This month marks 10 years since we embarked on this journey to start a tour company with a social mission committed to supporting nonproft partners and helping them build capacity to welcome the public. The last two years have been the most challenging yet, but as we launch into our second decade, we are so thankful for all the friends, colleagues, and collaborators who have helped us get this far. To say thank you for all of your support through the years, we would love for you to come out and celebrate with us! We will be hosting a happy hour at Transmitter Brewing in the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Thursday, May 26 at 5pm.
Please note that this event was originally scheduled for Thursday, May 12, but due to a family emergency (everyone is doing okay now), we had to reschedule to May 26.
Public parks are an essential part of life in urban areas. The Covid-19 pandemic illuminated just how important sites of nature, fresh air, and recreation are in crowded New York City. In Brooklyn, Prospect Park is often referred to as “Brooklyn’s backyard,” and the park has seen historic levels of usage in the past couple of years. This Chancellor’s Day, Brooklyn Public Library’s Center for Brooklyn History invites education professionals to experience the park’s history and natural splendor while reflecting on the ways Brooklyn’s backyard has evolved to meet the needs of a diverse public. First, we’ll hear from author Justin Martin, author of Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, about the origins of the park and the ideals that inspired its designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Then, we’ll be joined by Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson, President and Vice President of Turnstile Tours & Studio, who will lead attendees on a walking tour of some of Prospect Park’s fascinating landmarks and illuminate ways the park has changed since the time of Olmsted and Vaux. CBH educators will model lesson plans utilizing fascinating archival sources from our world-renowned collections. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of how public space changes over time, methods to incorporate primary source material into classroom settings, and the restorative feeling that comes with a day spent amongst the trees. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Proof of Covid-19 vaccination and face masks are required. Attendees are eligible for 5 Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credits.
For the past month, teams have been exploring New York City completing scavenger hunt challenges all about street vending. With over 100 teams competing, it has been an intense race, as teams had to complete 40 challenges while also raising money for the Street Vendor Project. Join us for our closing ceremonies as we look at some of the highlights of the competition, and most importantly, announce the winners and award prizes in these categories:
Scavenger Hunt Champion – Cloudy with a Chance of Matzah Balls
Scavenger Hunt Runner-Up – Eat Something New in Queens
Vendor Power Spirit Award – Bones Day
Fundraising Champion – Cloudy with a Chance of Matzah Balls
To celebrate Brooklyn Battle Week, take a virtual walk through Prospect Park and follow the battle lines of the largest engagement of the Revolutionary War. We will see see where American forces tried unsuccessfully to stop the British advance at Battle Pass, follow the path some used to escape to join the main battle in Gowanus, and visit the many Revolutionary War monuments in the park, including Daniel Chester French’s sculpture to the Marquis de Lafayette and Stanford White’s memorial to the 1st Maryland Regiment.
Built in 1874, the Concert Grove Pavilion is a stunning example of Prospect Park co-designer Calvert Vaux’ colorful and decorative style. Earlier this year, the Prospect Park Alliance completed a $2 million restoration of the pavilion, which was last restored in 1988. Joined by Prospect Park Alliance Assistant Architect Sheena Enriquez, we will look closely at the pavilion’s beautiful details, including its cast iron columns that contain motifs borrowed from Hindu, Chinese, Moorish, and Egyptian architecture, its elaborate roof finials and eaves, and its newly-illuminated stained glass ceiling. Sheena will share how the restoration team did extensive archival research, conducted color testing to match the pavilion’s original design, and repaired and recreated damaged or missing pieces.
The formal education of Black New Yorkers began with the Manumission Society’s African Free Schools, which first opened in 1787. Though the city was at the forefront of Black education, it would take decades to break down barriers to higher education, and schools, students, teachers, and benefactors were under threat of racial violence. This virtual program will examine the early history of Black schools in the city and neighboring Brooklyn, and the impact the evolving political discourse – and violence – around slavery had on them. This discussion will be hosted not in New York, but near the small town of Canaan, New Hampshire, which was the site of a horrific act of racial violence in 1835: the destruction of the Noyes Academy, the first racially-integrated college preparatory school in the country.
As we approach New York City’s primary elections on June 22, housing, as always, is a key issue on the ballot. So we are looking back at the history of social housing in New York – not just the city’s vast NYCHA public housing system, but also other forms of government and philanthropic intervention that have tried to tame the beast of unsafe, unsanitary, and unaffordable housing over the past 100+ years. This program will look at examples of model housing designed by social reformers, landmark cooperatives built by labor unions and community groups, the rise of public housing beginning in the 1930s, and public subsidies for private developments. This wide-ranging examination will take us from the Home and Tower Buildings to the First Houses, from Stuy-Town to the housing lottery.
On May 22, 1819, Savannah departed its namesake harbor bound for Liverpool on the first transoceanic voyage by a steamship. The mark this historic event, each year we celebrate National Maritime Day to recognize the contributions of the maritime industry and country’s working waterfront. Join us for a an evening of nautical trivia, about New York Harbor and beyond, from the 18th century to the present day. Presented by our maritime mavens Stefan D-W and Andrew Gustafson, we will also be joined by some special waterfront guests.
Running from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River cuts through the heart of New England. And for a period of about 40 years, a concerted effort was made to turn the rather wild and narrow river into a transportation superhighway to rival the Hudson. Between 1792 and 1835, seven canals were built to circumvent rapids, with the dream of making the river navigable as far as Barnet, Vermont, 280 miles from the Sound. In this virtual program, Andrew Gustafson, who has paddled most of the river by canoe, will trace the history of engineering and navigation, why the effort ultimately failed, and where this disused infrastructure can still be seen today.