Directed by Charles Guggenheim, the 1956 short film THE BIG CITY is St. Louis’ annual report for the citizens of St. Louis “whose tax dollar runs the Big City”; it is almost a minute-by-minute story of what the tax payer’s dollar buys. A film from the St. Louis Public Library, the film opens with a promotional spot for the learning center of the St. Louis Public Library. The day begins in the early hours of the morning as a police car drives through downtown St. Louis (01:13). Citizens throw garbage out onto the streets (02:00), and a homeless man leaves a tunnel to see what time it is (02:19). It is now 6:40 AM and the people of St. Louis begin waking up, bathing, shaving, and getting ready for the day. At the city reservoir (03:20), 6 million gallons of water are used within an hour, prompting the order to be given to step up the pumps (03:52) to provide more water for the people. Water comes from the Mississippi River—flowing past old buildings and under bridges (04:04)—and the soil and debris in the water must be filtered out. The water is treated at the water treatment plant (04:34); inside the plant (04:54), pumps at Baden and Bissell Point (05:18) move the water to the citizens who need it. By 8:00 AM, water is provided to the factories, mills, and foundries. The Big City lives on clean water and clean air. An employee checks a “breathing machine” (06:19) to ensure air quality is at safe levels. As 8:00 AM arrives, the demands on St. Louis’ streets increase (06:45), and traffic light controls are adjusted to better accommodate the heavy traffic. The city not only maintains the traffic lights but the signs, streets, and alleys. Painting street lines is also a crucial task of the city (07:43); 23,000 gallons of paint are used each year for this task alone. As traffic moves people into the city (08:10), elevators begin moving people up the buildings (08:25) and to their offices. Elevator maintenance and inspections are just another part of the city’s job. Another major job is garbage collection, as trucks leave the yard (10:12) to collect the city’s garbage and haul it to the dump (10:38), where it is incinerated (11:00). At the laboratory of City Public Health (11:37), tests are run to determine the status of communicable diseases. Rabies control (12:04), mosquito control, and even milk control all fall under the purview of City Public Health, which works tirelessly to ensure disease prevention. City Health also takes care of patients of every age (12:53), while the city’s rec centers provide programs for toddlers (13:28) and activities for older children. The city also provides the facilities necessary for a variety of sports (14:33), including softball, tennis, soccer, boxing, and field hockey. Members of the community enjoy picnicking at the city’s parks. City employees maintain the sports complexes, parks, and playground located all around the city. Starting around 4:30 PM, the men and women of St. Louis begin leaving the downtown for their suburban homes. The mayor leaves City Hall (16:10) at the end of a normal day, one that included numerous meetings on improving the city. In city garages (17:13), cars and trucks wait to be serviced. As night falls, every street of the Big City is swept clean. First responders play checkers (18:10) at the station waiting to get called out. The city is on standby—day and night—waiting to respond to emergencies. A fire alarm goes off at the fire station (19:27), and Bumpers 9, 41, 40, and Hook and Ladder 7 respond. They leave the station and drive through the city (20:18), arriving at the burning building (20:23), where they call for back up. Ambulances rush to help (21:30), as fire fighters battle the blaze (21:52). By morning, the building is in ruins (22:35), and the rescued-but-now-orphaned children are the responsibility of the city until a foster home can be found. The film ends as it started, with a police car driving through the city at the dawn of another day.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com