20th Century Babylon (03:38)
In 1951, New York became the most exciting city. Jazz, the Beat Generation, Marlon Brando, and television emerged from a new creative energy. Much of Europe was destroyed in World War II; hopes shifted to the U.S.
United Nations Building (02:38)
The U.N. headquarters cemented New York City's status as a global center. Designed by an architect team including Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier, the Security Council retains original 1951 decor.
Madison Avenue Advertising (02:38)
Consumer culture emerged in New York in 1951. David Ogilvy contracted with Hathaway Shirts.
Hathaway Ad Campaign (03:17)
Ogilvy attracted viewers by featuring a model in an eye patch. Jane Maas describes working for him in the 1950s; they were the inspiration for "Mad Men."
Village Counter-Culture (02:42)
By urging Americans to buy the same products, advertisers created pressure to conform. A reaction against consumption developed in New York's downtown area.
New York's Bohemia (02:15)
Composer and jazz musician David Amram describes the Village's spirit of creativity and counter-cultural scene in 1951.
Beat Generation Manifesto (02:38)
In 1951, Jack Kerouac wrote a novel based on his road trips across the U.S. He practiced an uninterrupted writing strategy using a teletype scroll.
"On the Road" (03:53)
Kerouac's novel describes the seedier side of America, criticizes suburban middle class values, and celebrates individuality and eccentricity. Joyce Johnson discusses how the Beat Generation evolved from his original vision.
Bebop Stars (02:58)
African-American musicians in New York created a radical new jazz form prizing virtuosity and innovation. Learn about Thelonious Monk's career and seminal recording "Straight, No Chaser."
Father of Modern Jazz (02:18)
Monk's son T.S. discusses the musical genius that birthed bebop, and the impact of Thelonious' innovations on musicians like John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
Jackson Pollack (03:08)
The modernist painter combined European art traditions with American culture. He describes his technique and vision in a recording; the floor of his Long Island studio contains remnants of his work.
"One: Number 31, 1950" (03:33)
James Fox analyzes Pollack's masterpiece in terms of its expression of American culture. In 1951, he began drinking again, leading to his artistic and personal demise.
Method Acting (02:51)
In 1951, James Dean arrived in New York and joined the Actor's Studio. Lee Strasberg developed a revolutionary strategy for bringing actors' genuine emotions into characters.
Actor's Studio Community (04:01)
While working on an effective memory in method acting, Dean cut himself with a knife. Lee Grant describes fear and respect inspired by Strasberg; view a clip of him criticizing Geraldine Page.
Marlon Brando (03:14)
View clips from "A Streetcar Named Desire." Brando's performance exposed method acting to national audiences. In 1951, a new American hero was born that rebelled against conservative complacency.
Live Broadcast Television (03:45)
By 1951, TV was overtaking cinema. View excerpts of the Giants vs. Dodgers game, in which Bobby Thompson's home run won the game for the Giants. The event established TV as a national unifying medium.
Shaping Modern Life (01:37)
New York gave birth to mass consumerism and counter-culture in 1951. Vienna explored human emotion in 1908 and Paris rebuilt Europe's faith in the future in 1928.
Credits: New York 1951 (00:48)
Credits: New York 1951
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