Directed by
Hobson, Charles, American, 1936 - 2020
Written by
Bowser, LeRoy, American, ca. 1929 - 1986
Produced by
Hobson, Charles, American, 1936 - 2020
Chamba Productions, founded 1971
Photograph by
Garcia, Jose, American
Edited by
Jackson, Bob, American
Composed by
Taylor, Rheet, American
Commissioned by
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, American, founded 1965
Interview of
Bond, J. Max Jr., American, 1935 - 2009
De Vore, Dan, American
Bowser, LeRoy, American, ca. 1929 - 1986
Davidoff, Paul, American, 1930 - 1984
Flores, José, American
Román, Francisco A., American
Dr. Carroll, J. D., American
Symes, Art, American, born ca. 1935
Owned by
Bowser, Pearl, American, 1931 - 2023
acetate film
Duration: 23 Minutes
Length (Film): 900 Feet
“It’s the Same Old Game” is a 16mm color film on urban studies directed by Charles Hobson. It was made to encourage citizen participation in the planning process, and shows examples of poor urban planning and development in which the residents had no voice. This film features interviews with children about their neighborhood, community activists, and planners that advocate for community involvement.
A documentary short with the title It’s the Same Old Game. It consists of a single reel of 16mm color acetate film with optical sound. The film features interviews with children about their neighborhood, interviews with community activists, and planners that advocate for community involvement. Aimed at the local citizen, this film encourages citizen participation in the urban planning process. Footage shows problematic aspects of poor urban planning, including air pollution caused by trucks, water pollution, and other problems with industrial areas being too close to residential areas. Footage also includes a contentious meeting on the construction of a new high school near Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn.
The film begins with a voiceover narration and a soft music soundtrack. The narration explains that without citizen involvement in the planning process, then planning will be, as the title suggests, "the same old game." The film then shows three men standing over a table with a model of a city plan on it. The next scene features LeRoy Bowser standing with a pole over a large floor model of New York City. As he discusses housing in the city, he moves around the model and points to different neighborhoods. The next scenes show houses and streets in Jamaica, Queens. Children are interviewed, and they discuss problems with crime and sanitation. The next interview is with Dan De Vore, and he talks about problems with housing that shares neighborhood space with industrial businesses. The footage then shows more street scenes and interviews with the same group of children from earlier in the film.
The next scene features a group of planners looking at plans on a table. The next interview is with Max Bond, and he discusses the importance of community power. An unidentified woman joins in and remarks about the "game," and the struggle to figure out how to leverage it to the community's advantage. Max Bond agrees and suggests one way to change the "game" is to elect people from the neighborhood onto planning commissions and into other offices. The next person to speak is Art Symes, and he remarks that even with getting community people involved in planning commissions, the old methods require change as well. The next scene shows streets in Harlem, and then an aerial view of the streets from the top of a building. The next interview is with Paul Davidoff, and he discusses the problems with white professional planners making decisions on planning without working with people on the street and understanding what they need and the problems to fix.
The next scenes show various problems with housing near industrial districts. In particular, the film shows the problems in Red Hook, Brooklyn, such as the air pollution close to recreation areas for children. The film continues to show a variety of industrial blight mixed in with housing in south Brooklyn. The next interview is with José Flores, and he discusses how to improve neighborhood aesthetics and the problems with heavy trucks traveling through the neighborhood. The next scenes show the problem with a highway cutting through a neighborhood. The next scene shows a community meeting about a planned high school for Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. About a half dozen residents speak out about the planning process and how decisions are made. The main issue appears to be black and white children attending the high school together. There are also many shots of the audience at the meeting.
The next interview is with Francisco A. Román as he is in the process of moving his mother out of her apartment because of his concerns about rising crime in the Red Hook neighborhood. The next interview is with Dr. J.D. Carroll, and he talks about the planning in a broader sense of how all of the smaller parts fit together across the entire region and the problems with competing interests. The next scene features Greenburg, New York, where low-density, low-income housing exists away from industrial areas. There are several shots of children walking around and playing basketball. The final scenes are a montage of clips from the film. The film ends with a shot of traffic coming towards the camera as the film credits are displayed.
Place filmed
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Collection title
Pearl Bower Collection
Media Arts-Film and Video
sound films
color films (visual works)
16mm (photographic film size)
Documentary films
Urban life
Urban planning
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Pearl Bowser
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
Public Domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

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