Playlist American Experience

American Experience

Waad al-Kateab filming the ruins of a building destroyed by bombing in besieged east Aleppo in October 2016. Photo: Waad al-Kateab/FRONTLINE

Some of PBS's Best Documentaries, According to 'Esquire'

Daniel Hautzinger

Esquire recently pointed out that, while Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and other streaming services have been making waves with documentaries over the past few years, PBS has been offering top-level documentaries for decades.
Tetsuya Theodore Fujita. Photo: Roger Tully

The Chicago Professor Who Chased Tornados

Daniel Hautzinger

Tetsuya Theodore Fujita developed a scale measuring the intensity of tornados and prevented airplane crashes by discovering microbursts. Fujita "was often met with skepticism in the beginning—until he was proven right," says a University of Chicago colleague and friend. 
Rita Moreno in "Raúl Juliá: The World's a Stage." Photo: NGL Studios

PBS Announces Local Livestreaming and 2020 Shows

Daniel Hautzinger

PBS has announced a local livestreaming service in partnership with YouTube, as well as some exciting new shows coming in 2020, from WTTW's Prehistoric Road Trip to the five-part Asian Americans and a pair of new documentaries, about Rita Moreno and George W. Bush. 
Ed White, the first American to walk in space, on Gemini 4 mission. Photo: Courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, June 1965

Our Summer of Space Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Lunar Landing

Daniel Hautzinger

Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, humans landed on the moon for the first time. To celebrate that epochal achievement, we have a whole lineup of space-themed programming this summer. Get a preview of our new Summer of Space programming here!  
Women detainees at Angel Island. Photo: California Historical Society

The Chinese Exclusion Act and Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

With the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned all Chinese immigration and naturalization, many Chinese immigrants began moving eastward to towns like Chicago, where they slowly cemented a presence despite the demographic restrictions of the Act. 
An engraving of the Haymarket Affair from Harper's Weekly

The Clash of Wealth and Labor in Chicago's Gilded Age

Daniel Hautzinger

Chicago epitomized the contradictions of late nineteenth century America, with its explosive growth and exorbitant wealth contrasting with abject squalor and a burgeoning labor movement. The two poles infamously came to a head several times in Chicago.
Theodore Roosevelt, Candido Rondon and camaradas sitting in camp, 1914. Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Brazilian Explorer Who Saved Theodore Roosevelt's Life

Daniel Hautzinger

In 1913, Theodore Roosevelt set off on a journey down a river in the Amazonian jungle. The expedition was led in part by one of the little-known heroes of modern Brazil: the explorer and advocate for indigenous peoples Cândido Rondon.
Drawing of a nuclear reactor based on Chicago Pile-1 from the 1944 patent application by inventors Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard. (Image courtesy Argonne National Laboratory)

The Atomic Age's Beginnings on a Squash Court in Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

75 years ago on December 2, scientists at the University of Chicago inaugurated the nuclear era by engineering the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Learn about the origins of nuclear power and the upsides and downsides of its future.

An anti-German cartoon from World War I. Image courtesy Joseph Gustaitis

How World War I Transformed Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

World War I helped trigger huge shifts in Chicago, with the rapid Americanization of Germans, an influx of African Americans, Mexicans, and single women, Prohibition, and more all occured or began because of developments during the Great War.
Various forms of transit in 1904 at State and Madison Streets, with two cable car trains. (Courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority)

Buried History: Chicago’s Forgotten Cable Cars

Daniel Hautzinger

Chicago had the largest cable car system in the world, in terms of riders and equipment. The city's adoption of the new transit system sparked a nationwide boom in cable cars--but it lasted for less than 25 years.
Dave Kloke with his working replica of the Leviathan locomotive, which pulled Lincoln's funeral car on a tour from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois.

Lincoln's Funeral Train

Daniel Hautzinger

In advance of the premiere of the second season of PBS's original Civil War drama Mercy Street and of the airing of a documentary about Lincoln's assassination, revisit the story of a man who built a working replica of the funeral train that carried Lincoln's body from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois. 
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