First Day of Gilder Lehrman Institute’s: Empire City

I recetly posted that I have been honored this summer with the amazing opportunity to participate in the Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History’sEmpire City: New York from 1877-2001.” Today I arrived in New York City ready to begin my intellectual adventures.

I have been to New York many times, but not in more than a decade. In fact, the last time I was here was the summer of 2001. I have not been back since the tragedy of September 11, 2001 – at first I was unable to face head on the tragedy, but then I simply did not have the opportunity. I was excited to be back in the city although I’ll admit, as a lifelong resident of the West Coast and Southern United states, the lack of urban sprawl makes me a bit… claustrophobic.

Photo by Roger Wollstadt

For the first time I flew into New York’s La Guardia airport (I’ve always flown into Kennedy or Newark), named for former (and deceased) mayor Fiorello La Guardia (a rather vibrant subject of our preparatory research for this seminar). The most striking feature of the decent into the airport was the stunning view of the New York Skyline and the Statue of Liberty. It seemed a fitting introducing to the urban culture I would be studying for the next week.

Upon arriving at Columbia University, I met the esteemed Anthony Napoli, the Director of Education at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He handed me several thick packets, a free flash drive (yay free stuff), and the key to my dorm room – yes, dorm room. For the next week I’ll get to channel my inner 19 year old college student! At dinner, I met my esteemed colleagues from a variety of institutions all over the country. Tomorrow, we begin with “New York City and the Transformation of Post-Civil War America.” We will listen to a series of lectures on the transformation of the Empire City after 1865!


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