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.
A special narration track is added to the series by Descriptive Video Service® (DVS®), a service of WGBH to provide access to people who are blind or visually impaired. The DVS narration is available on the SAP channel of stereo TVs and VCRs.