Friday, February 5, 2010

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H Whyte

video topic: Urban design, human connection, plaza
entry type: adaptation of a book
entry no: 24

video title: The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
video series:
architect featured: mixed
creator: William H Whyte
producer: The Municipal Art Society of New York
run time: 58 min divided in 6 10 min clips
release date: 1988

official website:

description and preview:
(click "read more" below)
This witty and original film is about the open spaces of cities and why some of them work for people while others don't. Beginning at New York's Seagram Plaza, one of the most used open areas in the city, the film proceeds to analyze why this space is so popular and how other urban oases, both in New York and elsewhere, measure up. Based on direct observation of what people actually do, the film presents a remarkably engaging and informative tour of the urban landscape and looks at how it can be made more hospitable to those who live in it.

"A complete delight...flows with humor, verve, insight and pleasure...An excellent analysis of major factors of urban design."
--AFVA Evaluations

A great video series on YouTube - featuring 'The Social Life of Small urban Spaces' videos (a companion to the book, or is that vice-versa) by William 'Holly' Whyte . The content is kind of late Mad Men era (OK it's the 1970s, but one expects Don Draper to mosey through the shot looking dapper, but with someone other than his wife on his arm) but still fascinating. I wonder why no one is doing this type of urban analysis in our modern times (and please let me if you know some modern iterations of this) as our media-accessible world this seems easy - maybe even through a series of security cameras stiched together.

View online:

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

part 6


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