About The Series

Airing on over 150 Public Television stations in 39 states, One Square Mile (OSM) is a documentary television series that portrays American culture from the perspective of distinct square miles across the US. Originating in Texas, the series has grown to include every corner of America, with a special focus on the Lone Star State. As a whole, the series is a microcosm of American life and a collective portrait of what it means to be American. The series represents the many faces and facets of America from the perspective of the individual while spanning the emotional, demographic and physical landscapes. This is a series about shared challenges and aspirations.  The square miles include urban, suburban and rural communities and neighborhoods from every corner of the America. 

The nine square miles featured in season one were selected from  suggestions submitted by PBS viewers and visitors to this website. If you know of a great square mile that should be in a future season, tell us about it.

Season One Trailer

Episode One


Barrow, Alaska is the northernmost town in North America. It sits at the edge of the Arctic Ocean and is reachable only by aircraft unless you are willing and able to drive the 500 mile ice road in the frozen winter months, or navigate by ship in the summer months. The community is resilient and thrives in the harsh climate and remoteness of the far Northern Slope. 

The climate is so severe that sewage must be heated to avoid freezing the pipes, and ice cream can be stored outside almost year-round.

The square mile of Barrow is the northernmost town in North America

Episode Two


The Fort Worth neighborhood of Lake Como is an island. Located in the predominantly affluent west side of Fort Worth, this community has been home to generations of African Americans. Many of the early residents moved here to work in the surrounding neighborhoods as domestic laborers.

In the generations that followed, Lake Como went through many changes, including desegregation, and gentrification.

 Lake Como community in Fort Worth, TX

Episode Three


The town of Smith Center, Kansas is a microcosm of small town life in America. Located at the center of the contiguous United States, Smith Center offers a glimpse into life in rural communities throughout the mid-west and beyond. 

The town itself is almost an exact square mile, and is home to approximately 1,663 residents. Like much of the rural mid-west, the town has a dwindling population.

Episode Four


There are 23 square miles in Manhattan. Each one tells a different story.

This square mile in lower Manhattan is home to over 66,880 residents. This square mile is a melting pot of cultural and economic diversity; within its borders are sections of: the Lower East Side, Bowery, Chinatown, Five Points, Nolita, Little Italy, SoHo, TriBeCa, Two Bridges, Civic Center and the Financial District.

The New York, NY square mile features parts of 11 neighborhoods and the site of the World Trade Center.

Episode Five


This square mile is located in Kennard, Texas in the middle of the Davy Crocket National Forest in deep East Texas. It is home to 275 people.

Largely dependent on the surrounding timber, Kennard is home to loggers, haulers, and small sawmills. The town’s largest employer is the school. Kennard has a diner, a donut shop, two gas stations, a bank, and a post office. The closest full size grocery store is 16 miles away in nearby Crockett, Texas.

Kennard is an island in a sea of pine trees.

Episode Six


This square mile is located on the north shore of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. The square mile includes the inner-most portion of Hanalei Bay and the small town of Hanalei. 

Hanalei is a crossroads for the northern part of the island. It is a square mile destination for locals as well as tourist. The north shore of Kauai is known as one of the best beaches in the world.

Episode Seven


This square mile is located the heart of the Crescent City. The square mile includes the neighborhoods of the Garden District and the Irish Channel. The inhabitants of this square mile are a varied mix of life-long residents, as well as post-Katrina transplants who have made New Orleans their new home. 

The roof tarps from Karina are still viable in the satellite image.

Episode Eight


This square mile is located in the City of Wilton Manors in Broward County, Florida. The city has approximately 12,000 residents. It ranks 1st in the US for its percentage of gay residents as a proportion of the total population. 

Wilton Manors has an openly gay mayor and a majority gay city council. The area is a microcosm of progressive America.

Wilton Manors is surrounded by the larger community of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Episode Nine


There are 271 square miles in Austin, Texas. Each one tells a different story. This square mile encompasses the northwestern edge of south central Austin and includes a portion of the Colorado River known as Lady Bird Lake and the Bouldin Creek and Zilker neighborhoods.

This square mile in Austin is at the heart of the South Austin culture.


“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.”John Steinbeck - Travels with Charlie: In Search of America

A Reflection of American Culture

OSM is a is a reflection on the past, a comment on the present and a time-capsule for future generations.  Season one of OSM documents eighty five stories from nine selected square miles across Texas.

"Texas is like the elephant the blind man examined. To the traveler who has seen its western extremes, Texas is mountainous desert. The passerby on the High Plains believes that Texas is very much like Kansas, a newly settled land of wheat fields. Pine trees, paper mills, and Confederate flags make East Texas look much like Mississippi, and on its southern boundaries, Texas seems to be a well-paved extension of northern Mexico. The naturalist regards Texas as a diverse assemblage of desert, wetland, and plains ecosystems, separated by geological shifts and escarpments. To rock climbers, Texas is a place of desert handholds; for teenagers, it's a cluster of amusement and theme parks. For new-music lovers, Austin is the Emerald City, and to television viewers worldwide, Dallas is the home of oil barons and wives with big hair. To space enthusiasts Houston is command central for the Space Shuttle.... Hollywood depicts Texas as Cowboyland, New York writes that Texas is a redoubt of bigots and gun nuts, and Washington gives Texas the greeter's job when Congress is making overtures to Mexico. Because most Texans know only a part of our state, we shrug our shoulders and wonder what Texas really is. With so many vast regions and sometimes contradictory images, it can't be any other way. Consensus is never reached, even among those natives who are widely traveled and widely read. So we all simplify, generalize, and jump to our own conclusions, making Texas mean something a little bit different to each of us."Mary G. Ramos & Dick J. Reavis - Compass American Guides: Texas

A Story as Big as Its’ Audience

Texas encompasses 268,820 square miles and if it were a country, it would be the 40th largest on the planet with a population equivalent to Canada. Texas is the fourth largest tourist destination in the US for cultural and historical travelers and has been inspiring singers, songwriters, historians, artists and general raconteurs since before its official inception in December of 1845.   Our culture must be documented as it is happening, lest it be lost or re-interpreted. This series provides a tangible link between where we have been and where we are going.  

One Square Mile and friends of the series are holding community screenings across the state of Texas featuring selections from the series, as well as a Q&A with the producers and/or participants. These screenings are coordinated through local PBS stations and community partners. 

Background for the series

One Square Mile is produced by filmmakers Carl and Elisabeth Crum. The series has been nominated for twelve Emmy awards, and has won three - including Best Magazine Series in 2011, and Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Documentary in 2010 and 2011.  After viewing One Square Mile in 2011, the Independent Television Service (ITVS) partnered with Carl & Elisabeth Crum to produce the PBS/ITVS documentary series Women & Girls Lead: Campaign Shorts. The filmmakers produced the series with PBS member stations across the US. For their first city, the filmmakers chose their hometown of Austin, Texas. While partnering with KLRU, the filmmakers filmed seven short documentaries in the style of One Square Mile. The now popular series has expanded, with the filmmakers producing similar shorts in cities across the US.