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CHRONOLOGICAL: 1866 - 1900:

1866  |   1878  |   1887  |   1898

New York Underground

New York Underground (1868-1904)
The New York public transportation system -- the largest public works project in history.
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It began with the blizzard of 1888 -- mountains of snow twenty feet high, horse cars and omnibuses abandoned, the city paralyzed. There was no doubt New York needed a public transportation system. It would be an American epic -- the largest public works project in history, overshadowed only by the Panama Canal.
Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore (1868-1999)
The story of a temperamental artist and the creation of the world's largest piece of sculpture.
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High on a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of four American presidents. Together they constitute the world's largest sculpture. The massive tableau inspires awe and bemusement. How, and when, was it carved? Who possessed the audacity to create such a gargantuan work?The story of Mount Rushmore's creation is as bizarre and wonderful as the monument itself. It is the tale of a hyperactive, temperamental artist whose talent and determination propelled the project, even as his ego and obsession threatened to tear it apart. It is the story of hucksterism and hyperbole, of a massive public works project in the midst of an economic depression. And it is the story of dozens of ordinary Americans who suddenly found themselves suspended high on a cliff face with drills and hammers as a sculptor they considered insane directed them in the creation of what some would call a monstrosity and others a masterpiece.
Lost in the Grand Canyon

Lost in the Grand Canyon (1869)
John Wesley Powell's epic journey into the unknown Grand Canyon.
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In the summer of 1869, a one-armed Civil War veteran led the first expedition down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. John Wesley Powell's epic journey into the unknown established the Grand Canyon as a national landmark, and made him a hero. But when he used his fame to argue against the overdevelopment of the West, Powell was attacked.
Grand Central

Grand Central (1869-1913)
The dramatic story of the construction of New York City's Grand Central Terminal.
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When Grand Central Terminal opened on February 12, 1913, the press heralded it as the greatest railway terminal in the world. By 1947 over sixty-five million people -- the equivalent of forty percent of the population of the United States -- had traveled through the station. Today, it remains one of New York and America's most famous spaces, and a living monument to the nation's great railway age.

Barnum's Big Top (1870-1910)
(no website available)
P.T. Barnum -- huckster, con man, promoter and entertainer.
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P.T. Barnum was huckster, con man, promoter and entertainer. His American Museum featured ancient relics side by side with such "living curiosities" as lions, snakes, bearded ladies and Siamese twins. In 1871 he took the whole show on the road; it traveled by rail. Barnum introduced the idea of three rings, and his "Jumbo the Elephant" added a new word to the English language. By the time he teamed up with James Bailey, his circus had become "The Greatest Show on Earth."
Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford (1870-1999)
Actress, businessperson, and legend -- Mary Pickford played a pivotal role in shaping the first new media of the twentieth century.
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Late in her life, the actor Mary Pickford described a recurring nightmare in which she walked out on stage to perform, only to find there was no one in the audience to watch her. For most of her career, Pickford had played to full houses and adoring fans. She had created a totally new way of acting that entranced audiences and left them spell-bound.

But Mary Pickford wasn't just a talented performer; she was also a creative producer and shrewd businessperson who played a pivotal role in shaping the first new media of the twentieth century. She was the first star to have her own production company and the first woman to take control of her career in a tough business run by tough men. For nearly two decades Pickford skillfully navigated her way through the industry. But by the end of her life, her nightmare became her reality. She discovered that fame was fleeting, the crowds fickle.

This powerful and moving American Experience

production uses archival footage, stills, original audio interviews with Pickford and clips from her movies to tell a story that is full of joy and power, of loneliness and despair.

The Pill

The Pill (1873-1984)
The story behind the development of the drug that put women in control of birth control.
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In May 1960, the FDA approved the sale of a pill that arguably would have a greater impact on American culture than any other drug in the nation's history. For women across the country, the contraceptive pill was liberating: it allowed them to pursue careers, fueled the feminist and pro-choice movements and encouraged more open attitudes towards sex. Among the key players in the development of the drug were two elderly female activists who demanded a contraceptive women could eat like aspirin and then paid for the scientific research; a devout Catholic gynecologist who believed a robust sex life made for a good marriage and argued tirelessly that the Pill was a natural form of birth control; and a brilliant biologist who bullied a pharmaceutical company into risking a possibly crippling boycott to develop this revolutionary contraceptive. In describing the obstacles they all hurdled, The Pill presents a compelling account of a society in transition.
Houdini

Houdini (1874-1926)
He could escape from everything -- except from his own mortality.
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In 1912, Harry Houdini was lowered into the East River in a crate wrapped in chains. The crowd of spectators gasped; reporters pulled out their stopwatches. Houdini was out in less than a minute. The resulting media blitz established him forever as the world's greatest escape artist; on stage, Houdini subjected himself to the Water Torture Cell, being buried aive and other perils of his own design. Throughout his rise from Hungarian immigrant to international star, Houdini confronted humanity's greatest fears - entrapment, pain, death - and emerged victorious.

The Last Stand At Little Big Horn (1876)
(no website available)
One of the most frequently depicted and least understood moments in American history.
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In 1876, when the U.S. Army planned its biggest Indian campaign yet against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, General George Custer led the chase. Custer and his 210 men were surprised and surrounded, the result of arrogance, bad planning and bad intelligence. The battle took "about as much time as it takes a hungry man to eat dinner," leaving no white survivors. One of the most frequently depicted and least understood moments in American history, the story is told from both sides.
The Richest Man in the World:  Andrew Carnegie

The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie (1876-1900)
A look at the poor emigrant boy who built a fortune and then began systematically to give it all away.
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A look at the poor emigrant boy who built a fortune in railroads and steel, and, unlike any industrialist of his time, began systematically to give it away; a man full of contradictions and inner conflict.

Forever Baseball (1876-1947)
(no website available)
A wry philosophical essay on what makes baseball the great American pastime.
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There is hardly a city, town or village without a baseball diamond. More than a game, baseball is a tradition, rite of passage, an enduring passion, a code for understanding the culture. A wry, philosophical essay on what makes baseball the great American pastime.
Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill (1877-1956)
Playwright Eugene O'Neill's turbulent story: from childhood through the years of his prolific career (including "The Iceman Cometh," "A Touch of the Poet," and the autobiographical masterpiece "Long Day's Journey Into Night") to his lonely, painful death
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Eugene O'Neill tells the haunting story of the life and work of America's greatest and only Nobel Prize-winning playwright -- set within the context of the harrowing family dramas and personal upheavals that shaped him, and that he in turn struggled all his life to give form to in his art. More than a biography of the greatest literary genius the American theater has produced, the program is a moving meditation on loss and redemption, family and memory, the cost of being an artist, and the inescapability of the past.

It is also a penetrating exploration of the masterpieces O'Neill created only at the very end of his career -- "The Iceman Cometh" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" pre-eminent among them -- brought to life in mesmerizing scenes performed especially for the production by some of the most gifted actors working in theater today, including Al Pacino, Zoe Caldwell, Christopher Plummer, Robert Sean Leonard, Liam Neeson, and Vanessa Redgrave.

CHRONOLOGICAL: 1866 - 1900:

1866  |   1878  |   1887  |   1898

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