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Cultural History of NYC, Part I: From Mannahatta to the Gilded Age   

Starting out as “Mannahatta,” a bountiful Native American hunting and fishing ground, the island at the mouth of the Hudson has gone from the small commercial venture of Dutch New Amsterdam to the rough and tumble of British colonial New York, to a brief stint as Federal capital of the United States, to its more enduring role as cultural and economic engine of “the capital of capitalism.” The course will explore the great public and private projects that define its character: the grid plan of the city streets, the Erie Canal, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. Members will encounter the notorious Five Points slum and reflect on the tensions and contradictions of the Civil War Draft Riots, concluding with an overview of the splendid arts of New York's "Gilded Age" and the sobering story of How the Other Half Lived.