The City (1939)

by vytasvulgaris

Amazing documentary proposed to us by Rasa. Even too sincere for a propaganda film celebrating new suburban (garden) cities.

“Have we vision, have we courage? Shall we build, and rebuild, our cities, clean again, close to the earth and open to the sky? … Order has come. Order and life together. We’ve got the skill – we’ve found the way. We built the cities. All that we know about machines and soils and raw materials and human ways of living is waiting. We can reproduce the pattern and better it a thousand times. It’s here! The new city. Ready to serve a better age. You and your children, the choice is yours.”

“The City (1939) is a pioneering short documentary film which attempts to contrast the evils of the industrialized city with the idyllic conditions one finds in small-town America. The film was the idea of Catherine Bauer.  It was produced for the 1939 New York World’s Fair as part of the “City of Tomorrow” exhibit. Bauer’s original idea was to commission a full-scale mini neighborhood on a 4.0 ha site to showcase innovative housing design and community planning, but when the plan was dropped for lack of time and resources, Bauer came up with the idea of the film ” ( “Urban planning legend Lewis Mumford, together with Aaron Copland (composer of a personal ‘imaginary cities’ favourite, Quiet City) and photographer Ralph Steinerjoined forces in 1939 to construct an idealistic film about the potential for ‘new cities’ to arise from the mire that America’s cities were then perceived to be descending into” ( ”

” The film concentrates primarily on family life, and more specifically on the raising of children. It opens with a look back at pre-industrial America, moving quickly into the modern city. The chaotic industrial and commercial cities shown in the film subsequently give way to the idyillic “new city” of Greenbelt, Maryland. Constructed as a New Deal project, Greenbelt highlights the importance of recreation in the proper upbringing of children, as well as in the making of a stable family life” (