New York: A Documentary Film

A quick entertainment note. I just finished the 17 1/2 hour epic New York documentary by Ric Burns. (I watched it streaming via Amazon Prime.) It’s first seven episodes were produced in 1999 and aired in 2001, with an eighth episode produced in 2003 chronicling the history of the Twin Towers. Watching that eighth episode in not a happy way to spend a Friday night, or any three hours, for that matter. Some of the video footage zooms in much closer than what you may have seen before.

Anyway, the first seven episodes cover 1605 to approximately 1980 (it zips through the last couple of decades of the 20th century.) It’s fascinating. So, I highly recommend it, if you don’t mind a 1000-minute documentary that occasionally stops to linger on a pivotal event for 20-30 minutes at a time. And most of the story of New York is pretty bleak. Burns doesn’t delve into topics of leisure. You want see or hear anything about theater or sports or television. Up not for attempting a full-scale review–I never am, because I just don’t write such things very well.

Let me see if I can quickly rattle off a few of topics that I especially fascinated me:
– The original topography of Manhattan
– The destruction of most of what was Manhattan during the Revolutionary War
– The exponential population growth in the second half of the 19th century
– The explosion of skyscraper building in the first half of the 20th century
– The almost-maniacal building of highways, bridges, and residential “urban renewal” projects by the all-powerful Robert Moses
– Early photos from the mid-19th-century
– Early Edison Kinetoscope video from the late-19th-century (I suppose those would be “motion” pictures)

I’m done. It’s 1:23 AM. I spent 17 1/2 hours doing something, so I figured I should record it. Ironically, I also just finished a very famous book that takes place in New York City. Not sure if I will give that a blurb in here or not.


4 thoughts on “New York: A Documentary Film

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