• Episode 1: Yesterday’s Tomorrows

    We take viewers back in time to show how our city centers got into the state they’re in today. We first travel to the turn of the 20th century to visit past visions of the city of the future followed by a look at urban utopias up until World War II. Next we examine post-War downtown renewal efforts in three cities using a timetable to the present — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles — while also highlighting noteworthy campaigns in places such as Boston, New Haven, Baltimore, Fort Worth and San Francisco.


    We recount the ideas and ideals that shaped our cities over the 20th century, from the classical City Beautiful movement at the turn of the new century to Le Corbusier’s prophetic Radiant City of towers in open spaces tied together by sprawling highway networks.

    • City Beautiful: Chicago’s White City, San Francisco, Cleveland, Buffalo
    • Garden Cities: Shaker Heights, Mariemont, Chatham Village, Forest Hills
    • The Radiant City: LeCorbusier’s towers in the park
    • Rockefeller Center: A masterful urban achievement
    • Modern Utopia: Futurama at the 1939 World’s Fair

    We zero in on three cities that represent the evolution of the post-War city center – one harnessing its historical roots, one transformed from steel mill soots and the other a slave to auto routes.

    • The Philadelphia Story: Philadelphia
    • Thoroughly Modern Milltown: Pittsburgh
    • Downtown Tinseltown (If I Only Had A Heart): Los Angeles