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NOTES Chapter 2. The Social Life of the Street p. 8 The ordinary encounters of everyday street life can be filmed quite unobtrusively . One way is to shoot from afar with a telephoto lens. This perspective is all right for tracking shots and pedestrian flows. But it is all wrong for most street activity. For that you should get up close, and the closer the better. Facial expressions, hand gestures, feet movements: you want to move in for these. The problem, of course, is to do this without your subjects' being aware of your interest. But on a busy street they usually pay you no heed. To keep it that way, I find that it is important not to hold the camera up to eye level and point it at them. I mount a spirit level atop my cine cameras. If I look down at it, the camera cradled in my arms, I can be reasonably sure the subjects are properly framed. I use a very wide angle lens to assure this—and to give me enough depth of field for good focus. I stand off to one side and try to keep the people at the edge of my peripheral vision. I never look at them directly. If they catch you doing this they are on to you immediately—and you are affecting that which you are studying. Jan Gehl's continuing studies of Copenhagen's street life showed a significant increase in activity. Between 1968 and 1986, the center city population declined 33 percent. The number of pedestrians using the area, however, increased 25 percent. There was a qualitative improvement too. People were not only coming to the center more frequently; they were staying longer when they came. p. 10 An excellent study of waiting behavior has been carried out by Professor Hidetoshi Kato and some of his students at Tokyo's Gakushuin University . The waiting place: the plaza in front of Shibuya Station, Tokyo, with the statue of faithful dog Hachiko. Hachiko was the pet of a Professor Uneo. Every morning Hachiko would go to the station to see his master NOTES [351] off, and every evening he would return to greet him. One day Professor Uneo died and did not come back. Day after day Hachiko would go to the station to greet him. People were touched by this loyalty. Hachiko became famous. People contributed money to have a statue of him placed outside the station. It became the leading rendezvous place of Tokyo. Professor Kato mounted a time-lapse camera above the square and recorded the daily activity. His students interviewed the people who were waiting for someone. People were consistent in their choice of places to wait, the number-one location being slightly off-center from the statue. People were consistent also in their bench use. As with New York sitters, those who sat for long periods were strongly outnumbered by those who sat for short periods—but the long-termers accounted for the great bulk of the available seat minutes. Averaged elapsed time of waiting was thirteen minutes during the day, nine in the evening. The Japanese are very punctilious and can exhibit considerable annoyance when waiting overlong. Americans are more casual about this, but then they are more casual about turning up on time. Most of the waiting is requited, but sometimes it is not. To Professor Kato the square is theatre: "This is the place/' he says, "where young lovers say hello to each other at 5 P.M.and say good night at 9 P.M. This is the place where the drama begins and the drama ends. Happy stories and sad stories." Hidetoshi Kato, "A Study of Waiting Behavior," in A Comparative Study of Street Life: Tokyo, Manila, and New York, Hidetoshi Kato, Randolph David, William H. Whyte (Tokyo: Gakushuin University, 1978). p. 11 Our counts showed a fairly consistent distribution of people by size of group. At Seagram Plaza the proportion of people alone averaged 38 percent; the proportion in groups, 62 percent. People in pairs, 38 percent; in threesomes, 12 percent, in fours or more, 12 percent. At the Exxon Plaza the proportion alone was 47 percent; in groups, 53 percent. People in pairs, 34 percent; in threesomes, 11 percent; in fours or more, 8 percent . Counts were of people sitting, with the exception of standees who were part of a sitting group. Low percentages of people in groups are an indication something is wrong. The steps...


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