Research

Motion pictures of Thruway construction and related matters

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series contains promotional films produced by a Thruway Authority Motion Picture Unit or Photographic Bureau within the Department of Public Information. The films, which span 1951-1967, cover the following subjects: construction; opening ceremonies for different road sections and bridges (Governors Thomas Dewey and W. Averell Harriman appear during their respective administrations); portrayals of the road's benefits to the state in prosperity, convenience and safety; portrayals of the advantages of tandem-trailer trucking; maintenance programs; and traffic studies.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
15 cu. ft(including 392 motion picture films and 13 videotapes)
Inclusive Dates:
[ca. 1951-1967
Series Number:
14512

Administrative History

The motion picture collection appears to be the work of a Thruway Authority Motion Picture Unit or Photographic Bureau within the Department of Public Information. The Department created its earliest films for television promotion of the 1951 constitutional amendment that allowed the state to guarantee the Thruway Authority's bonds and thus complete the Thruway. The Department also produced new films in the mid-1950s to provide status reports on construction and to increase the use of the Thruway as quickly as possible. There were hundreds of showings of Thruway films during these years. During the early 1960s, another feature film was made to encourage trucks to use the Thruway. Thereafter, film was used for traffic studies, training, and documentation of Thruway operations.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains promotional films produced by a Thruway Authority Motion Picture Unit or Photographic Bureau within the Department of Public Information. The films, which span 1951-1967, cover the following subjects: construction; opening ceremonies for different road sections and bridges (Governors Thomas Dewey and W. Averell Harriman appear during their respective administrations); portrayals of the road's benefits to the state in prosperity, convenience and safety; portrayals of the advantages of tandem-trailer trucking; maintenance programs; and traffic studies. Highlights of the series include documentary footage on engineering accomplishments such as the relocation of a section of the Barge Canal and construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge; features of the safety program, such as the Communications Center; footage of the land through which the Thruway runs, ca. 1950; New York's major cities as they looked in the early 1950s; long-distance trucking early in its development; public relations via theater newsreel, television, and the Thruway's promotional tour; and construction of a major public works project.

Footage of construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, the first American bridge supported by underwater buoyant foundation blocks, is extensive. The films also address postwar economic growth, labor and materials shortages, and fears that the Korean War will mushroom into a Third World War. The film narration is similar to the Authority's print promotional literature.

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