Race, Riots, and the Right to Learn: Black Education in Antebellum New York | Episode 227

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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.

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Barnet or Bust: Canals on the Connecticut River | Episode 221

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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.

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Cass Gilbert’s New York: Skyscrapers to Supply Depots | Episode 165

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November 24 marks the 161st birthday of the famed architect Cass Gilbert, and to celebrate, we are taking a deep dive into his body of work in New York City. We will be joined by Helen Post Curry, Gilbert’s great-granddaughter, an expert on his life and work, and the founder of Woolworth Tours. Though born and raised in the Midwest, he rose to national prominence after moving to New York, where he built such landmarks as the Custom House, 90 West Street, the Woolworth Building, and of course, the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We will also discuss some of the less well-known buildings of his portfolio, including Brooklyn’s Austin, Nichols & Co. Building and a string of small railway stations in the Bronx, and his mastery of a wide diversity of styles that made him one of the most versatile architects of his era.

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