• Saving the City
    Remaking the American Metropolis

    Telling stories through the eyes of people who use the city, Saving the City is a multi-part national documentary series in the works along with related educational material highlighting successful and unsuccessful examples of urban development throughout the US and Canada.  Our focus is on downtowns and nearby neighborhoods, the most visible and visited part of our cities.  The programs are arranged by theme, not city, so we can compare and contrast what works and what doesn’t in different places.

    Thanks to the William Penn, Packard, Hewlett, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Buhl Foundations, the Heinz Endowments, a group of Urban Land Institute governors and former board chairs (Wayne Ratkovich, Jim Klingbeil, Ron Nahas, Fritz Grupe, Jim Curtis, Joe Canizaro, Libby Seifel, Tom Toomey and Trish Healy) and several San Francisco-based funders led by George Miller, we are now editing Yesterday’s Tomorrows, our opening two-hour episode exploring 125 years of North American urban history through the lenses of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

    Help us complete Episode 1 — to donate please go to:


    Even small amounts make a big difference.

    All contributions are fully tax-deductible and go through the San Francisco Film Society, a 501c(3) non-profit.

    Why Saving the City now?

    Saving the City can be viewed as an antidote to the dysfunction in Washington and most statehouses by highlighting how the public, private and philanthropic sectors are working together on the local level to get things done.

    America has always had a love-hate relationship with cities. Over 80% of us live in urban areas, a number projected to reach 90% by 2050.  As people and capital continue moving into cities, there is a great opportunity to improve the urban experience by learning from communities across the continent.  Not taking advantage of lessons learned risks having many cities continuing to do things the way they always have, which often means settling for the most expedient solutions rather than the best possible ones.

    Exploring what we have been doing in the name of remaking our cities is an especially timely topic given the recent popularity of urban living along with ongoing debates about equity, energy consumption, and environmental sustainability and resiliency.  Showing how individuals and small groups make a difference, our goal is to empower citizens to more actively participate in their local communities and to demand better results.

    After watching Saving the City, you’ll never look at cities the same way again!

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    Saving the Bay

    Saving the City Executive Producer Ron Blatman also produced Saving the Bay: The Story of San Francisco Bay. Narrated by Robert Redford, the four part series was a PBS national prime time special and continues to air. The series received four regional Emmy awards including for Best Documentary.

    To learn more about Saving the Bay, including video clips and an extensive Education section, please visit www.savingthebay.org.

    Support Saving the City