“New York is so rich, and I couldn’t afford to travel so New York became my movie set.”

America’s “least known great documentarian” discusses his 86 years living here, his work during the pandemic re-editing his footage of the city from the 1950s (and that you can see over the next two weekends at the Museum of the Moving Image), how graffiti trains inspired his film Stations of the Elevated, and much more.

It’s the first installment in What Is New York For? — a new occasional new series with THE CITY’s Alyssa Katz talking with creators, thinkers, doers and experts on the existential question of the moment: What Is New York For? In this COVID era of remote work, streamed culture, virtual communities and digital nomads, what is it exactly that keeps us clustering with all the other humans in this famously difficult city?