At the height of New York's fiscal crisis in the 1970s, when the Daily News screamed "Ford to City: Drop Dead" and the outside world saw a metropolis slipping into violent chaos and despair, urbanist Marshall Berman found solace in the subway.
In trains bathed in bright graffiti, early rappers were creating a new form of expression with the help of tiny speakers and a drum track. To Berman, it was as if the city's people were saying, "We can rise again. We come from ruins, but we are not ruined."
Such has been the saga of New York, whose struggles to build and rebuild itself will be chronicled Sunday and Monday in the long-awaited conclusion of Ric Burns' seven-part "American Experience" special on the city. The first five episodes aired in late 1999.
Sunday's episode, "City of Tomorrow," spans the 1929 stock market crash, the Depression and the promise of a chrome-plated future built around the car. The finale, "The City and the World," tracks postwar New York through the end of the 20th century.