Back to Black(well’s): A Book Talk
Join us on Roosevelt Island, just steps from the ruin of James Renwick’s Small Pox Hospital, as Stacy Horn, author of Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad and Criminal in 19th-Century New York, takes us into the area’s macabre past, sharing insight from her new book. From 1839, when the New York City Lunatic Asylum opened, to 1936 when Damnation Island was finally defunct, Roosevelt Island, then known as Blackwell’s, was home to a host of infamous institutions. We’ll find out how this sliver of land in the East River was filled with prisons, asylums, hospitals and almshouses, hear accounts of those who were held there, and learn how muckrakers and reformers from Charles Dickens to Nellie Bly helped expose the “naked ugliness and horror” of those institutions, beginning a reform movement for compassionate mental health care and social welfare that continues to this day. Further light on that positive shift will be shed by historian Judith Berdy, the President of the Roosevelt Island historical society, who will share the history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, and its benevolent founder, the Reverend William Glenney French. 
Wednesday, October 30th


6:00 p.m.
Chapel of the Good Shepherd
543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island


(Take the Queens-bound F train, or the tram from East 60th Street and 2nd Avenue)
Portions of the venue may not be fully accessible.
$15 FRIENDS and RIHS members, $25 non-members
To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526 
or email us at
The Central Park: New York’s Greatest 
Treasure Book Talk
Central Park might be the most famous and best loved example of pastoral landscape architecture in the United States, but for Upper East Siders, it’s also our brilliant backyard. If you’ve ever wondered how our extraordinary emerald oasis became a reality, be sure to join us for this illustrated book talk with art historian and New York City Municipal Archives conservator Cynthia Brenwall. Drawing on hundreds of previously-unpublished designs, notes, maps and materials from the NYC Municipal Archives, Ms. Brenwall’s new book, The Central Park: Original Designs for New York’s Greatest Treasure, offers a more complete understanding of the development and early history of Central Park than ever before. In this illustrated lecture, Brenwall will give us a lush look at the park’s creation, and show off early examples of Olmsted and Vaux’s extraordinary vision.




Thursday, November 7th
6:00 p.m.
Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium
417 East 61st Street


This venue is accessible.
$15 for FRIENDS and CDA Members, $25 for Non-Members 
To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526 
or email us at
Into the Light: A Tour of the 
Modulightor Building
Photo: Anne Broder, Archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation
The Modern architect Paul Rudolph once said that architecture was like music. Fittingly, in his Modulightor Building at 246 East 58th Street, Rudolph created a symphony of light, achieving a harmonious balance of “intricately interwoven spaces.” FRIENDS and The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation invite you to visit the Rudolph-designed Duplex within the Modulightor Building – a set of luminous spaces that are visually & spatially rich, showing Rudolph’s mastery of interior architecture. Paul Rudolph co-founded the Modulightor lighting design company to create the kind of lighting he needed to compliment his own work – and then designed its glowing headquarters in the design district of mid-town Manhattan: a masterwork of high Modernism, embracing compositional complexity and layered space—while also supporting multiple functions. Explore the Duplex’s unique spaces – furnished with unique furniture designed by Rudolph as well as many items from his personal collections.
Thursday, November 21st
6:30 p.m.
The Modulightor Building
246 East 58th Street


Portions of the venue are not accessible.
$15 for FRIENDS Members, $25 for Non-Members 
To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526 
or email us at


These programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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