Part Four of America: The Story of Us focused on the late 1800’s and early 1900’s centered on the birth of the American city. The cities that featured prominently were New York City, Pittsburgh and Chicago. They showed how these cities developed quickly and some of the developments that came from cities – as well as the downfalls of cities.
• Unsafe working conditions, culminating in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire leading to workplace reform
• The rise of gangsters from prohibition and their hold over the immigrant population
• Mass production of steel and the massive steel factories (Pittsburgh) – easier access to steel leads to mass production of automobiles and high rises
I particularly enjoyed the above segments. I had to do some projects on the Triangle Fire and had a class on organized crime so these were particularly interesting to me. I also think that they did a very good job of recreating the Fire and I found it all the more poignant seeing it on film rather than just reading about it.
This episode really featured the boom period in American history. All of the great developments in the country and all of the landmarks that are still standing today that represent this country (the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood sign). This is a great lead in for the new episode (that is airing as I type this) which is all about the Great Depression – a great juxtaposition.
A couple of interesting tidbits from this episode:
• Al Capone made about $100/minute from the sale of illegal alcohol and gambling
• It took 25 years for the Statue of Liberty to oxidize and turn the green it is today
• The Hollywood sign was originally Hollywoodland and was an advertisement for a housing development
• An actress committed suicide by jumping off of the H of the Hollywood sign – on my birthday (not the same year, many years before I was born)
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