NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge and The Gotham Center for New York City History invites you to a book talk for Names of New York: Discovering the City’s Past, Present, and Future Through its Place-Names featuring the author Joshua Jelly-Schapiro in conversation with Ross Perlin and Garnette Cadogan.
In place-names lie stories. That’s the truth that animates this fascinating journey through the names of New York City’s streets and parks, boroughs and bridges, playgrounds, and neighborhoods.
Exploring the power of naming to shape experience and our sense of place, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro traces the ways in which native Lenape, Dutch settlers, British invaders, and successive waves of immigrants have left their marks on the city’s map. He excavates the roots of many names, from Brooklyn to Harlem, that has gained iconic meaning worldwide. He meets the last living speakers of Lenape, visits the harbor’s forgotten islands, and lingers on street corners named for ballplayers and saints.
As recent arrivals continue to find new ways to make New York’s neighborhoods their own, the names that stick to the city’s streets function not only as portals to explore the past but also as a means to reimagine what is possible now.
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Joshua Jelly-Schapiro is a geographer and writer whose books include Island People: The Caribbean and the World and (with Rebecca Solnit) Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas. A regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, his work also appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Harper’s Magazine, among many other publications. He is a Scholar in Residence at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU, where he teaches.
Ross Perlin is a linguist and Co-Director of the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA). As a Gardiner Fellow at the Gotham Center, Ross is completing the first major linguistic history of New York City. The project builds on ten years of research by the ELA, and focuses on lesser-known languages in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as the surrounding metropolitan area (Long Island, Westchester, and New Jersey). The book opens with Lenape, explores multilingual New Amsterdam, looks at the stateless Europeans (Irish, Istrian, Jewish, Gottscheer, Pontic, and Rusyn, among others) who arrived in large numbers from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, and then focuses on the period after the 1965 Immigration Act, which brought newcomers from some of the world’s most linguistically diverse countries (including Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Indonesia, India, the Philippines).
Garnette Cadogan is the 2020-2021 Harry W. Porter, Jr. Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he is also a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. He was a Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Scholar at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU, and is currently a Senior Critic in the Sculpture Department at Yale School of Art. His current research and writing explores the promise and perils of urban life, the vitality and inequality of cities, and the challenges of pluralism.