The History Forum showcases the best new work on New York City
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New York City Cartmen, 1667–1850
Thursday, May 9, 2013, 6:30-8 PM
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
Elebash Recital Hall
The cart men—unskilled workers who hauled goods on one horse carts—were perhaps the most important labor group in early American cities. Revised and re-issued in 2012, New York City Cartmen, 1667–1850(NYU Press) uncovers the forgotten world of one-horse cart drivers who monopolized the movement of private and commercial goods in New York City from 1667-1850. The cart men dominated the city streets while proving politically adept at preserving and institutionalizing their economic and racial control over this entry-level occupation. The cart men possessed a hard-nosed political awareness, and because they transported essential goods, they achieved a status in New York City far above their skills or financial worth. The cart men's culture and their relationship with New York's municipal government are the direct ancestors of the city's fabled taxicab drivers. This is a stirring street-level account of the growth of New York, growth made possible by the efforts of the cart men and other unskilled laborers.