New York through the years: Analyzing city streets

Claire Goldberg, Staff Writer

30 sixth graders will travel to the Lower Manhattan to take part in a walking tour covering the creation of New York this Saturday, May 4th. The trip fits with the sixth grade Museum project and also serve as a bridge between the sixth grade and seventh grade curriculum, while also being an extension to what the students have been learning in class about the history of New York.

The walking tour was planned by English teacher Isaac Brooks along with the sixth grade history teachers, who will be chaperoning the trips. They will begin at the Alexander Hamilton Customs House around 10am, and end at the African Burial Ground around 12pm. Students are encouraged to bring their parents or even their dogs on this trip, Brooks said.

“We talk about the different people who have transformed Manhattan, from the Native Lenape, to the Dutch, to people that were enslaved, and to Jews seeking sanctuary from the inquisition in South America,” Brooks said.

“It’s fun because you’ll be on a street that doesn’t look like much, but then the students learn about it and it comes alive,” history teacher Natalie Wiegand said. “The best thing about it is Mr. Brook’s storytelling. He paints the picture really well.”

Brooks selects three main stories to follow throughout the tour and utilizes them as a lens to answer the key question, “Who built this city that we know today?” he said.

“Their goal is to come back from the trip and connect it to their classroom learning,” Catherine Garrison, another chaperone, said. Students will also be encouraged to take photos on the trip to use for their project, but Garrison thinks that listening and absorbing it all is the best thing the teachers could hope for, she said.

The students chose this trip for a variety of reasons. “The reason I chose this trip was because it was the most practical for my schedule,” Alessandra Agopian (6) said. However, Rose Korff (6) will attend because it seemed like the walking tour would provide a variety of different thoughts on Dutch New Amsterdam and New York, she said. “I would like to learn more about individual people who lived in Lower Manhattan over time,” Korff said.

Carmen Zhang (6) is excited to see things she’s never noticed before, she said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the buildings and everything with my own eyes,” Blake Bennett (6) said. “I’m most excited about walking in the same areas that the Dutch walked in many centuries ago.”

Since students go on a variety of trips for the Museum project, the walking tour is an opportunity for the students to take what they learned on the trip and share it with the rest of their class who didn’t go, Garrison said.

“My class of 14 is going to a number of different places and the kids on the walking tour will be able to present to the other kids what their tour was like,” Garrison said. “They will make posters and presentations.”

In the past the walking tour was offered to seventh graders at the beginning of their year, rather than for the sixth graders. “It used to serve as a review for the seventh graders about what they learned the previous year, but it fits better now,” Garrison said.

She thinks that offering the trip as an extension of the school with chaperones rather than having it be an individual trip will make it more accessible for students, so more people can go, she said.

“It’s a great culminating activity at the end of the year to put together geography, people, and learning skills,” Brooks said.