(NY Auto Show) Cars, Culture, And The City

(NY Auto Show) Cars, Culture, And The City

PSFK attended the opening of the exhibition Cars, Culture, and the City at the Museum of the City of New York. This is the first exhibition to explore New York City’s century-long relationship with the car.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 29 march 2010

Today begins PSFK’s week long coverage of the 2010 New York Auto Show. Throughout the week we’ll be sharing the new reveals from the show, design innovations, and new angles on automotive marketing. Before we get to all the new stuff, PSFK attended the opening of the exhibition Cars, Culture, and the City at the Museum of the City of New York.  This is the first exhibition to explore New York City’s century-long relationship with the car.


Contained in the exhibition are numerous historical technical drawings and illustrations for  infrastructure projects. On display are early renderings of the FDR Drive from noted architectural illustrator Hugh Ferriss. There are also plans for several projects that never got started. One set shows the proposed Lower Manhattan Freeway which would have run through the center of Soho. This controversial plan by Robert Moses was eventually voted down. The above illustration shows what it might have looked like.

The exhibition also contains design and advertising artifacts. The Mechanics’ Institute in Manhattan became the first school in the US to offer an automotive design course of study in the 1890’s. In the 1940’s Pratt Institute supplied many of the US automakers with design graduates including Harry Bradley who went on to design many iconic Hot Wheels cars for Mattel.

The work of NY- based agency Doyle, Dane, Bernbach (DDB) for Volkswagen in the 1960’s is called the most influential advertising campaign ever. The ‘Think Small’ ads featured the Beetle on a plain white background with a simple tag line. Vestiges of the ‘Think Small’ campaign can still be seen in VW advertising today.

Cars, Culture, and the City
Mar 25 through Aug 8

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue @ 103rd St.


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