The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

Gotham Center for NYC History – Fall 2014 Events

Fall 2014 Schedule

As usual, all our events are


Seating is “first come, first served”


All events take place at:

The Graduate Center

City University of New York

365 Fifth Ave., btw. 34th & 35th St.

Books will be available for purchase and signing by the authors.


For more information, call (212) 817 8471,
or visit


Urban Appetites:

Food and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York

Wednesday, September 17

6:30-8 PM
Elebash Recital Hall

Historian Cindy Lobel chronicles the emergence of Gotham’s food shops, restaurants, and food industries in the nineteenth century, taking readers on a lively tour of oyster cellars and fine dining establishments, public markets and corner groceries, brownstone dining rooms and tenement kitchens, Broadway houseware stores and Lower East side pushcarts. By the 1900’s, New Yorkers had access to the most diverse and abundant food supply in the nation. But as the city and its food became increasingly cosmopolitan, corruption, contamination, and inequity escalated.Urban Appetites shows how New York’s growth changed the way its people ate, and how the way New Yorkers ate changed the way the city grew.


New York’s Colored Orphan Asylum:

A History

Tuesday, October 7

6:30-8 PM
Martin E. Segal Theater

William Seraile discusses the history of the Colored Orphan Asylum, founded in 1836 as the nation’s first orphanage for African-American children. The agency weathered three wars, two major financial panics, a devastating fire during the 1863 Draft Riots, several epidemics, waves of racial prejudice, and severe financial difficulties to care for 15,000 orphaned, neglected, and delinquent children. Weaving together African-American history with a unique history of New York, this painstaking work spotlights an unsung institution and casts light onto its complex racial dynamics.


Film Screening:

“Radio Unnameable:

Bob Fass and the Rise of Free Expression on the Airwaves”

Wednesday, October 29

6:30-8 PM

Elebash Recital Hall


Legendary personality Bob Fass revolutionized late-night FM radio by serving as a cultural hub for music, politics, and audience participation for nearly 50 years. Long before today’s innovations in social media, Fass utilized the airwaves for mobilization, encouraging luminaries and ordinary listeners to talk openly and take the program in surprising directions. “Radio Unnameable” is a visual and aural collage that pulls from Bob Fass’s immense program archive, film, photographs, and video that has been sitting dormant until now.


Anna May Wong:

From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend

Thursday, November 6

6:30-8 PM
Skylight Room

Anna May Wong remains the ultimate Asian-American film star, having appeared in over fifty films with such legends as Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Ramon Navarro, Joan Crawford, Lon Chaney, Marlene Dietrich, Sessue Hayakawa, Werner Oland, and many others. Despite being forced to play degrading roles, Wong’s global fame crystallized the image of the Asian woman in the first half of the twentieth century. Join Graham Russell Gao Hodges for a brief introduction to her life, focusing on her stage and vaudeville career, and her innumerable friendships among New York’s intellectual and artistic communities.


“A Vast and Fiendish Plot”:

The Confederate Attack on New York City

Wednesday, November 19

6:30-8 PM

Martin E. Segal Theater


One hundred and fifty years ago, Manhattan was almost wiped from the map in what could have been the worst terrorist attack in world history when eight Confederate officers failed miserably to burn down the city on November 25, 1864. Had they scouted better targets, or made better use of the chemical weapons they carried, firefighters would have been overwhelmed and hundreds of thousands would have burned to death. Come hear the true story of how New York ignored clear warnings from the federal government about the impending attack, and how local, state, and national politicians may have aided the Confederates in the attack.
Reds at the Blackboard:

Communism, Civil Rights and the NYC Teachers Union

Tuesday, December 9

6:30-8 PM
Elebash Recital Hall

The New York City Teachers Union bears a deep history with the American Left, having participated in some of its most explosive battles. Historian Clarence Taylor recounts the pivotal relationship and the backlash it created, as the union threw its support behind social protest movements. Taylor’s research reaffirms the union’s close ties with the U.S. Communist Party, yet also makes clear that the organization was anything but a puppet.Reds at the Blackboardshowcases the rise of a unique type of unionism that would later dominate the organizational efforts behind civil rights, academic freedom, and the empowerment of blacks and Latinos.

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