John Massengale and I are standing in the middle of 1st Avenue at East 4th Street, in New York’s East Village, and he does not like the feng shui. He points to the thick, white lines in the roadway, directing drivers toward a left turn. “Automobile-scale striping,” he notes. “It’s telling you: ‘This is not a place for you.’”
Part instruction manual, part history, part manifesto, the book argues that it is the street, more than anything, that shapes the city. In traveling to cities around the world and interviewing residents, pedestrians and businesspeople, Dover and Massengale found a remarkable degree of agreement about which streets are nice and which are not. “If there is so much consensus on what makes a good street,” they ask, “then why are we still building so many bad and ugly ones?”
These two videos are a fascinating study in the evolution of King Car in New York City. Although the second video is joking, it shows how much control of the street had shifted from the pedestrian to the car by 1928. The first movie, shot from a New York cable car rolling down Broadway about 20 years earlier, shows how comfortably pedestrians crossed the street whenever and wherever they wanted. Organized Motodrdom hadn’t yet brought us jaywalking and Transportation Corridors.