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This seminar undertakes a wide-ranging consideration of the city—its history, functions, problems, and glories. Sessions are devoted to urban cultural and social history, and to the meaning of physical form and landscape of both American and world-wide cities. The heterogeneous nature of the seminar’s membership is reflected in the variety of subjects that the meetings address.

Lisa Keller

Paola Isabel Rodriguez

Meeting Schedule

11/01/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
The reinvention of cities-How the pandemic, remote work and persistent social problems will reshape urbanism, not only in core cities but in the expansion of quasi-urban options in suburbs, exurbs and small towns
Joel Kotkin, Chapman University

02/23/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM
Patchwork Apartheid: Private Race Restrictions and Segregation in the Urban Midwest, 1890-1950
Colin Gordon, University of Iowa


This project explores the scope, importance, and impact of private racial restrictions in five Midwestern counties. It seeks to evacuate the history of private restriction from local property records, and to understand those restrictions as a driver of both black-white residential segregation in the first half of the twentieth century, and durable racial and spatial inequalities that persist to the present day.