Ric Burns (brother of the famed documentarian Ken Burns) presents an exhaustive history of New York City from the settling of the area by the Dutch to the attack by terrorists nearly 400 ... See full summary »
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2003   2001   1999  
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Narrator (8 episodes, 1999-2003)
John Steele Gordon ...
 Himself - Commentator (7 episodes, 1999-2001)
Kenneth Jackson ...
 Himself - Commentator (7 episodes, 1999-2001)
Robert A.M. Stern ...
 Himself - Commentator (7 episodes, 1999-2001)
...
 Himself - Commentator (7 episodes, 1999-2001)
(6 episodes, 1999-2001)
Brendan Gill ...
 Himself - Commentator (6 episodes, 1999-2001)
Calvin O. Butts III ...
 Himself - Commentator (5 episodes, 1999-2001)
Robert A. Caro ...
 Himself - Commentator (5 episodes, 1999-2001)
Peter Hamill ...
 Himself - Commentator (5 episodes, 1999-2001)
Alfred Kazin ...
 Himself - Commentator (5 episodes, 1999-2001)
David McCullough ...
 Himself - Commentator (5 episodes, 1999-2001)
(5 episodes, 1999-2001)
Luc Sante ...
 Himself - Commentator (5 episodes, 1999-2001)
(5 episodes, 1999-2001)
Craig Steven Wilder ...
 Himself - Commentator (5 episodes, 1999-2001)
(4 episodes, 1999-2001)
(4 episodes, 1999-2001)
...
 Himself - Commentator (4 episodes, 1999-2001)
...
 Himself - Commentator / ... (4 episodes, 1999-2001)
(4 episodes, 1999-2001)
Daniel Czitrom ...
 Himself - Commentator (4 episodes, 1999)
(4 episodes, 1999)
Peter Quinn ...
 Himself - Commentator (4 episodes, 1999)
Marshall Berman ...
 Herself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999-2001)
...
 Himself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999-2001)
...
 Himself - Comentator (3 episodes, 1999-2001)
Josh Hamilton
(3 episodes, 1999-2001)
David Levering Lewis ...
 Himself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999-2001)
...
 Himself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999-2001)
Carol Willis ...
 Herself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999-2001)
Caleb Carr ...
 Himself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999)
(3 episodes, 1999)
Phillip Lopate ...
 Himself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999)
...
 Himself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999)
(3 episodes, 1999)
John Kuo Wei Tchen ...
 Himself - Commentator (3 episodes, 1999)
Joshua Freeman ...
 Himself - Commentator (2 episodes, 1999-2001)
Ruth J. Abram ...
 Herself - Commentator (2 episodes, 1999)
Thomas Bender ...
 Himself - Commentator (2 episodes, 1999)
Carol Berkin ...
 Herself - Commentator (2 episodes, 1999)
(2 episodes, 1999)
Margo Jefferson ...
 Herself - Commentator (2 episodes, 1999)
Frederic Kimball
(2 episodes, 1999)
David Margulies
(2 episodes, 1999)
Gretchen Sullivan Sorin ...
 Herself - Commentator / ... (2 episodes, 1999)
(2 episodes, 1999)
Bella Abzug ...
 Herself - Commentator (2 episodes, 2001)
Frances Golden ...
 Herself - Commentator (2 episodes, 2001)
Cheryl Greenberg ...
 Herself - Commentator (2 episodes, 2001)
Ada Louise Huxtable ...
 Herself - Commentator (2 episodes, 2001)
...
 Himself - Commentator (2 episodes, 2001)
...
 Herself - Commentator (2 episodes, 2001)
(2 episodes, 2001)
Ray Suarez ...
 Himself - Commentator (2 episodes, 2001)
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Storyline

Ric Burns (brother of the famed documentarian Ken Burns) presents an exhaustive history of New York City from the settling of the area by the Dutch to the attack by terrorists nearly 400 years later. Told in a sentimental tone, Burns weaves a lyrical tale of the great metropolis that encompasses not only the city's streets, but also that of the history of America. Though around fourteen hours in length, this epic documentary presents a thoughtful, entertaining look at our relatively young country. Written by Chris Bogner

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Release Date:

September 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Experience: New York - A Documentary Film  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally, the film was to be a seven-episode documentary. After the World Trade Center was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, an eighth episode - "The Center of the World" about the rise and fall of the Twin Towers - was made. It aired September 8, 2003. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: On September 2nd, 1609, an English explorer hired by the Dutch to find a faster route to the riches of the Orient steered his 80 ton ship off the surging currents of the North Atlantic and into an immense sheltered bay. Sailing into the mouth of the mile-wide river that flowed into it from the north, he pushed 100 miles upstream, hoping it led to China. It didn't.
See more »

Connections

References King Kong (1933) See more »

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User Reviews

 
an elephantine story of one of the crucial cities of the mast thousand years (or more)
7 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Sure Ric Burns (related directly to TV-documentary maestro Ken) may not provide a documentary that is outright 'entertaining' like a Michael Moore film, or isn't strangely engaging in its montage like Errol Morris' The Fog of War, but he understands something that all good documentary filmmakers know. If you get your subject down, and what story of the subject you want to tell, the rest is just history, literally. And if you are a history buff at all, or just interested in the tales and lineage and drama that made what is New York City what it is today, this is the documentary to see. Of course, it's not an easy feat; like his brother Kens's Jazz documentary, New York is split up into seemingly countless hours of detail, going over its 300+ year history, from the days of Henry Hudson, to the Revolution, the the draft riots (covered brilliantly in Gangs of New York), the trials and tribulations of the immigrants, and leading up to 9/11.

It's basically the kind of documentary in which once you see one part of it, say part 2 covering 1830 to the 1870, or part 5 covering the early 1900's, and you want to see more, you'll know what you're getting. One could criticize the over-abundance of dramatic, TV-esquire music, the emphasis on piling on the weight on certain subjects over others, or that (ironically) the time given still isn't enough. But as one interviewee says, there is not one definitive book or books by an author that give a totally clear idea of what New York was like in such a time and place or another. For someone who has been to the Apple countless times, seen many of Manhattan and Bronx's sites, and recognized that New York carries with it the residue of dozens of passing generations and cultures and tragedies and joys, this serves as THE documentary, at least with information terms, what New York was. At the least, you can impress (some of) your friends and family with bits of information, like about Alexander Hamilton or how the formation of all the NYC roads were built, or the bits within the massive scope of the immigration stories.


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