"I strive to link your ordinary experience of New York – what you can see, hear and feel – with the history and culture of New York."

Peter Laskowich: Historian, Teacher & Guide
 
Classes, Lectures & Tours

Capital of the World


New York as focus of world affairs

Every city is unique. What distinguishes New York is the profound presence of world trade - like no other place in history, the world trades in New York City. It has led the nation and now the world in the fields of commerce, culture, finance, communications, politics.

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New York Before the Europeans


The resources that made New York great

New York represents history's greatest collection of money, drive, and know-how. Why New York?

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Early New York

What did our first Europeans find? What did they do with it and how does it matter?

Among history’s great commercial powers are the 17th Century Dutch, New York’s first European residents. The Dutch left the area 350 years ago but their physical imprint remains an active influence in lower Manhattan, their world-view an indelible part of New York City.

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Revolutionary New York


New York's role in defeating the British and creating a new nation

The American Revolution is a story of such daring and courage that it is still invoked everywhere. Every day New Yorkers pass by remnants of its desperation and its glory: damage caused by inspired patriots, a final remaining symbol of British authority, traces that led to the hanging of a schoolteacher who regretted that he had but one life to give.

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The Great Seaport


Reading history through an old but thriving neighborhood

A vast harbor and a magnificent coincidence of geology made New York uniquely qualified to handle world commerce during the first decades of national existence. New York then led the drive into the American interior with the project that opened the midwest and transformed the young nation..

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Gateway: The Immigrants


Doorway to the new world

New York is mother of exiles.

Nearly half of all Americans today trace their lineage through Ellis Island. Of the 12 million who came through, one-third remained in New York City. Why did they come? What did they find? How did they make it?

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Chelsea - the New York of a Century Ago


Remnant of another age

Quiet, leafy streets and remainders from times gone by mark Chelsea as among the oldest yet best preserved neighborhoods of New York.

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The High Line


A relic reimagined invigorates the Far West Side

What do you do with a beat-up old rail line? In New York you turn it into a brilliantly-executed municipal park.

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Features of Grand Central Terminal


Centerpiece of the modern city

Grand Central Terminal is a masterpiece of engineering and design as well as of architecture. It stands as one of the great buildings of the world.

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Hidden in Plain Sight: History Through Midtown Manhattan


Clues to the past hidden in plain sight

History is everywhere: in dull textbooks, yes, but also in the bend in a road, shape of a building and site of a church. Hidden in plain sight and scattered all over are clues that tell of life gone by.

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History Through Street Names


Street names tell who we are

Symbols explain us to ourselves. More than mere labels, street names are also symbols that reflect values as well as personalities and events. What traits do we honor and admire? How do such choices affect our decisions today?

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The Emerging City - New York in the 1800s


19th-Century New York on its way to a new age

Lower Manhattan is a great display of various eras, a sort of outdoor museum that shows a nineteenth-century city becoming an international center.

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Deciphering Manhattan

Patterns of behavior and development explain New York

New York does make sense! Well, sometimes. Any town, village or city offers clues that enable us to make sense of that place. The bend in a road, shape of a building or site of a church can say something of what we once were, and have become.

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Upper Fifth Avenue


The growth of the Middle Road from shacks to mansions

By the mid-1800s Fifth Avenue had become the focus of American wealth and privilege. It remains the major beneficiary of Manhattan's grid plan and is central to an understanding of New York.

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A Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge


A view from above

The Brooklyn Bridge is fundamental to an understanding of New York. Through its "why" and "how" we read, for example:

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Video - Deciphering Manhattan

Video - Geography Is Destiny

ADDITIONAL PRESENTATIONS

Harlem - A few side-streets and Harlem's main drag provide strong outlines of American life today.
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42nd Street River-to-River - New York's many faces as visible along one great thoroughfare.
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NY 9/11 - The characteristic response of this wounded city – so courageous and defiant – became the pride of the nation and will stand as its legacy always.
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Brooklyn and the Outer Boroughs - Brooklyn's distinctive past, in particular through its relationship with Manhattan.
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Lost New York - The look but not the feel of the city as altered since the late 1800s.
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New York At the Movies - Hollywood's view of New York is always entertaining, sometimes enlightening.
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