Episode 1: Yesterday’s Tomorrows
We take viewers back in time to show how our city centers got into the state they are in today. We first travel to the turn of the 19th century to visit influential visions of the city followed by a look at pre-World War II efforts to realize those ambitions.
Next we examine parallel post-war downtown renewal efforts in three cities – Philadelphia, making a valiant effort to keep William Penn’s 1682 plan alive and well into the 21st century; Pittsburgh, transforming itself from a grimy polluter’s paradise to first a modern corporate center and more recently a higher education and health care hub; and Los Angeles, the godfather of suburban sprawl and satellite city centers where downtown is once again on the upswing.
Episode 2: Living Downtown
Focusing on the most important element in creating a vibrant downtown — people living in the heart of the city — we meet some of those who have chosen to make the city center their home as well as others who have left, sometimes out of frustration with urban life.
We then look at how downtowns – traditionally centers of commerce and culture – are increasingly evolving into centers of higher learning and medical research as cities turn to health and education as underpinnings of the new economy. The episode ends with comparisons of how three cities are working to better move people to and through their downtown cores while seeking to increase the quality of those experiences.
Episode 3: Let Us Entertain You
We wander through the latest generation of downtown parks and pathways, which are increasingly important in the quest to get people to live, work and play in the heart of the city.
And, with dining, entertainment and sports touted as tonics for drowsy downtowns, we explore exciting and energetic city centers while lamenting notable failures. We go behind the scenes and meet the people working to pump up the volume while dissecting the decision-making process behind major development initiatives.
Episode 4: Our Towns
After exploring how a wide range of cities are remaking themselves by focusing on specific components of downtown renewal, Episode 4 highlights three cities that have managed to bring together many of these key elements.
We then look to the future by focusing on three cities in the midst of multi-facteted efforts to remake their downtowns — all with the ambitious goal of creating a thriving, lively urban center where previously there was none. While celebrating city centers that work well through foresight, execution and sometimes, sheer luck, we seek to learn from their successes and failures and share these experiences for the benefit of communities everywhere, large and small.