsBall coming up Monday, November 14th, I thought it would be good to dip into my personal photo vault and look thru 1000s of snapshots over the years and bring you some rare behind-the-scenes highlights. Some of these photos haven't been seen in 5 or 10 years - and very few published.
Transportation Alternatives Bike Rides: Back in the early part of our work, in an effort to get more people on bikes, we often covered many of T.A.'s rides. Here is me with Paul Steely White, Executive Director in 2005 the day before the Tour de Brooklyn rallying volunteers. The next day, I documented the ride wearing quite a exotic costume and even posed with Marty Markowitz (note: this is well before he and others went apeshit on the Prospect Park West protected bike lane.)
Park(ing) Day: In 2006, I was in San Francisco to document REBAR's awesome yearly event which reimagined parking spaces as public spaces to rest, relax, play music, or whatever. This idea inspired cities across the United States and the world to not only take back their streets for a day, but to find places where they could be made permanent and the then a process to make parklets was wildly successful.
Pedestrian & Bike Advocacy: Transportation Alternatives started holding many rallies and actions, specifically at City Hall to attempt to get the city's leaders to pay attention. They started becoming masters of the visual, like this one from March 2007.
Intersection Repair: In the Summer of 2007, I got to travel to Portland, Oregon, a place I had been frequenting much due to their bike infrastructure which was easily the best in the United States at that time. I was there for a weekend of the Village Building Convergence where neighborhoods took back their streets by painting intersections with beautiful street murals meant to help slow traffic but also to create natural gathering places among communities to hold parties, weddings and special events!
Bogotá's Ciclovia: In the Fall of 2007, I ventured with Streetsblog Editor-in-Chief Aaron Naparstek, T.A's Karla Quintero and Project for Public Space's Ethan Kent to witness this supreme open streets event which closed off the city to cars every Sunday morning. The films gathered from this trip (also including Bus Rapid Transit) essentially were the big ones that eventually made Streetfilms a world name. We got to meet former Mayor Enrique Peñalosa on the trip and were led around by his indefatigable brother Gil Peñalosa, both famous for their many appearances on Streetfilms over the years.
Janette Sadik-Khan: At this point NYC Dept. of Transportation had a new Commissioner, the now legendary Janette Sadik-Khan! And as we all know, she was ready to bring it to New York City's streets! Here she is early in her campaign at T.A.'s Tour de Bronx with Jon Orcutt who as her Policy Director would become instrumental in helping implement many of the eclectic revolutionary ideas we all had been seeing emerge from around the world! Below is a shot of me on that same ride grabbing a solitary moment to ride on the closed down Sheridan Expressway.
Dramatic Change at 14th Street: Janette went right to work. The following six photos show the dramatic before, interim and after progression of a pedestrian plaza on 14th Street. (Don't worry I have video too.)
Summer Streets 2008: Janette also implemented Bogota's Ciclovia under the branded "Summer Streets" a series of three Saturdays in August where New Yorkers get to experience Park Avenue without cars. It was a very exciting first event for me. My mom got to meet Janette (below) and in the next photo Gil Peñalosa & Janette talked about how wonderful the event was going. (And that's my future wife Fátima standing between them!)
Mark Gorton: Of course the bulk of this documentation was only possible with the support of Mark Gorton, the man behind the drive and resources to help not only awaken the city to the transportation crisis it was enmeshed in but to also tell its citizens a better, more livable city was possible. "If you just listened to us!" (At least that is what I think he said while I interviewed him here.) In the first few years, Mark and I would go out and walk around NYC's worst places and just document the most deplorable things that human beings on foot or bike would have to navigate. It was fun. Mark was also a fixture at many of Transportation Alternatives's events, here on the Tour de Bronx with two of his children.
Steadily Expanding: The Streetfilms, Streetsblog and Open Planning Project Crews continually expanded throughout the period from 2007 thru 2010. Streetfilms added two new great media makers (gosh I still miss them everyday) Elizabeth Press & Robin Urban Smith. Below that you'll see Kim Wiley-Schwartz (now at NYC DOT) headed up the Livable Streets Education with Rebecca Jacobs. Photo three has moi with Nick Grossman & Carly Clark who were with us from inception (yo, that's Lily Bernheimer behind me) from our trip to present at the World Car-Free Conference in Portland in 2008. And the last photo is one of many assembled crew-age from many orgs to staff up NYC Streets Renaissance which continued to prosper and hold public events throughout this era.
Needing More Space: We also moved into a new office at Green Desk in Brooklyn. There's Streetsblog's Mr. Naparstek (and I think his size 16 shoes) putting his feet up and Robin Smith bringing us the keys on opening day!
Walk 21 & Other Conferences: Because NYC was attracting the eyes of the world, we were getting lots of livable city and advocacy conferences holding their big shows in Manhattan to sample the work of Mayor Bloomberg, Janette Sadik-Khan and the NYC DOT. Walk 21 came in 2009 and as you can see I was just as happy as could be surrounded by all my heroes in one place. Here with the Penalosa brothers and Copenhagen's Jan Gehl.
"The Search for the Zozo": Well we made this fantastic mockumentary with a real Henson muppet that Mark Gorton owns that attempted to teach us all about transportation. For some reason this fun Streetfilm experimentation just never really caught fire. We really thought we had a big hit on our hands though it still remains one of those videos people in the NYC advocacy scene still reference. Here's the Zozo with Janette at a press conference for Summer Streets as well a shot of me in action doing my ride-a-bike-while-filming action shooting (damn, that was a big, heavy camera!)
And here I am with a few Zozo "special guest stars". First running in to Aaron Naparstek out on the streets of Park Slope where most of Zozo was filmed and later hanging out with Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon, that many of you know played our famous A.U.T.O. lobbyist "Veronica Moss", who saw her first appearance during the Zozo film!
Pedestrianizing Broadway thru Times Square: 2009 was also the year of Janette's boldest move: fully pedestrianizing Times Square. Firstly, with lawn chairs that were highly panned by the press, but much loved by people. It was hard to find a vacant one. I had to mark the occasion on opening day by grabbing a photo with the Naked Cowboy!
I think by 2010 we were both stunned by the fast progress NYC had made. But equally determined that it was only a fraction of what was needed. But there was a glimmer of hope: New York City could be made much more fantastic. The photo below probably shows the biggest gathering ever for the entire Livable Streets crew in one place, and all of us wearing some fancy duds!