An elegant, lyrical and compelling portrait of the greatest and most complex of cities. This definitive series chronicles the history of New York from its founding in 1624 as a Dutch trading post to its continuing pre-eminence as the cultural and economic capital of the world. The first hours of NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM chronicle New York's beginnings -- from its earliest days as a Dutch trading post to the 17th century construction of the Erie Canal, which made New York City a vital conduit to the mainland of a growing America. Episode 1: The Country and the City (1609-1825) Program Description The series begins by identifying the key themes that shaped New York's history: commerce and capitalism, diversity and democracy, transformation and creativity. The episode charts the development of the city founded by the Dutch as a purely commercial enterprise, first as New Amsterdam, a freewheeling enclave of trade and opportunity; then as the British New York, a colony fueled by slavery which was bestowed as a birthday gift upon the Duke of York by his brother, King Charles; soon after as a strategically pivotal locale in the American Revolution; and ultimately as the city of New York: the nation's first capital and the place destined to define urban life in America -- and American ideals. Episode 2: Order and Disorder (1825-1865) This episode of NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM details New York's enormous growth as a booming commercial center and multi-ethnic port, and the mounting tensions that set the stage for the nation's bloodiest riot. Program Description Already established as America's premier port, New York City swelled into the nation's greatest industrial metropolis as a massive wave of German and Irish immigration turned the city into one of the world's most complex urban environments, bringing with it a host of new social problems. Episode Two reveals how the city's artists, innovators and leaders, from poet Walt Whitman to Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (the designers of Central Park) grappled with the city's growing conflicts -- which culminated in the catastrophic Civil War Draft Riots of 1863. Episode 3: Sunshine and Shadow (1865-1898) This episode of NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM turns to the period when greed and wealth fueled an expanding metropolis, even as politics and poverty defined it. Program Description Now the spotlight shines on the growth, glamour and grief of New York during America's giddy postwar "Gilded Age." Exploring the incomparable wealth of the robber barons and the unabashed corruption of political leaders, such as Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, the episode examines the era when the expansion of wealth and poverty -- and the schism between them -- built to a crescendo. The program ends as the city itself dramatically expands its boundaries, annexing Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island into a single massive metropolis -- Greater New York. Episode 4: The Power and the People (1898-1914) This episode of NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM follows New York into a new century in the wake of an extraordinary wave of immigration and the birth of the skyscraper. Program Description As New York spilled into the new century, the extraordinary interplay of capitalism, democracy and transformation surged to a climax. During a single generation, over 10 million immigrants arrived in New York. The city itself became an even more dramatic lure with the construction of the first subways and skyscrapers. And arising from the plight of New York's most exploited citizens came landmark legislation that would eventually transform the lives of all Americans. Episode 5: Cosmopolis (1914-1931) During the fifth episode of NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM, the post-war economic boom, the rise of consumer culture, and the birth of new mass-media industries fuel the convergence of an incredible array of human and cultural energies, ending with the Crash of 1929 and the construction of the Empire State Building. Program Description In this short but dazzling period, New York became the focal point of an extraordinary array of human and cultural energies, reaching its highest levels of urban excitement and glamour. In just over a decade, New York gave birth to its signature skyscrapers, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, and to artistic creations like F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE GREAT GATSBY, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," and to the jazz compositions of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Along the way, Harlem emerged as the undisputed capital of the African- American experience and the new media industries of advertising, radio networks, public relations, and magazines found their homes in midtown Manhattan. Episode 6: The City of Tomorrow (1931-1940) During the sixth episode of NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM, the dramatic events that followed the Crash of '29 fuel the greatest economic depression in American history and plunge the city and the nation into economic gloom. Program Description In little more than ten years, immense new forces were unleashed in New York, from the Depression itself to the New Deal, which permanently altered the city and the country. Along the way, two of the most remarkable New Yorkers of all time came to the fore: Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and master builder Robert Moses, both of whom attempted to create, in the darkest of times, a bold new city of the future. The episode examines their careers in detail, as well as the immense public works that transformed the city in the '30s. Also explored are the demise of Mayor Jimmy Walker, the coming of the New Deal, the fate of Harlem during the Depression, and the increasingly complex impact of the automobile on the city. Episode 7: The City and the World (1945-Present) During the seventh episode of NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM, the turbulent and often harrowing years from 1945 to the present are explored. Emerging from the Depression and the Second World War as the most powerful metropolis on Earth, New York soon confronted urban woes of unprecedented proportions, and fought for its very existence. Program Description In exploring the social, economic and physical forces that swept through the city in the post-war period, Episode Seven examines the great African-American migration and Puerto Rican immigration of the '40s, '50s, and '60s; the beginnings of white flight and suburbanization; and the massive physical changes wrought by highways and urban renewal -- all of which were directed, to a surprising degree, by one man: Robert Moses. The film comes to a climax with the destruction of Penn Station, the battle over the Lower Manhattan Expressway, the social and fiscal crises of the '60s and '70s, and New York's miraculous revival in the last quarter-century. Episode 8: The Center of the World In this final chapter of Ric Burns's acclaimed series New York: A Documentary Film, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents a powerful portrait of the events leading up to and away from the fall of 2001. To understand the impact of September 11th, "The Center of the World" reaches back to 1946 when the idea of building a "world trade center" in lower Manhattan was first conceived. It chronicles the construction of the towers and explores the astonishing expansion of American economic power during the second half of the twentieth century. Turning again to many of the men and women who helped shape the first seven episodes of the series -- Mike Wallace, Peter Hamill, Kenneth Jackson, and Ada Louise Huxtable among them -- the film explores the physical, economic, and symbolic aftermath of the attack and examines what Americans can learn from the recovery effort -- about who they are and who they will be. Also appearing in the film are former governor Mario Cuomo, former mayor Ed Koch and the present mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg . The WTC project manager and engineers share their firsthand accounts of the life and death of the twin towers that became the real and symbolic center of an economic system that would dominate much of the face of the planet.
New York: A Documentary Film
A compelling portrait of the greatest and most complex of cities