• Episode 5: Economic Engines

    As job creation, economic activity and a solid tax base are necessary for a successful city, we look at three drivers of the urban economic engine — retailing, post-industrial opportunities and large scale development projects.


    Retailing was once one of the mainstays of downtowns but with the advent of suburban malls, the big box revolution and the internet, most city centers have lost their consumer karma. We browse through three different downtown shopping experiences, learning why some places can still make the sale while others have gone out of business.

    • Designing Districts: Miami
    • The Once Grand Avenue: Milwaukee
    • Progress and Preservation: San Francisco

    With industry having long left city centers, once gritty factory and warehouse districts have been transformed into dynamic urban neighborhoods — we celebrate two such examples and evaluate the loss of a third.

    • Flour Power: Minneapolis
    • Jobbers Canyon: Omaha
    • A Fine Brew: San Antonio

    Big Lots
    Often former railyards, many cities have large, undeveloped tracts of land on the edges of their downtowns. We examine how well three of these big lots have morphed into vital parts of their respective communities.

    • Victory or Defeat?: Dallas
    • Cultured Pearl: Portland
    • West Don Lands: Toronto