The following is a list of possibe research topics related to New York City, which may be investigated by using the resources of St. John's University Libraries. For assistance on researching any of these questions, visit the reference desk of your local library, or Ask Us!
Discuss the dramatic changes brought about in New York as a result of the Revolutionary War. How did these changes pave the way for modern New York?
Discuss the ways in which New York helped to facilitate American economic freedom in the 1800’s.
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
What role did the AME Zion Church play in the abolitionist movement?
The AIDS epidemic effected blacks and other minorities in New York City far more than it did the majority white population. What are the reasons for this?
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the South Bronx became synonymous with “urban blight”, as the area was afflicted with population decline, high crime, unemployment, and dilapidation. By the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, however, the area began to recover, and in 1997 received the All-America City Award from the National Civic League in recognition of its dramatic turnaround. What are the main causes of the decline and subsequent renewal of the South Bronx?
The Civil War
What effect did the Civil War have on New York’s economy, especially its commercial and manufacturing sectors?
What were the major causes of the draft riots, in 1863?
Proponents of charter school argue that they are a remedy for failing public school systems, and that they offer educators a more flexible work environment where they can more effectively meet the needs of students. Opponents of charter schools argue that they are an unnecessary distraction from public school reform, that they do not provide better education, and that they undermine teachers’ unions, contributing to work stress in a profession that already suffers from a high level of burnout. Based on evidence from New York City, which of these positions is closer to the truth?
J.P. Morgan is described by some as the most important of the “Captains of Industry” in the late 19th Century. How was Morgan able to transform his bank into a “global powerhouse”
What factors led to the stock market crash of 1929?
Mayor Giuliani (1993-2001) is widely credited with “cleaning up” New York City by reducing crime, poverty, homelessness, and other social ills. To what extent is this portrayal correct? Does Giuliani deserve full credit, or were other factors, such as economics and demographics, at work?
Professor Tomes observes that the “Depression transformed New York’s position in American politics for the next four decades. New York quickly became the largest liberal state, with the city being its nerve center.” Discuss.
Harlem has been called “the capital of black America” and “a city within a city”. How was it that Harlem became home to such a large number of African Americans, and a focal point of African American culture?
Alain Locke believed that black artists must draw on African models to create uniquely black art, while others believed that the work of black artists was not inherently different from that of white artists. Compare and contrast the positions on this issue.
The Encyclopedia of New York observes that “W.E.B. Du Bois insisted that black writers had an obligation to be propagandists for their race; [Wallace] Thurman and others pursued Bohemian ideals that were largely divorced from race.” Explain.
Jane Jacobs became a vocal and articulate critic of New York City planning in the 1960’s, especially as it related to transportation and public housing. What was the basis of her criticisms? How effective was her opposition?
Who were the muckrakers? What type of journalism did they practice, and what were their objectives? How did their work relate to the progressive movement?
With the onset of prohibition in the 1920’s, organized crime became more sophisticated and powerful in New York City. Explain how organized crime in New York City changed during the period of prohibition.
How do you explain the decline in the power in the Mafia from the 1970’s onward?
Edward R. Murrow
Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly produced a television series called “see it now”, which some say contributed to the downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950’s. How large a role did Murrow play in McCarthy’s downfall, and how much was due to other factors? Explain.
Discuss the factors that lead to the racial and cultural diversity of New Amsterdam in the 1660’s under Dutch rule. What similar factors lead to the continuing diversity of the city under British rule in the early 1700’s?
In 1644, Peter Stuyvesant took over as governor of New Amsterdam. Discuss the role he played in the evolution of economics, infrastructure, and education in the city. Were the changes he brought all positive?
Public housing was used to clear slums and provide decent, low-income housing in New York City from the 1940’s onward. Were housing projects effective in performing this role? Describe the positive and negative effects of public housing in New York City.
What is “racial profiling”? Is it a problem in New York City? If so, what measures are being taken to address it, if any? What more could be done to address the problem?
The Seven Years War, 1754-1761
Discuss the importance of New York to the British during the Seven Years War (French and Indian War). How did this war effect New York’s economy?
The seventies are referred to as one of the most challenging and difficult decades that New York City ever faced. What factors made it so?
The Stonewall Riot in 1969 is widely credited with launching the gay rights movement. Discuss.
What factors led to the construction of the first elevated railroads and subways in New York City in the late 19th Century? Who were the first major advocates and leaders of subway construction? Why did they think subways were necessary for the city?
The New York City Subway system was first given public funding in 1894, prior to which elevated railways had been run by private companies. What factors lead New York City to embrace the use of public funds for such a project, instead of relying on private enterprise?
What were the original objectives of Tammany Hall, and whom did the organization serve? Why did the organization gain a reputation for corruption? Based on the available evidence, was Tammany Hall a positive or negative presence in New York City?
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
The Triangle fire of 1911 was an important catalyst for both labor organization and improved safety laws for workers. Describe the short and long-term effects of the Triangle Fire on labor activism and government regulation of labor standards.