The History of New York City Real Estate offered a historical survey of the last four centuries of real estate development in New York City. It relied not only on existing sources, widely available and held by Columbia libraries, but also on material from the collection of Seymour Durst—a patriarch of one of New York City’s foremost real estate families and a passionate collector of New York City historical memorabilia. His collection was recently gifted to Avery Library, and is in the process of being transported, catalogued and distributed there.
The course covered the period from the original Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam in the early 1600’s through the present time. It was structured primarily as a series of lectures, the first half in chronological order, the second half loosely thematic with additional focus on specific case studies. When possible, original materials from the Durst Collection were reproduced and made available on Courseworks for students. Students were encouraged to use the materials at Avery for the purposes of their mid-term project. In addition, students took field trips to particular locations.