Classes, Lectures, Tours


“I link your ordinary experience – what you see, hear and feel – with the history of New York, the nation and the world.”

Peter Laskowich: Historian, Lecturer and Guide

Classes, Lectures & Tours

Capital of the World

New York as focus of world affairs

Every city is unique. What distinguishes New York is the profound presence of world trade – like no other place in history, the world trades in New York City. 

New York Before the Europeans

The resources that made New York great

New York represents history’s greatest collection of money, drive, and know-how. Why New York?

Dutch New York

What did our first Europeans find? What did they do with it and how does it matter?

Among history’s great commercial powers are the 17th Century Dutch, New York’s first European residents. The Dutch left the area 350 years ago but their physical imprint remains an active influence in Lower Manhattan, their world-view an indelible part of New York City.

New York During the Revolution

New York’s role in defeating the British and creating a new nation

The American Revolution is a story of such daring and courage that it is still invoked everywhere. Every day New Yorkers pass by remnants of its desperation and its glory: damage caused by inspired patriots, a final remaining symbol of British authority, traces that led to the hanging of a schoolteacher who regretted only that he had but one life to give.

The Great Seaport

Reading history through an old but thriving neighborhood

A vast harbor and a magnificent coincidence of geology made New York uniquely qualified to handle world commerce during the first decades of national existence. New York then led the drive into the American interior with the project that opened the Midwest and transformed the young nation.

Gateway: The Immigrants

Doorway to the new world

New York is mother of exiles.

Forty percent of all Americans today trace their lineage through Ellis Island. Of the 12 million who came through, one-third remained in New York City. Why did they come? What did they find? How did they make it?

Chelsea – the New York of a Century Ago

Remnant of another age

Quiet, leafy streets and remainders from times gone by mark Chelsea as among the oldest yet best preserved neighborhoods of New York.

The High Line

A relic reimagined invigorates the Far West Side

What do you do with a beat-up old rail line? In New York you turn it into a brilliantly-executed municipal park.

Features of Grand Central Terminal

Centerpiece of the modern city

Grand Central Terminal is a masterpiece of engineering and design as well as of architecture. It stands as one of the great buildings of the world.

Hidden in Plain Sight: History Through Midtown Manhattan

Clues to the past hidden in plain sight

History is everywhere: in dull textbooks, yes, but also in the bend in a road, shape of a building and site of a church. Hidden in plain sight and scattered all over are clues that tell of life gone by.

History Through Street Names

Street names tell who we are

Symbols explain us to ourselves. More than mere labels, street names are also symbols that reflect values as well as personalities and events. What traits do we honor and admire? How do such choices affect our decisions today?

The Emerging (Late 1800s) City

19th-Century New York on its way to a new age

Lower Manhattan is a great display of various eras, a sort of outdoor museum that shows a nineteenth-century city becoming an international center.

Deciphering Manhattan

Patterns of behavior and development explain New York

New York does make sense! Well, sometimes. Any town, village or city offers clues that enable us to make sense of that place. The bend in a road, shape of a building or site of a church can say something of what we once were, and have become.

Upper Fifth Avenue

The growth of the Middle Road from shacks to mansions

By the mid-1800s Fifth Avenue had become the focus of American wealth and privilege. It remains the major beneficiary of Manhattan’s grid plan and is central to an understanding of New York.

A Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

A view from above

The Brooklyn Bridge began New York’s age of heroic construction and is essential to an understanding of local history and culture.



Harlem’s main drag and a few side streets provide compelling outlines of American culture today.


NY 9/11

The characteristic response of this wounded city – so courageous and defiant – became the pride of the nation and will stand as its legacy always.


Lost New York

The look but not the feel of the city as altered since the late 1800s.


42nd Street River-to-River

New York’s many faces as visible along one great thoroughfare.


Brooklyn and the Outer Boroughs

Brooklyn’s distinctive past, in particular through its relationship with Manhattan.


New York At the Movies

Hollywood’s view of New York is always entertaining, sometimes enlightening.

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