London's Unfinished Ringways
March 14, 2011 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Unfinished London's long awaited second episode is a wonderful DIY documentary about London's failed 'Ringways' road-building project, made and presented by Jay Foreman. The first episode, about a branch of London's underground that was never built, is also excellent (and much more fun that you might expect). [Previously.]
posted by hot soup girl (22 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

Oooh I love this sort of thing. Cool!
posted by everichon at 12:10 PM on March 14, 2011

Love the Abercrombie gag.
posted by rh at 12:17 PM on March 14, 2011

I guess Douglas Adams was wrong: you don't have to build bypasses.
posted by dry white toast at 12:21 PM on March 14, 2011

"the quickest way to get from, say, hampstead to highbury is to go all the way down to camden town, though the complicated one way system all the way back up to holloway and down holloway road, which takes ages..." etc.

The quickest way to go from Hampstead to Highbury is to take the northern line to Kings Cross and then the victoria line to Highbury and Islington. Unless you're just desperate to drive your expensive polluting car.
posted by silence at 12:39 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

A Trip Within The Beltway is a fantastic blog that contains a number of articles about abandoned freeway projects in the Washington, DC area (there are many, and almost all were cancelled in favor of the Metrorail system).

Of course, the guy who writes the blog remains the only person on the planet who still wants the beltway-within-a-beltway-within-a-beltway system to be built. However, once you dig past that, there's some great historical information in there about a much-neglected bit of modern history.

(And, yes. The really did want to build 3 concentric beltways at one point. Lately, Virginia's been quietly introducing bits of stealth legislation to get road "upgrade" projects underway that would effectively connect to serve as a portion of the presently-unbuilt "outer" beltway, linking a series of growing exurban communities (whose residents make a daily 60+ mile trek into DC). Virginia's hyper-conservative governor also just funded a $1.5bn roads bill primarily consisting of a new freeway from Richmond to Petersburg, and is beginning to force unwanted road capacity expansions and HOT lanes onto the residents of Arlington, despite near-unanimous local opposition to the projects.)
posted by schmod at 12:50 PM on March 14, 2011

more constructively, I've often thought about doing some work about the point he makes at the end - the way that huge roads like motorways or LA's freeways rip through the centre of communities, creating impermeable membranes between islands of people. It must be weird to suddenly find you're a couple of kilometres walk from your neighbour or your local shop, even though they may only be a hundred metres away, and I wonder what effect this has on the social fabric of the city. Is there much existing literature on this subject?
posted by silence at 12:52 PM on March 14, 2011

silence - check out Jane Jacobs - The Death and Life of Great American Cities
posted by dubold at 12:56 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have yet to actually watch the video (boo work), but the Trip Within The Beltway reminds me of this map I see pop up about Portland all of the time. Red freeways were built and exist. Green ones were never built.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:12 PM on March 14, 2011

I love the combination of truly interesting history and development wonkishness, and then the gross-out humor and swearing. LOL barfing Fatcher.
posted by everichon at 1:28 PM on March 14, 2011

Great post, thanks!

I definitely think the chaotic, car unfriendly nature of London is a net positive.
posted by panaceanot at 2:07 PM on March 14, 2011

Bad timecode in the first YouTube link? Here's the corrected link which lets you get to watch from the beginning.
posted by hippybear at 2:07 PM on March 14, 2011

I remember seeing the first episode when it was posted here. I'm amazed that an episode 2 actually came out -- it's only been, what? 15 months? But still, great. I love his style, I love his subject matter, and this kind of thing is really interesting to me.

He's kind of like the James Burke of London city planning history.
posted by hippybear at 2:20 PM on March 14, 2011

Agreed, excellent. Someone should pay him money to do this.

(Incidentally, there is a direct overground train from Hampstead to Highbury)
posted by greytape at 3:27 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dear MetaFilter, this is why I love you.
posted by heatherann at 4:10 PM on March 14, 2011

You're right, hippybear, I borked the link; thanks for posting the correct one sans timecode. I've emailed the mods to fix the one up top. Also, this is my first ever FPP after eight years of MeFi membership + one year of lurking—and I screw up the link! Goddamnit.
posted by hot soup girl at 4:59 PM on March 14, 2011

This was good but not as good as the first one, I don't think. The gags not involving the narrator directly were pretty forced and flat, I think.
posted by maxwelton at 5:49 PM on March 14, 2011

The first one didn't cover the other half of the Northern Heights project, which was to have been another spur of the Northern Line going from Finchley Park via Stroud Green, Crouch End, Highgate High Level, Cranley Gardens and Muswell Hill to Ally Pally. They'd finished the stations - almost - and had almost got to the stage of electrifying the line when the plug was pulled. It was so nearly complete that nobody has ever really explained why so much investment was written off so close to the finish.

Highgate High Level still exists as a dead station on top of Highgate underground - as part of that, they were going to put in escalators. They put in one (going up, which is the right way as anyone who hangs off the Archway Road can testify) but ran out of money so the other was never built.

As a result, Crouch End in particular has a peculiar and pleasant character - almost a village feel - by being part of North London that elsewhere is very tube-centric. Bob Dylan lived there. He wouldn't have, had the Northern Heights been completed.
posted by Devonian at 7:04 PM on March 14, 2011

I would take Hampstead North Circular by-pass via Banks-brook Lane, transfer to Camden Parkway and re-jion at Ilse de la Cite for Mornington Crescent
posted by Plutocratte at 9:22 PM on March 14, 2011

I love these vids. You can live in London your whole life and still find so many interesting bits of recent local history. I hope more gets made!
posted by joboe at 1:37 AM on March 15, 2011

That was great (as was his previous)... though I'm another for most of the gags not quite working the interesting factual stuff more than made up for it.

Probably a bit to London-centric for the current climate of getting a commission on BBC4... but with a bit of tweaking it would fit right into a local programming slot.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:15 AM on March 15, 2011

I loved these videos, thank you for posting them. the northern line has confused me for ages. now if they only could solve the a/c issues...
posted by krautland at 6:17 AM on March 16, 2011

Crouch End, eh?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:06 AM on March 19, 2011

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