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Kenneth T. Jackson, Jacques Barzun Professor in History and the Social Sciences, Columbia University

Karen Markoe, Chair of Humanities Department, Maritime College, State University of New York


American cities are in crisis. Since the end of World War II, they have lost jobs, population, and energy to the burgeoning suburbs. In contrast, cities in Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia are generally thriving. Historically, Americans have not valued cities and city life, and so the current predicament of the great American metropolis is less the result of poor policy than the consequence of a culture with anti-urban traditions. In the nineteenth century, however, American cities were among the fastest growing in the world, and they boasted mass transportation, sewer and sanitation facilities, museums, universities, and open spaces equal to those anywhere in the world. This seminar will focus on the intersection of history and place in one tiny spot on the map with a major role in the history of our nation. In 1624, the Dutch West India Company set up a small trading post in a huge, sheltered harbor where three rivers met and several islands offered protection against potential enemies. Three hundred years later, this small settlement at the southern tip of the island of Manhattan has grown into the center of capitalism and the largest metropolis on earth.

Participants will be engaged and challenged intellectually, with myriad opportunities for exploring New York City history. Examining what has been for generations the business, financial, publishing, fashion, and cultural capital of the country will energize participants to reflect on American history and carry their knowledge and reflections into their classrooms.


Readings are sent by the Institute to participants of the seminar. Readings MAY include:

  • Freeman, Joshua B. Working Class New York: Life and Labor since World War II. New York: The New York Press, 2011.
  • Jackson, Kenneth T. , David Dunbar, eds. Empire City: New York Through the Centuries. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.
  • Wharton, Edith. The Age of Innocence. New York: Penguin Books, 1920.

Graduate Credit

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers. For more information click here.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

July 21st, 2013 5:00 PM   through   July 26th, 2013 5:00 PM
Columbia University
New York, NY 10025
United States

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Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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