“The Walls Are Rising” (1967): Watch It Online!

by Paula Bosse

mercury-dealership-6110-lemmon_wallsDallasites love their cars…. (photo from “The Walls Are Rising”/AIA Dallas)

by Paula Bosse

Late last year I stumbled across mention of a 1967 film about Dallas called “The Walls Are Rising.” It was made by the American Institute of Architects, Dallas Chapter, and was sponsored by the Greater Dallas Planning Council as a sort of warning to the people of Dallas about the dangers of auto-centric sprawl and uncontrolled urban planning. I searched and searched for the whereabouts of the film, but it seemed to have disappeared without a trace. I contacted AIA Dallas, and after much searching, they found the film, still on an old reel. They digitized the film and screened it before a large and enthusiastic crowd in January, and after viewing the film and listening to a panel discussion, audience members launched into a lively and concerned discussion about the state of Dallas today. It turns out that most of the topics of grave concern in 1967 continue to be topics of grave concern today, almost 50 years later.

AIA Dallas has uploaded the 27-minute film to Vimeo, and it is now available for all to watch online. Made to emphasize the dangers of out-of-control urban blight brought on by an over-reliance on automobiles, a lack of green spaces, and depressing expanses of visual clutter, the film is a sardonic look at a claustrophobically “modern” Dallas. It’s a hip documentary — absolutely a product of its era — made by a filmmaker with avant-garde tendencies; imagine what an industrial film would have been like had it been made by “with-it” ad men who were given free-rein to get their message across (and who may have indulged in illicit substances during the editing phase). Not as weird as the film itself (though still plenty weird) are some of the proposals from architects and planners on ways to improve the city’s “livability.”

Best of all, though, are all the photos of the city. It’s great being able to hit “pause” and take a look at each and every 1967 photo of Dallas, from a jam-packed downtown, to a cluttered Oak Lawn, to a serene Turtle Creek.

Thanks again to AIA Dallas for finding the film and uploading this weird little slice of Dallas history!

The Walls are Rising from AIA Dallas on Vimeo.

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A few screengrabs (click for larger images):

oak-lawn_jays_esquire_walls

lee-optical_walls

sterling_walls-are-rising_1967

night_parking

state-fair-2_walls

turtle_turtle-creek_walls***

The video can be found on Vimeo here.

All photos by Ronald Perryman, from his film “The Walls Are Rising” (1967), “produced by Greater Dallas Planning Council in collaboration with Dallas Chapter of American Institute of Architects.”

The AIA Dallas website is here.

Robert Wilonsky’s Dallas Morning News blog post (May 21, 2015) on the uploading of this film is here.

My previous posts on “The Walls Are Rising” can be found here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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