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Matthew Spady’s new book The Neighborhood Manhattan Forgot: Audubon Park and the Families Who Shaped It (Fordham University Press, 2020) is the story of Audubon Park’s origins, maturation, and disappearance. The book is the study of a rural society evolving into an urban community, an examination of the relationship between people and the land they inhabit.
Beginning with the Audubon family’s return to America from abroad in 1839, The Neighborhood Manhattan Forgot follows the many twists and turns of the area’s path from forest to city, ending in the twenty-first century with the Audubon name repurposed in today’s historic district, a multi-ethnic, multi-racial urban neighborhood far removed from the homogeneous, Eurocentric Audubon Park suburb.
With a cast of characters drawn from nineteenth-century New York City, this fully illustrated history peels back the many layers of a rural society evolving into an urban community, enlivened by the people who propelled it forward: property owners, tenants, laborers, and servants.
Thoroughly researched through primary and secondary sources, as well as private collections, The Neighborhood Manhattan Forgot tells the story of how individual choices in the face of family dysfunction, economic crises, and technological developments pushed Audubon Park forward to the cityscape that distinguishes the neighborhood today.
Matthew Spady is a noted advocate for Audubon Park who leads walking tours of the neighborhood and nearby Trinity Cemetery, and is a regular speaker at events and in the media about the neighborhood.
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