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About the event

This panel on architectural and public health policy responses to poverty and disease at the turn of the 20th century is part of a series of events developed around the forthcoming exhibition The Lung Block: A New York City Slum and Its Forgotten Italian Immigrant Community, on display at Department of Records building at 31 Chambers Street starting April 25, 2019, and in the vitrines of the Graduate Center, CUNY. The show draws upon Stefano Morello and Kerri Culhane’s recent scholarship examining the progressive narrative of the Lung Block as the slum-epicenter of disease, contrasting it with the lived experience of the majority Italian immigrant residents. Join Katherine LaGuardia, Steve Brier, Nancy Carnevale and others to discuss these issues.

The discourse surrounding the Lung Block illustrates a typical pattern of slum-making and gentrification, and in many ways typified the plight and perceived perils of the Lower East Side immigrant in the popular imagination. At this time – when anti-immigrant sentiment has been brought to the fore on the political stage; the very real connection between health and housing continues to be explored; and affordable housing and gentrification remain among the most contentious topics in local debate – the Lung Block story has many parallels in the present.  

Join us for this panel that explores themes that expand this important history to discuss:  

• The Lower East Side slum as a historical, social and architectural construct;

• The emergent field of public health and its response to disease;

• The progressive reform movement and its conflicted role in reinforcing and alleviating slum and worker conditions;

• The immigrant experience of the Lung Block, from the personal to the political,including the stories of Italian immigrant residents during the early twentieth century;

• Architectural and policy responses to poverty, disease and reform. 

Co-sponsored by New York City’s Department of Records, The Calandra Institute, and Queens College Makerspace.

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