Segments in this Video

Cities: Places of Hope and Possibilities (01:37)


Cities are hotbeds of intense activity and a broad range of humanity. They are places where major financial decisions are made and fashion and trends are created. Contrasts flourish in cities. Growing cities increase density but decrease space and deplete air.

Birth of Civilization (03:26)

The first cities rose up along the fertile southwest Asian rivers after the Neolithic revolution or "invention" of agriculture. Two criteria for a city's location were accessibility by water and a site that could be defended.

Ancient Athens (01:47)

Ancient Greeks started along the sea. Athens, the birthplace of democracy, spread its intellectual influence across the known world. The Greeks believed in smaller cities to maintain democracy and be able to live on its own resources.

Ancient Rome (05:25)

Rome was known for its great buildings, festivals, religious ceremonies, over-population, and unemployment insurance. The Roman city model spread throughout Western Europe, including the "Chester" or grid pattern found in English cities.

From Fortress to Suburbs (04:31)

The Medieval city contained a central marketplace and surrounding protective wall. The church provided all social services. City dwellers paid large taxes and faced hard conditions. When political power became centralized, monarchs settled into city castles.

Birth of American Cities (02:10)

American cities began in the seventeenth century, and by the nineteenth century they faced density problems and traffic jams as they became more industrial based, especially Philadelphia and Chicago. The train helped American and European cities grow.

Industrial Revolution and the City (02:04)

Urban populations grew as factories increased the number of needed workers. By the 1850s cities demolished their fortifications so they could expand. In 1853, Baron Haussmann transformed Paris to meet the needs of the industrial age.

American Cities and the Birth of the Suburb (02:35)

America brimmed with natural resources and city businesses thrived. When fire destroyed Chicago, it was rebuilt with skyscrapers. Immigrants flooded the cities while public transportation allowed people to move to the new suburbs.

To Choose a City (04:03)

Cheap land, lower taxes, and the car allowed the middle class to move to the suburbs. To reduce the commute, businesses located in the suburbs, leaving the city to flood with poverty. In the 1970s, American cities began to revitalize their cores.

French Cities: 1950s to 1980s (03:41)

In France, the affluent lived in the cities. French town planners in the 1950s, inspired by Swiss architect Le Corbusier, provided suburban housing complexes and suburban cities. Immigrants from Africa and violence flooded the housing projects in the 1980s.

From City to Metropolis (02:09)

Crime and racial tension sustain fear of cities. Today, wealthy city dwellers live on the outskirts in gated communities. The city has become a metropolis, synonymous with insecurity, insensibility, and anonymity.

To Live in the City (03:28)

Big cities are vibrant and cosmopolitan, especially New York City, a frenetic metropolis and cauldron of creativity. In Mexico City, the world's most populated and polluted, tradition and modern live side by side.

Urban Explosions (05:18)

Third world countries face the biggest urban explosions. China slowed its urban growth by requiring permits to move to the city. Growth slowed naturally in Calcutta, while Lagos has become the most densely populated in black Africa.

The Evolving City (03:14)

In the 1960s most huge cities were located in North America and Europe, but by the 1980s many were found in developing countries. All cities face the same problems that threaten farmland and coastlines. Mega-cities like Sao Paola are now the trend.

Urban Phenomenon (03:47)

Cities are places for people to meet others and come together with shared beliefs. They are the centers of innovation and new ideas. Today's metropolis will continue to adapt to economic and social changes as it keeps reinventing itself.

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Early cities emerged from trading posts and fortresses; they were generally accessible by water and easily defended. This program examines the metamorphosis of the city from fort and trading post to cultural epicenter and beyond. Ancient cities are discussed and Athens and Rome are compared. Modern cities including New York and Paris are also presented, with a focus on Paris’s attempt to re-create itself in the 19th century by razing slums to build monuments and boulevards. City planning and public services are examined as well, along with the middle-class exodus from, and recent return to, many American cities. (53 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL10212

ISBN: 978-1-4213-0616-2

Copyright date: ©1999

Closed Captioned

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Recommended by The American Film and Video Review.

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Only available in USA and Canada.