Naming Gotham: The Stories Behind NYC’s Place Names

Naming Gotham: The Stories Behind NYC’s Place Names

Join author and Queens resident Rebecca Bratspies for a virtual talk that will reveal the hidden stories behind NYC’s most famous place names!

In this virtual talk you’ll discover:

  • How Peter Cooper, founder of Cooper Union, inspired the founding of other New York colleges, fought against slavery, ran for president, and invented JELL-O?
  • Why drunks, gamblers, and criminals marched through the Tenderloin chanting, “Well, Well, Well, Reform has gone to Hell” when Robert Van Wyck was elected mayor of New York City
  • When thousands of children picketing Bronx Borough President Henry Bruckner demanding that he reduce the cost of ice cream sodas
  • How Adam Clayton Powell Jr. got his name on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act after being punched in the face  during a House of Representatives debate
  • What Clifford Holland originally planned to use the Hudson River Vehicular Tunnel for

About the event:

Each day, millions of people “take” the Major Deegan, the Hutchinson Expressway, the Outerbridge Crossing, and the Holland Tunnel. Few travelers remember that, before these names became an urban shorthand for congestion, they were actual people. In Naming Gotham: The Villains, Rogues, and Heroes Behind New York’s Place Names her quirky take on New York City history, law professor Rebecca Bratspies uses the naming of New York City’s roads, bridges, and civic institutions as a unique window into urban social structure and the City’s ever-changing inhabitants. The lives of Revolutionary War heroes, robber barons and Tammany Hall politicos introduce readers to the outsized roles that power politics, corruption, and the slave economy played and continue to play in New York City.  In this virtual talk for Untapped New York Insiders, Bratspies will share some of her favorite and most entertaining tales from the book.

About Rebecca Bratspies

Rebecca Bratspies is a longtime resident of Astoria Queens. When not geeking out about New York City history, she is a Professor at CUNY School of Law. A scholar of environmental justice, and human rights, Rebecca has written scores of law review articles, four other books, including Environmental Justice: Law Policy and Regulation, and three environmental justice comic books Mayah’s Lot, Bina’s Plant, and Troop’s Run (w/ Charlie LaGreca-Velasco). She serves on NYC’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, and EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee, is a scholar with the Center for Progressive Reform and a member of the NYC Bar Environmental Committee. ABA-SEER honored her work with its Commitment to Diversity and Justice Award.

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