Philadelphia: The Great Experiment

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The Story of Philadelphia

Philadelphia: The Great Experiment gives the following descriptive information:

Philadelphia: The Great Experiment is a multi-format historical documentary television film and Internet project that presents the story of Philadelphia, the single most compelling stage for the unfurling and testing of American ideals. William Penn’s city was the first in the world to codify freedom of religion, individual rights, trial by jury, and a democratic assembly as the pillars of a constitution amendable by the people.

The documentary’s 14 episodes, webisodes and interview shortcuts explore America’s first city from its pre-history and then across nearly four centuries, as the nation’s laboratory of ideas, a place of continuous innovation, exploration, and inquiry. A primary goal of the film is to give the viewer a better understanding of the origins and development of American ideas and ideals and the American character, through the lens of the Great Experiment.

It is also a crucial point in the history of participatory democracy in America. Vitally engaging civic projects such as this one are therefore necessary. The film acknowledges the fragile and contested nature of democracy and engages the viewer with ideas, people, and places. By attaching the ideas of democracy, freedom, and tolerance to the specific location of Philadelphia, the viewer engages with four centuries of history, finding new ways to understand the challenges facing America and its cities today.