Seeing America

Work, exchange, and technology

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videos + essays

Over the next two years, this resource will grow to include 100 videos, 18 essays, quizzes, discussion questions and lesson plans.

“That’s the deal you gave us,” trade myths and native land
“That’s the deal you gave us,” trade myths and native land

Smith created this in 1992, responding to the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in North America.

Television nation—Nam June Paik’s <em>Electronic Superhighway</em>
Television nation—Nam June Paik’s Electronic Superhighway

The “father of video art” argued that electronic communication, not transportation, unites the modern world.

A Landmark Decision: Penn Station and architectural heritage
A Landmark Decision: Penn Station and architectural heritage

New York put growth ahead of all else, resulting in the loss of important historic buildings, like Penn Station.

Visions of the future, the 1939 New York World’s Fair
Visions of the future, the 1939 New York World’s Fair

The idea of “progress” was essential to the 1939 World’s Fair, and this glass chair was upending tradition.

The modern home: Russel Wright and the best-selling dinnerware of all time
The modern home: Russel Wright and the best-selling dinnerware of all time

Pour a little out for the proletariat: the Robin Hood of earthenware pitchers brought modern design to the people.

Skyscrapers, cars, and American ambition: The Chrysler Building
Skyscrapers, cars, and American ambition: The Chrysler Building

The Art Deco style of this skyscraper was urbane and luxurious—a swansong of glamor as the Great Depression hit.

Slums of New York: Jacob Riis and the Progressive era
Slums of New York: Jacob Riis and the Progressive era

Riis snapped photos of the urban poor during midnight police raids—but only because he cared.

Celebrating the spirit of American enterprise, <em>Bargaining for a Horse</em>
Celebrating the spirit of American enterprise, Bargaining for a Horse

Is there a political message behind this image of two farmers settling the price of a horse?

Mass Consumerism, Warhol, and 1960s America
Mass Consumerism, Warhol, and 1960s America

Warhol’s art celebrates the consumerism and advertising that inundated American culture in the 1960s.