“The Case for a Car-Free Central Park” (A 2004 Flashback)

Though it's sad we still allow cars to drive through NYC's Central & Prospect Parks, there've been numerous victories over the years as advocates have nibbled away hours cars have been allowed in our parks.

Flashback to 2004:  there had been little to get excited about in nearly ten years on the car-free Central Park movement. Looking for a way to gain momentum and take advantage of a 100,000 signature campaign in progress, Transportation Alternatives (T.A.) hired me to produce a mini film called, "The Case for a Car-Free Central Park", which featured interviews with many prominent New Yorkers like Columbia Professor Ken Jackson and author Robert Brandes Gratz amongst dozens of everyday parkgoers testifying about how they felt about the issue of cars in the Park.

The film was the centerpiece of a T.A.rally attended by nearly 700 people.  The crowd reaction was dramatic and enthusiastic.  Just a few weeks after the rally, the city took substantial action.  From T.A.s website which features a great chronology of Car-Free Central Park:

2004:  Speed limit on the loop drive reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph. West 90th and East 102nd Street entrances and exits closed to cars. West 77th and East 90th entrances closed to cars. West 72nd street slip-ramp closed to cars. People reclaim overnight and early mornings in the park. Cars get to enter 7 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 7 pm. HOV 2+ rule on West drive during morning rush hours.

Although I had been promoting bicycle issues on my cable access show bikeTV since 1999, in many ways this was the first major activism victory in NYC transportation where film played a large role.  And a reminder: YouTube didn't get started until 2005, that makes it all the more impressive.

Thus, it's an absolute honor that "The Case for a Car-Free Central Park" was selected as a featured element at the Museum of the City of New York's upcoming exhibition "Activist New York".  Beginning May 4th, the program examines social activism from the 17th Century right up to the present. We're glad the curators realized the significance of this video in New York's history.

Make sure you go check out what surely should be an excellent exhibit.  And for now if you want to watch the entire 20 minute film, you can right here, for the first time ever available on Streetfilms!