The 11 Best Documentaries About New York

Sep 23, 2023 | Best Of, Geography, History

For lovers of the Big Apple, there is no shortage of documentaries about New York City. From exploring its iconic architecture to uncovering its hidden gems, these documentaries offer an in-depth look at NYC’s history and culture. Whether you are a fan of the city or want to learn more about it, here is a list of some of the best documentaries about New York. From award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns’ classic series, “New York: A Documentary Film” takes viewers on an expansive journey to the heart of the city. Featuring rare archival footage and interviews with prominent figures from both past and present, this documentary offers a sweeping view of New York City’s fascinating history.


1. New York USA. The largest city in the US

From the hustle and bustle of the city streets to the iconic skyline, New York City offers a unique experience unlike any other. But what is it really like living in this great metropolis? The best documentaries about New York explore all aspects of life in this vibrant city, from the highs and lows of its culture to the diversity that defines it. Through their lens, we are taken on a journey through the city’s history and culture, and gain insights into the people who call it home. With stories of inspiration, heartache and resilience, these films capture a portrait of a complex yet beautiful place that is impossible to forget.


2. We Built This City: New York, The City That Never Sleeps – New York, USA History Documentary

Experience the vibrant history of New York City, from its humble beginnings as a Dutch trading post to its transformation into a bustling metropolis. Explore the fascinating story behind the creation of Central Park and discover how New Yorkers boldly achieved their vision of connecting Manhattan’s harbor with Albany through an ambitious waterway project without federal aid. Trace the captivating history of one of America’s most iconic cities and learn how it has become the “City That Never Sleeps.”


3. New York City rich and poor — the inequality crisis

New York never fails to surprise its inhabitants, as well as visitors, with the contrast between its affluent and poverty-stricken neighborhoods. This stark difference has been further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet during these tumultuous times. The past months have seen protests for civil rights, presidential elections, and a strict lock down that has placed an economic strain on many. The inequality crisis between the rich and poor that New York faces is one of the most pressing issue facing the city today, a reality that documentaries seek to capture and illuminate.


4. Why Is New York The City That Never Sleeps? | The Greatest Cities in the World

This is a city unlike any other. It’s the City That Never Sleeps, New York, and it could be one of the greatest cities in the world. For centuries, this has been a place where people from all walks of life have come to pursue their dreams—and they’ve succeeded! From world-famous cab drivers to gospel singers, from inmates to window This is a city unlike any other. It’s the City That Never Sleeps, New York, and it could be one of the greatest cities in the world. For centuries, this has been a place where people from all walks of life have come to pursue their dreams—and they’ve succeeded!


5. Hells Kitchen: A New York Neighborhood |

Dive into the past of one of New York City’s most iconic neighborhoods with Hell’s Kitchen: A New York Neighborhood. This documentary captures a time capsule of this notorious part of town, made famous in numerous films for generations. Follow the stories that have unfolded over the years and experience what brought this area to life. See how its influence continues to shape the city today, as the same vibrant culture and personalities remain. From its humble beginnings as a place of conflict to its current status as one of the most diverse places in the city, explore how Hell’s Kitchen has become a unique part of New York City that attracts locals and tourists alike.


6. New York A Documentary Film S01E01 The Country and the City

New York is a city of contrasts that entices travelers to explore its diverse cultural heritage. The first episode of the documentary series New York A Documentary Film takes us on a journey from 1609, when Henry Hudson arrived in what was then a Dutch colony, to 1825, when the opening of the Erie Canal revolutionized transportation and commerce. From Native American settlements to cosmopolitan cities, we follow the development of New York State from a place of farms and small villages to an industrial powerhouse. Along the way, we meet vibrant characters who tell us their stories and share their unique perspectives on this ever-changing landscape.


7. The Chronicles of a New York Locksmith | Keys to the City

In Keys to the City, a leader in locksmithing passes on his legacy of craftsmanship and skill. With over 40 years of experience, this New York-based artisan is teaching his protégé the trade secrets he has uncovered. The journey through locksmithing takes them both from city streets to high security facilities, showing off the unique skillset that will be part of this young man’s future. Catch a glimpse into the fascinating and intricate art form that protects our most treasured possessions with The Chronicles of a New York Locksmith: Keys to the City. From keys to vaults, discover the world of locksmiths and their stories in this riveting documentary.


8. Shadow City: Homelessness in New York | Fault Lines

With more than 1.5 million homeless people in the United States, homelessness is an issue that affects all of us. Shadow City: Homelessness in New York and Fault Lines explore this pressing concern by examining how it manifests in America’s largest city — New York.Shadow City takes a close look at three individuals living on the streets, providing an intimate understanding of life as a homeless person. Fault Lines follows three different families in New York City who are all struggling to make it through the night without becoming one of the city’s forgotten homeless.


9. History of New York Documentary

This unique documentary takes a look back at the history of New York City from 1865 to 1898, offering inspiring insight into how far we’ve come since then. It delves into the state of the city during this period and features captivating images and engaging stories that demonstrate just how much has changed in such a short time. This is an essential watch for anyone interested in learning about the history of NYC, and a must-see for any fan of documentaries. It’s sure to leave you feeling inspired and amazed at the city’s incredible transformation over time.


10. New York in 1987

New York in 1987: An Interesting Glimpse Of The City 30 Years AgoIf you want to learn about the Big Apple of three decades ago, then there is no better way than through a documentary. New York in 1987 offers viewers an engaging look into what the city was like in that time frame. This documentary explores various aspects of life and culture during this era, such as the city’s nightlife and music scene. It also examines how the city has changed and evolved in the intervening years, allowing viewers to gain an important understanding of the history of New York. This documentary is sure to be a captivating experience for anyone who wants to learn more about this iconic city.


11. Megacities – New York

New York: A City of OpportunityIt’s no surprise that New York City has been the subject of countless films and documentaries. This vibrant metropolis is an ever-changing landscape, with amazing opportunities for those brave enough to pursue them. Megacities – New York is a documentary that takes viewers on a journey through this captivating city. The film explores the fascinating people and places that make up New York City, from its bustling streets to its iconic skyline. Through interviews with locals and experts, viewers get an inside look at the challenges and successes of living in such a large and diverse city.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B