Season One teaser trailer

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.

“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.