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Classic Documentary on Public Space Now Available Online

The pioneering 'Social Life of Small Urban Spaces' explores public plazas and their uses
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Probably one of the most well-regarded films about urban planning is now available online in its entirety. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, a 1979 documentary by William H.  “Holly” Whyte, explores the successes and failures of public spaces in New York City. It was made as part of a research effort spearheaded by The Street Life Project in conjunction with the Municipal Art Society of New York.

Whyte had contributed to the city’s comprehensive plan in 1969, and became interested in how the city governed public space usage as a result. Through the film and an accompanying book, Whyte and his team chose a variety of public spaces like plazas, streetscapes, playgrounds, even entire neighborhoods like Harlem, and set about observing and recording how and why people use them: