Feeding Gotham: A Social History of Urban Provisioning, 1780-1860


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation offers an integrated study of how New York’s rise as an Atlantic metropolis in the nineteenth century depended on structural changes in food provisioning and consumption. Analysis based on archival sources demonstrates how consumers, retailers, and city administrators reconstituted their city’s pre-modern, public-market system of provisioning, making it into a free-market model of private stores, while the informal economy of street vending also expanded. Given the vital role of food provisioning in sustaining urban growth, these transitions altered the city’s spatial development, reshaped daily routines and social inequalities in food consumption, and transformed social interactions in public space, ultimately, re-orienting New Yorkers' experience of their modernizing city.