If Chicago’s the Second City, New York is the first to be sure. So where does that leave Washington, D.C.? Without it, what would we be? But we’re not so concerned with prestige on this particular program as we are with what events, characters, considerations and compromises gave birth to these two superpowers of influence and, being based in Chicago as we are, naturally our own city is the measuring stick for comparing them both.
In hour one we are joined by Tom Lewis, professor emeritus, English at Skidmore College. He’s written extensively on the mid-Atlantic states and, for an aside, an absolutely superb history of our business of radio. In Washington: A History of Our National City, we learn of just what Washington the man had to overcome to give us a seat of government.
In hour two (begins at 49:02), Gerard Koeppel joins us. Koeppel is no stranger to radio himself, having a distinguished career with CBS in addition to historical writings on his city, New York. Today the basis for our broadcast is the shape of New York, that, to newcomers and tourists is a confounding street system. To New Yorkers it makes perfect sense, and here you’ll learn of the simple wisdom that gave birth to that system, and how that simplicity gave the city many of its problems yet many of the characteristics that are so endearing. If Washington D.C. is the seat of government, surely New York is the seat of finance. Milt knows it well, having spent many early years there. Koeppel gives us a fine history and backstory to the Big Apple with his latest, City on a Grid: How New York Became New York.