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Clarence Eckerson

STREETFILMS: The Peaceful Pedestrian Plazas of Paris … And What They Can Teach Us

Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton went to Paris … and all you got was his insightful Streetfilms video. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

It’s the past of cities … and also the future.

Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton thought he was simply taking a vacation to France earlier this month, but when he landed in the City of Light with Streetfilms auteur Clarence Eckerson Jr., the pair couldn’t help noticing how much better Paris is than New York.

Guided only by their tourists’ eyes — and souls battered by decades of street fights in New York City that have led to only minor, incremental, unsatisfying change — Gorton and Eckerson walked around and captured the essence of Paris’s enduring (and expanding) human-friendly streetscape.

And lest anyone (like someone on, say, a local community board) scoff and say, “Well, New York isn’t Paris,” the four-minute film makes it very clear that New York could easily implement the changes Paris made to reclaim its streets from cars, pollution and road death.

Watch the film, if only to hear how quiet Paris’s streets are, thanks to the removal of parking and the implementation of slow streets, shared streets, open streets and completely pedestrianized streets. There’s a lesson here for our city, Gorton argues.

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