Fran Leadon: Broadway

Thursday April 19: 7:30PM 8:30PM

Buy a copy of Broadway or a $5 gift card in-store at the Strand's main floor registers or at the door to attend. This event will take place in the Rare Book Room on the Strand's 3rd floor, accessible via the stairs and elevator next door at 826 Broadway.

In the early seventeenth century, there was a town called New Amsterdam that had a wide, muddy cow path that the settlers called the Brede Wegh. As time went on and the street grew longer, houses and taverns began to be built alongside the path. Farmlands were sold and department stores, theaters, hotels, and apartments were constructed. The town expanded into a sprawling city. Everything changed, even the name. What had once been a small Dutch colony had grown into New York City, and with it Broadway.

Today, Broadway almost feels as though it’s existed since the created of the United States, and Fran Leadon has taken steps through the history of this iconic stretch of concrete. He has written this book about Broadway’s past, from the construction of Columbia University on the site of an insane asylum, to anecdotes about Alexander Hamilton, Emma Goldman, Edgar Allan Poe, John James Audubon and more, to the assorted real-estate speculators, impresarios, and politicians who helped turn Broadway into New York’s commercial and cultural spine. Fran examines the physical and social transformation of an avenue that has seen everything from parades to riots, and wealth to destitution. Glamorous, dynamic, and sometimes troubling, the evolution of this complex of steel and glass is the story of American progress.

Join us in the Rare Book Room as Fran, along with Ben Gibberd, journalist, New Yorker and author of New York Waters, discuss the Big Apple's most historic street!

Fran Leadon is an architect and coauthor of the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City. A native of Gainesville, Florida, he teaches at the City College of New York and lives in Brooklyn.

Ben Gibberd is a British writer and journalist who has lived in New York City for the past twenty-five years. He has written about the city for numerous publications, including Time Out New York and Time Out London magazines, where he wrote a “Dispatches from New York” column for several years. Between 2004 and 2009 he was a regular contributor to the New York Times’ Sunday City and Long Island sections with numerous cover stories, essays, profiles and features. In 2007, his book, New York Waters: Profiles From the Edge, about the men and women of New York’s working waterfront, was published by Globe Pequot Press.

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