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Mars Plater


Research and Teaching Fields:

Environmental history; urban history; nineteenth and twentieth-century U.S. history; New York City; immigration; whiteness; the histories of science, technology, environment, and health.


Current Employment:

Assistant Professor. History Department, University of Connecticut-Stamford, 2022-



Ph.D., History, Rutgers University, September 2020

Dissertation: “Escaping Gotham: Working People and the Nineteenth-Century Struggle over Urban Nature.”

Committee: Ann Fabian (co-chair), Neil Maher (co-chair), Jamie Pietruska, and Michael Rawson (Brooklyn College)


M.A., History, Brooklyn College, 2013

Thesis: “Shades of Green: Competing Nature Cultures in 19th-Century New York City”

Advisor: Michael Rawson


B.A., Environmental Studies and Human Rights, Bard College, 2008

Senior Project: “‘A Lily-White Achilles Heel’: Challenges to Institutionalized Racism in the Mainstream Environmental Movement”

Advisor: Mark Lindeman

Fellowships & Awards:                                                                                                       


American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 2022-2023

Michael Katz Award for Best Dissertation in Urban History, co-winner, 2022


Scholar-in-Residence, American Antiquarian Society, 2023 


Dissertation Fellowship, Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, 2019

Warren and Beatrice Susman Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Rutgers University, 2019-2010

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship in Museum Education, Museum of the City of New York, 2017-2018 


Exploratory Grant, Hagley Museum and Library, 2017


Neal Ira Rosenthal History Travel Award, Rutgers University, 2016


Teaching Assistant Professional Development Fund Award, Rutgers University, 2014, 2015, and 2017


Graduate Fellowship, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, 2014-15


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Summer Research Fellowship, Rutgers University, 2014


John Hope Franklin Memorial Prize, Brooklyn College, 2013


William and George W. Stidstone Graduate Prize in History, Brooklyn College, 2013


Dean’s List Scholarship, Brooklyn College, 2012 and 2013


Alice P. Doyle Prize in Environmental Studies, Bard College, 2008



“Making Tompkins Square Park,” in Landscapes in the Making, eds. Dell Upton and Stephen Daniels (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, forthcoming 2025).

"Tonic for Body or Soul: Fresh Air for Poor Children in Progressive-Era New York City," Journal of Urban History (Summer 2021)


Review of “Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice” exhibition by the Humanities Action Lab in The Journal of American History (Spring 2020)


Review of Tobin Miller Shearer, Two Weeks Every Summer: Fresh Air Children and the Problem of Race in America in The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth (Spring 2018)



Presenter. “The Other Kind of Camp: Queer History as Environmental History Roundtable,” American Society for Environmental History Conference, Denver, CO, April 2024.


Presenter. “Conservationist Conflicts in the Americas,” American Historical Association Conference, San Francisco, CA, January 2024. 


Presenter and Panel Organizer. “Parks and Policing,” Urban History Association Biennial Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, October 2023.


Presenter “Centering the Periphery: Environment and Inequity at the Metropolitan Scale,” Urban History Association Biennial Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, October 2023.


Presenter and Participant. “Commons to Parks.” Common Pool Resources in the Visual Turn Summer School, European Society for Environmental History Conference, Switzerland, August 2023.


Presenter. “The Poor People’s Park: An Environmental Justice Backstory in Nineteenth-Century New York.” Environmental Justice in U.S. History, Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Netherlands, October 2022.


Presenter. “Making Tompkins Square Park.” Landscapes in the Making Symposium, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, May 2022.


Presenter. “Gardens of Pleasure and Health: Finding Fresh Air in Working-Class Antebellum NYC.” American Society for Environmental History Conference, Eugene, OR, March 2022.


Presenter and Panel Co-Organizer. “Defending the ‘poor man’s park:’ Cross-Class Environmental Activism in New York City, 1876-1892.” American Society for Environmental History, Columbus, Ohio, April 2019.


Presenter. “Protecting the Poor People's Parks: Working-Class Environmental Advocacy at the Battery and Tompkins Square, 1876-1892.” Columbia Environmental History Seminar, November 2018.


Presenter. “‘Don’t want them eny more’: Tensions in New York City’s Recreational Hinterland, 1868-1910.” European Association for Urban History Conference, Rome, Italy, August 2018.


Presenter and Panel Co-organizer. “Eroticism and Outrages at the Elysian Fields, 1830-1898.” American Society for Environmental History Conference, Riverside, CA, March 2018.


Presenter. “Turtlegusters and Loafers: Classed Struggles over Recreational Space in Nineteenth-Century Hoboken.” New Jersey Historical Commission, November 2016.


Presenter. “Dreams of Elysian Fields: Struggles over Manhattan’s Recreational Hinterland.” Agricultural History Society Conference, Briarcliff Manor, NY, June 2016.


Participant. “Competing Cultures of Outdoor Recreation in Nineteenth-Century Hoboken.” Center for Culture, History, and Environment Workshop University of Wisconsin, March 2016.


Past Teaching                                                                                                                                             

Instructor. “Global Environmental History,” CUNY-Queens College, Summer 2022.


Visiting Assistant Professor. “Race and the Environment,” “History of the Environment,” “EnvironmentalismS,” “Parks and Peoples,” History Department, Dickinson College, Fall 2021-Spring 2022.


Instructor. “Open to the Public?: The History of New York City Parks,” Bard MicroCollege, Spring 2021.


Instructor. “History of the United States since 1865,” Rutgers University-Newark, Spring 2017.


Teaching Assistant. “The Development of the United States II,” (Jamie Pietruska) Rutgers University, 2015. 


Teaching Assistant. “Sexuality in America,” (Rachel Devlin) Rutgers University, 2014.


Facilitator. College Preparatory and GED classes, Bard Prison Initiative at Beacon, Woodbourne, and Eastern Correctional Facilities, 2005-2008.


Public Writing                                                                                                                              

“Segregation in Stamford.” Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America Project, Fall 2022.


“Steamboat Excursions in the Era of Chinese Exclusion.” Hudson River Maritime Museum Blog, October 2020.


Stretching to Understand Renegade Urban Fireworks.” The Metropole: The Official Blog of the Urban History Association, September 2020. 


“Refuges from Racism along the Hudson River.” Hudson River Maritime Museum Blog, August 2020. 


“Centuries of Protest at City Hall Park.” History News Network, July 2020. 


“NYC Parks as Historical Battlegrounds Between Black Equality and White Supremacy.” The Gotham Center for New York City History, June 2020.


The Floating Hospital History Blog, 2014-2015.


Public Teaching                                                                                                

Instructor. “The History of NYC Parks.” Older Adult Programming, Queens Public Library, Summer 2022.


Instructor. “Green Apple: an Environmental History of NYC.” GothamEd, Gotham Center, Spring 2021.


Podcast interviewee. “The 3P’s of Parks: Partying, Peddling, and Protesting in 19th-Century New York,” Everyday Environmentalism Podcast, July 2021.


Podcast interviewee. “Steamboat Excursions on the Hudson for Chinese Americans,” Mariner’s Mirror Podcast, February 2021.


Instructor and Curriculum Developer. The Concord Review History Camp for Middle Schoolers, The Concord Review, Summer 2019.


Instructor. “Open to the Public?: Parks in 19th-Century NYC,” MCNY Saturday Academy, Spring 2019.


Curriculum Developer. “A People’s History of the High Line Field Trip Guide,” High Line Park, Friends of the High Line, Summer 2018.


Lecturer. “Merriment and Mayhem on the Hudson: Excursion Steamboats in the Nineteenth Century.” Hudson River Maritime Museum, August 2018.


Lecturer. “Defending Public Parks in Early NYC.” Museum of the City of New York, April 2018.


Lecturer. “Up at Dudley’s Grove: Nineteenth-Century Steamboat Excursions to Hastings-on-Hudson.” Hastings Historical Society, June 2018.


Lecturer. “Nature, Pleasure, and Mayhem: Nineteenth-Century Steamboat Excursions.” Palisades Interstate Park, May 2018.


Lecturer. “The People’s Boats: Nineteenth-Century Steamboat Excursions on the Hudson River.” Storybarge, SS Columbia Project, Kingston, NY, October 2017.


Podcast interviewee. “How Urban Workers Relaxed in the Nineteenth Century.” Stories from the Stacks, Hagley Museum and Library, October 2017.


Walking Tour Guide. “A People’s History of Central Park.” Fundraiser for Queer Elders, December 2015.



Member of the Award Committee. Urban History Association, Spring 2024.

Contributing Scholar, Hudson River Maritime Museum, Summer 2019-present.


Rutgers University

Co-chair of planning committee for the Workshop for the History of Environment, Agriculture, Technology, and Science (W.H.E.A.T.S.), 2015-2016.


Rutgers University

Co-organizer for the Interpreting American History Lecture Series, 2014-2016.


Work Experience:                                                                                                                


The Concord Review

Instructor, The Concord Review History Camp, Summer 2019.

Friends of the High Line

Researcher curriculum writer for K-8 field trip to the High Line Park in NYC, Summer 2018.


Dr. Jamie Pietruska

Research Assistant for digital humanities and public history project based on mapping weather forecasting stations between 1820 and 1891, May 2016-present.


Dr. Ann Fabian

Research Assistant for a presidential address to the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic on the topic of nineteenth-century naturalists, September 2014-May 2015.


The Floating Hospital

Lead blogger for a public history project on the organization’s past, July 2014-December 2015,


The Archives at the Museum of the City of New York

Manuscripts and Reference Intern, Summer 2012.


GRITtv with Laura Flanders

General Manager of daily news television program and assistant to its host, October 2010-July 2012.


American Civil Liberties Union, Racial Justice Program

Legal Assistant, 2008-2010.


New York Office of the Attorney General, Environmental Protection Bureau

Policy Analysis Intern, Fall 2006.


Urban Ecology Institute

Intern with the Greater Boston Urban Forestry Inventory Project, Summer 2006.

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