Right to the City #2: cool, old films about NYC transit

Still from Manfred Kircheimer’s Stations of the Elevated (1980)

For all of you who missed the first installment of Red Channel‘s impeccably curated, hard-to-find city-symphony films last week at the Brecht Forum, you get another chance to try to slake your thirst for vintage New York on film next Monday. The July 23rd screening was notable not only for the rare chance to see some of my favorite representations of urban space projected (Jay Leyda’s 1931 masterpiece A Bronx Morning is one of my favorite works of urban-themed art in any medium) but also for the improvised score provided by the Citizen’s Ontological Music Agenda. Also in attendance was Leni Schwendinger – a designer who works with light and hearts Urban Omnibus – who was kind enough to blog about what a good time we all had. (Thanks Leni!) Check back soon for a podcast of Leni sharing the League’s lectern with Henry Stoltzman to describe their project Triple Bridge Gateway, 42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The August 3rd screening, titled Bridges and Tunnels: Art and Efficiency, will begin with an RKO travelogue from 1937 about Manhattan’s waterfront (note the density of tugboats, kinda makes you long for a time when congestion wasn’t discussed exclusively in automotive terms) and will include Manfred Kircheimer’s 1980 documentary Stations of the Elevated, which conjures the urban landscape of late 1970s New York so powerfully you’ll want to grab your aerosol, bring your tag out of retirement, and bomb some top-to-bottoms. Or, you can just remind yourself of a bygone urban texture and listen to the Charles Mingus soundtrack.

See you Monday, August 3rd, 7:30 p.m., at the Brecht Forum. Speakers will include historians, filmmakers and an MTA Station Agent who works closely with the Transit Workers Union Local 100. And a big thanks to Matt Peterson of Red Channels and the good people at Brecht for putting this together.

Cassim Shepard served as the founding editor of Urban Omnibus from its inception to 2014.