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 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 up to the present in three cities – Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles – while also highlighting noteworthy campaigns in places such as Baltimore, Boston, Fort Worth, New Haven and San Francisco.

A Century of Cities

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

  • City Beautiful: Chicago’s White City at the 1893 World’s Fair, San Francisco, Cleveland, Buffalo

  • Garden Cities: Radburn, Chatham Village, Forest Hills, Mariemont, Sunnyside

  • Radiant City: Le Corbusier’s towers in the park

  • Rockefeller Center: A masterful achievement

  • Modern Utopia: Futurama exhibit at the 1939 NY World’s Fair

A Tale of Three Cities

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 roots.

  • The Philadelphia Story: Philadelphia
  • Thoroughly Modern Milltown: Pittsburgh
  • Downtown Tinseltown (If I Only Had A Heart): Los Angeles
  • City Beautiful: Chicago’s White City at the 1893 World’s Fair, San Francisco, Cleveland, Buffalo
  • Garden Cities: Radburn, Chatham Village, Forest Hills, Mariemont, Sunnyside
  • Radiant City: Le Corbusier’s towers in the park
  • Rockefeller Center: A masterful achievement
  • Modern Utopia: Futurama exhibit at the 1939 NY World’s Fair
  • The Philadelphia Story: Philadelphia
  • Thoroughly Modern Milltown: Pittsburgh
  • Downtown Tinseltown (If I Only Had A Heart): Los Angeles