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Posts tagged "West Side Highway"

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“Wolfen” (1981): A Cool Look Back at NYC Transportation Infrastructure

The above apocalyptic-looking still is one of many shots of the South Bronx (circa 1980) from the opening montage to my favorite, New York City-set movie "Wolfen", an often forgotten film (even among horror buffs) about shape-shifters defending their land from greedy fat-cat developers. Though not a 5 star movie, it's a very solid tale with some incredible alfresco scenes providing a reference of just how much NYC has changed in the past 30 years.

Sure there's "The French Connection", "Manhattan", and "The Warriors", but if you love transportation, I'm promising you there's more NYC livable streets nostalgia in this film then any I've seen. Let me take you thru just a few of my favorite scenes.

Very early on a very rich couple are murdered in Battery Park. It's there we meet our protagonist Dewey (right, Albert Finney) a retired detective who is assigned the case. As the police do their work in Battery Park just soak up the scenery of lower Manhattan with the WTC towers and Hudson River making numerous appearances (and yes, that's Gregory Hines, left.)

A few scenes later Finney meets his new partner along the Hudson River for hot dogs and conversation. What makes this scene so incredible? See that elevated highway in the background? That's the former West Side Elevated Highway which partially collapsed in 1973.  It's amazing how little footage of it exists anywhere; it's the only movie I know in which it appears. (Note: "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz speaks much about it in this Streetfilm.)

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Mr. Blumenauer goes to New York City to ride bikes

It's not everyday that you get to ride bikes in a big metropolis with a member of Congress, even one who loves to bicycle whenever he can.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer dropped by Transportation Alternatives' offices to take a quick excursion around mid-town with Executive Director, Paul Steely White, and Senior Policy Director, Noah Budnick. They checked out a few standard (painted) bike lanes and some of the newer (physically separated) facilities, of which the latter Mr. Blumenauer thought were superior. Along the way he offered much commentary about the state of biking and livable streets in the nation.

With a new, Congressional transportation bill due to percolate to the surface sometime in the near future, Mr. Blumenauer believes the next decade will be the one when we can finally achieve some balance for pedestrians, bikes, and livable streets.  For the sake of our planet, our health, and the green growth of our cities - cheers to that.

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San Francisco: Removal of the Embarcadero Freeway

In 1989, a 7.1 earthquake struck the Bay Area which severely damaged many of its elevated highway structures. The Embarcadero Freeway - an ugly, double-decked highway - was replaced with a grand boulevard which emphasizes access to the waterfront and provides people with transportation options like walking, mass transit, and bicycling instead of an emphasis personal vehicle use. In this 12 minute mini-doc, you'll see some of the dramatic changes and how all users benefit when planning takes a pedestrian and people-first attitude.

Just look at these BEFORE and AFTER shots!

Embarcadero 2

Embarcadero 3

Also discussed: Octavia Boulevard which replaced part of the former-Central Freeway.