people on steps of city center

Lewis Mumford on the City 1: The City - Heaven and Hell

This short documentary film is the first part of a larger series hosted by Lewis Mumford, an American historian, sociologist, philosopher, and literary critic, who wrote the book The City in History on which this film is based. The film originally aired in 1963. This first film in the series uses historic footage from all over the world for a kind of meditative effect, punctuated with Mumford's philosophical observations on the past, present, and future of cities. Warning: Some graphic images appear in the last third of this film.

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Course Info

  • Duration 5 video lessons (29 Mins)
  • Published Published
    1963
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Browse Course Chapters

  • Chapter Locked
    1.
    Introduction
    Chapter Duration 1 min
  • Chapter Locked
    2.
    The City as Heaven on Earth
    Chapter Duration 6 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    3.
    The City as a Magnet
    Chapter Duration 3 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    4.
    The City in History
    Chapter Duration 10 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    5.
    The Promise of the City
    Chapter Duration 6 mins

Course Description

This short documentary film is the first part of a larger series hosted by Lewis Mumford, an American historian, sociologist, philosopher, and literary critic, who wrote the book The City in History on which this film is based. The film originally aired in 1963.

This first film in the series uses historic footage from all over the world for a kind of meditative effect, punctuated with Mumford's philosophical observations on the past, present, and future of cities. Eventually the film focuses on a historical account of the rise of cities some 5,000 years ago, and a dire warning about the potential of nuclear holocaust to undo and erase both the past and the future of cities. The theme tying together this chapter of the larger series is the history of cities as ground for the creation of sacred elements, and the meaning that comes from faith in the life-enhancing elements of the city. These sacred elements of cities embody both the creative and the destructive elements of cities, and represent the dual potential of human life when it gathers in cities.

Warning: Some graphic images appear in the ending of "The City in History"

Learn these skills

  • History
  • Urbanism

AICP CM

This course is approved for 0.5 AICP CM Credit.

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