Saturday, May 4, 2013

The "Philadelphia Story" of 1958 - Heavy on Cars, Not Bikes

Time to see what the newly available Digital Public Library of America has about bicycles.

They have some relatively new video materials from the National Archives, such as this move, The Philadelphia Story, that is credited to the State Department but was probably done for the then-United States Information Agency to show what a modern American city of 1958 was like. "Cycling" is given as a subject term for this item.

Here is the brief record

Creator: Department of State. Office of the Secretary. (09/1789 -)
Created Date: 1958
Provider: National Archives and Records Administration
Owning Institution: National Archives at College Park - Motion Pictures

Description: Men work in a plant and load cartons aboard a truck, automobiles fill the plant's parking lot, men service cars at gas stations, and girls bicycle along suburban streets. Shows a General Electric plant and its terracing, typical workers homes, modern office buildings, an American Trust Company office, a drive-in bank, and suburban shopping centers.

A parking lot for a company early in the film

A factory - main feature seems to be the parking

Drive-up banking as a sign of progress - in 1958

Busy gas station, of course

Gas only 33 1/3 cents a gallon

Arrival at the shopping mall in a convertible

Parking lot is pretty full!

A "typical" home? Perhaps not, but the owners leave by car - typical

Finally the 15 seconds of cycling shown

A separate scene of cycling, with an adult and a child - and oddly, a very small imported car

The whole film is about six minutes long (for some reason, it is contained in the video file twice). It shows an America heavily oriented on cars, which I suppose is not surprising. Perhaps the 15 or so seconds of cycling shown is generous. Other than people shown walking to and from cars, no one is shown walking.

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