New York: A Documentary Film
January 16, 2015 3:29 AM   Subscribe

 
It's crazy that these don't receive the praise that Jazz and Baseball, etc do. I know it's made by Ric instead of Ken, but I probably learned more about progress and capitalism and justice in America from these episodes than even Prohibition. It almost made me like living in New York (but not quite yet ;) ).

Something it made me wonder after finishing the series--it ends right at the brink of 9/11 and massive gentrification. One of the themes of the piece is: New York always renews itself--a new disadvantaged group always springs forward to replace those that have gone before, and either dissipated or become middle class, to infuse the city with new ideas and culture and cheap labor. But with the middle class disappearing and the poor relegated to the edges, is that cycle over in New York? Is there a final state of this city world where the rich swoop in and it become permanently a financial district in Manhattan, Brooklyn a creative playground for the wealthy, the other boroughs more and more overrun with luxury apartment complexes and gastropubs until they too become midtown? Or is there a reset button?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:00 AM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Dankjewel!
posted by humboldt32 at 4:00 AM on January 16, 2015


I got this on Netflix a few years ago, pre-streaming. One. disk. at. a. time., so it took about a month to finish. But in a strange way that pace fit the tone of the film, and kind of matched the "next week on PBS" experience.

The book is pretty great also.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:35 AM on January 16, 2015


Or is there a reset button?

I started to type some dumb joke about how there's a reset button but unfortunately it's located in southside Williamsburg but then I actually thought about it for a second and got all sad and had to stop.
posted by item at 4:40 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember watching the episode with the Robert Moses/Jane Jacobs saga (I think it's in episode 7), which was completely fascinating. I've been wanting to watch the whole thing ever since, so thanks for this!
posted by lunasol at 5:14 AM on January 16, 2015


Is there a final state of this city world where the rich swoop in and it become permanently a financial district in Manhattan, Brooklyn a creative playground for the wealthy, the other boroughs more and more overrun with luxury apartment complexes and gastropubs until they too become midtown? Or is there a reset button?

I think there will be a reset button. In history, there's always a reset button. The question is, when will the reset happen and what will it entail? Will it be relatively soon, or so long from now that nobody who currently lives in NYC would stand to benefit from it? Will it be gradual, relatively benign, or will it be some kind of catastrophe - a war, say, or an economic collapse that puts 2008 to shame - such that the current situation, bad as it is, ends up looking good in comparison?

I don't know the answer, and I don't think anyone does. But nothing lasts forever.
posted by breakin' the law at 6:00 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or is there a reset button?

Wait for the next NYC bankruptcy.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:50 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


God I have such amazing memories of this series. Definitely worth all 17+ hours.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:59 AM on January 16, 2015


The whole series is a gem. Episodes 2-4 are some of the most moving and informative television I've ever seen .....and describe the roots of the modern metropolis as both a beautiful kaleidoscope and exploitation upon exploitation.

HIGHLY recommended.
posted by lalochezia at 7:26 AM on January 16, 2015


i just started reading Gotham so this is awesome.

also, the film by ken burns about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge is waaaaaayyyy more interesting than a documentary about a bridge should be. it's absolutely fascinating. pretty sure it's on netflix.

very excited to get started on this documentary this weekend!
posted by sio42 at 7:26 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


HIGHLY recommended.

Absolutely, yes.

it ends right at the brink of 9/11 and massive gentrification

My DVD set includes an additional disk that focuses on 9/11. It starts out with the story and interview of Philippe Petit, who walked on a tightrope between the towers while they were still being built. Neat stuff.

Is there a final state of this city world where the rich swoop in and it become permanently a financial district in Manhattan, Brooklyn a creative playground for the wealthy, the other boroughs more and more overrun with luxury apartment complexes and gastropubs until they too become midtown? Or is there a reset button?

Until the world starts fighting back and stops giving the US all its massive wealth, alas no. Extremely depressing. I went to the LES last year and it was like going to the local mall.
posted by Melismata at 7:28 AM on January 16, 2015


I am a strange one who can't sleep alone in my apartment without noise (and like TV noise, not white noise machines) and I've been alone this week, so I've been watching Ken Burns (and Ken Burns like from PBS) documentaries on Netflix all week. If my partner ends up being gone longer, this will be perfect, but I look forward to watching it awake too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:36 AM on January 16, 2015


I love this series, I find myself rewatching it as background noise all the time. I've never been able to figure out why it hasn't been put on Netflix, which is really annoying. Its sort of funny to say this about a series that runs 17+ hours, but it really summarizes everything I love and hate about the city.
posted by hobgadling at 7:43 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best 17 hours I've spent, I never knew I'd come away with a passion for telling people about the Erie Canal but here we are.
posted by The Whelk at 8:07 AM on January 16, 2015


Looks great. And it's available on Amazon Prime streaming, so I've bookmarked it. Thanks!
posted by Liesl at 8:35 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


American Experience: New York, for those who have Prime.
posted by dhartung at 4:03 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older dating while autistic   |   Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments