The Manhattan Street Grid Plan: Misconceptions and Corrections (a blog series)
By Gerard Koeppel with Jason M. Barr
It could be said that Aaron Burr, the baddest boy of early American democracy, is responsible for the famous Manhattan street grid. In a backhanded way — a way he surely would appreciate — he is.
But, like a perverse Madame de Pompadour, the deluge of orderly streets came after him, entirely without his input while he was laying low in Europe.
Clifton Hood's In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis
By Jason M. Barr and Gerard Koeppel
The Manhattan street grid plan of 1811 — both figuratively and literally — defines the city. It has created its identity while prompting continuing debate about whether it’s the “greatest grid” or “one of the worst city plans.” Despite the endless fascination after 200 years and counting, the grid’s history and its effect on Gotham are still not fully understood. We aim to correct the record. Here, we introduce some key misconceptions and their corrections; in eight monthly installments, we will discuss each one in more detail.
Sensibility and the Road: The Journal of Madame Knight and the Cultural Refinement of Eighteenth-Century New York
By Andrew L. Hargroder
The 1790s was a decade marked by conspiracy-mongering in the United States. Polarized visions over the republic’s future inspired a prevailing mood of both revolutionary optimism for humankind and abrasive paranoia. Countering these anxieties, middle- and working-class Americans formed fraternal and literary clubs designed to foster democratic comity and candor as a public discourse. Among New York’s clubs, a new class of citizen took form, which espoused a more inclusive understanding of rights and political engagement. That allowed non-elites, like Richard Bingham Davis, to contribute to the conversation over the republic’s future.
"Tontine Coffee House” (1797) by Francis Guy. Though this coffee house was a site of frequent political clashes between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans throughout the 1790s, it also provide a sense of NYC architecture and the city's lively streets at the time of Davis and the societies’ activities.
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independent and professional scholars of New York City
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"The Gotham Blotter" (2006-2015)
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