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Mars Plater

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I am a historian who studies what low-income New Yorkers did for fun, outdoors, during the nineteenth century. In this era of staggering inequality, working-class and impoverished people and people of color often lived with pollution and environmental hazards that wealthier and whiter urbanites were increasingly able to avoid. My research considers ways that the most vulnerable New Yorkers used their limited free time to escape to environments that contrasted with their daily conditions. I follow the city's workers as they walked to public parks in their neighborhoods, took ferries and streetcars to beer gardens and pleasure grounds, and boarded steamboats headed to waterfront excursion groves. By recovering these sites and how urbanites enjoyed and defended them, I am working to broaden the story of nature's role in human life.

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