exhibit banner home about resources

Disaster has plagued New York City throughout its long history. This online exhibit explores some of the epochal natural and human-made upheavals that have challenged New Yorkers and changed the city over the past two centuries

Fires, epidemics, riots, and storms robbed thousands of New Yorkers of their lives and livelihoods, and shook citizens' confidence in their own and their city's future, often costing the city countless millions of dollars. Whether acts of nature or the result of human intention, greed, or error, the ways these cataclysms unfolded profoundly affected the city's development. Looking back at disasters can tell us a lot about how the city's diverse communities, turbulent politics, and complex physical infrastructure evolved over the past two centuries.