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Gotham Center In the News - New York Times April 4, 2001

Batman-Style Logo For the Real Gotham

"Sport fans get tons of attention, but history fans don't get no respect."

Those fighting words are from Mike Wallace, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898," about the number of Web sites devoted to city history compared to sites that discuss how much money the Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez earns per swinging strike.

Mr. Wallace, director of the Gotham Center for New York [City] History, a nonprofit public education program at the City University of New York Graduate Center, wanted to help repair that imbalance. So staff at the center created a Web site about New York history, www.gothamcenter.org, which was officially launched this month.

"We want to foster a virtual history community," he said, "where people can discuss films and books about the city's past, reflect on their own neighborhood's development over time and find out what historical events are happening around town."

The site's discussions are decorous, like a kaffeeklatsch at the Ethical Culture Society. But one offefed this classic gripe about Ric Burns's documentary on New York: "The attitude of the film was that evervthing important in New York happens in Manhattan, mostly south of 96th Street."

Visitors can ask questions about the city, and will sometimes be answered. They will also find a listing of events like a forum on Thursday on the history of jazz in New York and the first New York City History Festival in October.

Mr. Wallace said the center planned to add features such as a time line, curricula for teachers, a pop quiz, and historical documents, images, video and music.

WHAT YOU SEE The center's dramatic logo, a big G projected Batman-style on a skyscraper, next to an old-fashioned table of contents. Click on any line, and you will be led through a list of topics, ranging from segregation in Stuyvesant Town to a question about whether droves of Wall Street workers really jumped from their office windows after the 1929 stock market crash.

LINKS To a multitude of New York history Web sites, walking tours, archives, museums and historic sites and associations. Have questions about the newly uncovered Atlantic Avenue subway tunnel or demolished movie palaces? You'll find answers.

WHAT YOU GET An omnibus of information about the city's history.

JIM O'GRADY

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