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THEMATIC: The American Landscape:

Cities  |   Natural Disasters  |   The Environment  |   Westward Expansion

Chicago: City of the Century

Chicago: City of the Century
Chicago rose from a swampy frontier town to become the quintessential American city of the nineteenth century.
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City of the Century chronicles Chicago's dramatic transformation from a swampy frontier town of fur traders and Native Americans to a massive metropolis that was the quintessential American city of the nineteenth century.The film tells how innovation, ingenuity, determination and ruthlessness created empires in what was a marshy wasteland and describes the hardships endured by millions of working men and women whose labor helped a capitalist class reinvent the way America did business. Along the way, this program revels in Chicago's triumphs -- among them the architectural experimentation that gave the city one of the world's most distinctive skylines -- and delves into the heart of Chicago's painful struggles. Bringing to life the Windy City's rich mixture of cultures, its writers and journalists, its political corruption and labor upheavals, this film bears witness to the creation of one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in the world.
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
The story of how San Francisco built one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World."
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On May 27, 1937, 200,000 people thronged to the newly-completed Golden Gate bridge and walked, climbed, skated or cycled across. After 18 years of struggles to complete the bridge, San Francisco's jubilance was unrestrained. There was a tap dancer, a tuba player and a woman determined to be the first to walk its length with her tongue out.Twenty years earlier, choked off at the tip of a peninsula, San Francisco had faced a future of increased congestion and economic strangulation. Though many in the city longed for a bridge connecting San Francisco to the counties to the north, the obstacles to construction were daunting. It took a hustler and self-promoter, a man who had never designed or overseen the building of a suspension bridge, to take up the challenge. Joseph Strauss spent thirteen years wrangling with local politicians, arguing with the War Department over designs and fighting lawsuits from bridge opponents before he was able to break ground. By the time the bridge was complete, Strauss, his team of designers and his construction crews had built what has since been called one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World."
Grand Central

Grand Central
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.
Las Vegas: An Unconventional History

Las Vegas: An Unconventional History
A distinctly American saga of optimism and opportunity.
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The story of Las Vegas' last hundred years is a distinctly American saga of optimism and opportunity. By 1999, it had become one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and could lay claim, in the words of one historian, to be "the first city of the twenty-first century."

American Experience tells a rollercoaster story, peopled with unlikely heroes and villains, to trace the city's development from a remote frontier way-station to its Depression-era incarnation as the "Gateway to the Hoover Dam"; from its mid-century florescence as the gangster metropolis known as "Sin City" to its recent renaissance as a corporately-financed, postmodern, desert fantasyland.

Mr. Miami Beach

Mr. Miami Beach
Carl Fisher, the man who invented Miami Beach.
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In 1925, Miami Beach was the hottest spot in America, a magical playground by the sea with luxurious hotels, golf courses, swimming pavilions and Beautiful People. Yet just ten years earlier, none of it existed -- not even the sand. Everything was the creation of Carl Fisher, a fast-living dreamer and master promoter from Indiana. A self-made millionaire who built the Indianapolis Speedway, Fisher saw his tropical paradise boom -- until a hurricane, the Crash of 1929, and his own demons brought it all crashing down.
New Orleans

New Orleans
Focusing primarily on the century from Reconstruction to school desegregation in the 1960s, the film offers a portrait of New Orleans that both explores its unique and distinctive culture and illuminates its central place on the American landscape.
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New Orleans: the utterly original American city that lies at the mouth of the mighty Mississippi and at the beating heart of the great American experiment. Walled in on almost all sides by water, pressed together by the demands and dangers of geography, the crowded streets of New Orleans have always been a laboratory where the social forces that characterize American life play out in dramatic and, at times, disastrous fashion. Over the course of two provocative hours, American Experience tells the story of this remarkable city. Focusing primarily on the century from Reconstruction to school desegregation in the 1960s, the film offers a portrait of New Orleans that both explores its unique and distinctive culture and illuminates its central place on the American landscape. Featuring the city's rich archival resources and a remarkable collection of on-camera commentators, the film also includes a series of verité-style portraits of New Orleans residents. The resulting cinematic narrative is a dialogue between past and present that highlights New Orleans' particular brand of humor, fatalism, and wry rebelliousness, while raising critical questions about what lies ahead for the city and the nation.
New York Underground

New York Underground
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.
New York: A Documentary Film

New York: A Documentary Film
The history of a great city, and the forces that have shaped it.
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Known round the world as "The Big Apple," the thriving metropolis of New York offers everything one could want in a big city -- action, arts, nightlife, culture and more. So how did this city grow from a Dutch trading post into a global and cultural center? The program begins in the early 1600s when the Dutch arrived, and documents the city's development up to the dawn of the 21st century.New York explores the city's role in the American Revolution, and shows how a massive wave of immigrants began the metropolitan melting pot and created new social problems, culminating in Civil War riots. As the city grew, it experienced a new political corruption and a new-found wealth. As the 20th century approached, more immigrants arrived, skyscrapers rose from the ground, and the subway roared into action. New York became a nucleus of cultural activity blazing with glamour and excitement. The program provides an extraordinary view of the 20th century's major events, from the Depression to the New Deal, economic and population booms to social revolution, rebuilding and resurgence.Through unparalleled archival paintings, portraits, photographs and newsreels, and through interviews with celebrated and ordinary citizens, the film paints a brilliant picture of America's biggest city.
New York: The Center of the World

New York: The Center of the World
Postwar New York and the global economic order -- told through the story of the rise, destruction, and afterlife of the World Trade Center.
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The eighth episode of the award-winning series New York: A Documentary Film examines the rise and fall of the World Trade Center -- from its conception in the post-World War II economic boom, through its controversial construction in the 1960s and 1970s, to its tragic demise in the fall of 2001 and extraordinary response of the city in its aftermath.The film presents rare archival footage, including never-before-seen footage of the World Trade Center's architect, Minoru Yamasaki, at work on the project's design in 1962; and extensive interviews with commentators and experts including Guy Tozzoli and Leslie Robertson, the Trade Center's project manager and structural engineer, respectively, who recount firsthand their experience with the project's life and death.Joining them are many of the people who helped make sense of 400 years of New York's history in the first seven episodes of New York: A Documentary Film -- Pete Hamill, Mike Wallace, Robert A. M. Stern and Ada Louise Huxtable among them. The film explores the urban, economic, architectural and symbolic significance of the great towers, their horrific demise, and the ongoing effort to come to terms with their loss.

The World That Moses Built (no website available)
Robert Moses built some of the most ambitious public works ever conceived, and some of the most controversial.
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From the late 1920s through the 1960s, Robert Moses held almost total power over the landscape of New York. He built bridges, highways, Jones Beach, Lincoln Center and the United Nations, some of the most ambitious public works ever conceived, and some of the most controversial.
THEMATIC: The American Landscape:

Cities  |   Natural Disasters  |   The Environment  |   Westward Expansion

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