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The Next American Dream

Airs Monday, April 23, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Cityscape from the film

Credit: Courtesy of T2 Entertainment & Inland Sea Productions

Above: Cityscape from the film "The Next American Dream," showing urban walkability.

American Downtowns. Once we loved them. Then we left them. Now we’re returning to them in increasing numbers as the urban core of cities all across the country are coming back to life. What has caused this change in the American lifestyle? Why did we abandon downtowns to begin with? Can this new revival be sustained?

“The Next American Dream” is an examination of how American cities – specifically our downtowns -- will change and grow in the decades ahead. The Post World War II American Dream led to the birth of the interstate highway system, suburbia, and an automobile-driven society.

Today, a host of unintended consequences of that generation’s choices -- from environmental to social – is paving the way for the next American dream. As demographers predict a steady rise in the percentage of American households without children, and a tremendous increase in the demand for walkable urban spaces – what will the next American dream look like?

In 2005, filmmakers in Kansas City, Missouri, secured unprecedented access to the planning and reconstruction efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown urban core. The film blends the story of this city’s comeback with interviews with urban planning experts from around the country, archival footage and commentary from the people who are returning to live in our downtowns.

“The Next American Dream” also focuses on how the built environment has reflected (or some would say driven) the American Dream and how urban planners and downtown developers are re-adapting their strategies to meet the needs of a modern and more environmentally conscious society.

So, join us for a fascinating visual tour through the downtowns of our past, the ongoing changes of the present and a glimpse at the future of “The Next American Dream.”

Trailer: The Next American Dream

The Next American Dream Trailer from KCADC on Vimeo.

“The Next American Dream” is an examination of how American cities – specifically our downtowns -- will change and grow in the decades ahead. The Post World War II American Dream led to the birth of the interstate highway system, suburbia, and an automobile-driven society. Today, a host of unintended consequences of that generation’s choices -- from environmental to social – is paving the way for the next American dream.

The Next American Dream: Urban Walkability

Listen to national experts as they define urban walkability and examine public space as important elements for downtown renewal in American cities.

The Next American Dream: Housing Demographics

As national experts predict a steady rise in the percentage of American households without children, what will the next American Dream look like?

The Next American Dream: Futurama 1939

Take a step back in time to see what caused the mass exodus from our urban cores resulting in suburban sprawl.

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