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The Invisible City: Houston's Housing Crisis

Arguably, James Blue’s most ambitious project, this “complex documentary” (in Blue’s words)  was originally made in five one-hour episodes as an interactive public television series. The sixth episode, which summarized the series, will be screened today. Blue and renowned architect Adele Santos take us on a tour of 1970s Houston, a divided city, growing in the midst of an oil boom. Skyscrapers going up, unemployment going down. One thousand new residents were arriving per week. But the filmmakers see two cities. Visible Houston is populated by well-educated citizens earning high wages with no state or income taxes.  Invisible Houston, for whom the most basic city services did not exist, was inhabited by poorly educated citizens earning low wages. Thanks to the boom, both had jobs, but a hardworking resident of the invisible Houston could be living in a car or a tin shed.

 “The complex documentary began with a concern for and a commitment to changing a particular situation in an urban culture in which Blue himself lived. It was not to take a side but to explore all the facts in their complexity, and to research the problem in books and interviews and consultations with as many citizens from every strata [sic] involved in the issue, either as manager or victim.”

--Dr. Gerald O’Grady, professor, film historian, and James Blue archivist


Country, Year United States, 1977
DirectorJames Blue and Adele Santos
Runtime59 MINS, 00 SECS