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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Constuction > Commerce > Politics > New York Underground (WGBH/American Experience)

New York Underground (WGBH/American Experience)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episode: B



The New York Subway system is taken for granted as a given and surfaces in just about anything about New York.  During the events of 9/11, holes in it from falling debris from the World Trade Center towers falling hit home about how much of New York had been effected going back over a century.  It turns out the famed subway has its own dark history and the beginning of the construction of the legendary site was out of interesting conflict in the late 19th Century well covered by WGBH’s American Experience series episode New York Underground.


Under the nose of most people and especially then-powerful William “Boss” Tweed, designer, innovator and science advocate Alfred E. Beach felt the grossly (and dangerously) overcrowded New York needed to find new space to grow and even just survive.  The concept of a subway was his idea of the answer.  It was rough going and had its setbacks, but it eventually happened.  Elena Mannes wrote and directed this excellent 56 minutes installment and is thorough in her research and squeezes the so much history that you’ll want to see more.


The 1.33 X 1 image is softer than usual with more aliasing errors than we are used to seeing in the oldest of these shows on DVD.  However, this is a documentary and some of the footage that HD could not improve since this happened over a century ago and the oldest silent film needs some serious work of its own.  The result is a mix of black and white film, stills and some new footage.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is simple stereo at best, but just fine for this presentation.  The only extra is a weblink and DVD-ROM PDF printable educational material.  Don’t miss this one.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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