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Acropolis! Interactive Neighborhood Walking Tour of Morningside Heights

Saturday, March 23, 12-3pm (rain date 3/24)

Start: Riverside Drive & W111th Street, 12pm

End: Amsterdam Avenue & W111th Street, 3pm

Join us after the tour for a community forum, live music, and beverages


Morningside Heights community and student groups are collaborating to produce Acropolis!, a unique walking tour of their neighborhood aimed at enhancing awareness of local history, current issues, and ongoing community development efforts.

The immersive event will feature historical role players, live performances by notable local musicians, oral histories by long-time neighbors, and visual arts.  The production will describe how Morningside Heights has evolved over the past century. The role of local institutions, including Columbia University, will be discussed, and a central theme of the production will be how homes have been threatened and defended in the community in the face of a decades-long process of institutional expansion and gentrification. The event is described as a “Greek tragedy in motion,” it will follow the outlines of that genre and draw parallels between ancient Athens and Morningside Heights, known as the “Acropolis of the New World” in the early 1900s.

Notable participants and performers in the event include:

New York City Council Member Shaun Abreu

Composer/Musician Suki Rae

New Orleans Renaissance jazz band, led by Marius Dicpetris

Historian and Author Stephen Schlesinger

Actor Marie Louise Guinier

Singer/Songwriter Jayani (aka Max Patel)

Ancient music performers Alba Consort

The art of Marc Edmonds (aka ALI) of New York graffiti fame

Partner organizations include:

W111th Street Block Association

Morningside Heights Community Coalition

Columbia Policy Institute

International Brazilian Opera Company

El Taller Latino Americano

“We’re gathering a very diverse group of residents, students, community organizations, and

government representatives to tell the story of Morningside Heights in a way that’s never been done

before,” said Dave Robinson, president of the Morningside Heights Community Coalition, a leading

advocacy and community development group. “Our role players will bring to life the perspectives of

individuals who lived, worked, and passed through our community, from Dwight Eisenhower to Civil

Rights Activist Vincent Harding to affordable housing advocate Marie Runyon. This will be an

engaging and educational event.”

“We’re extremely excited to be supporting this walking tour that explores the history of the Morningside Heights neighborhood,” said the Economic Development Center of the Columbia Policy Institute. “We hope that by expanding everyone’s understanding of the history here, people may develop deeper connections and be better equipped to address community issues.  We especially hope that students will use this knowledge as a catalyst to urge Columbia University to act as an empathic neighbor rather than an uncompromising landlord.”

The event will consist of six scenes that portray the history of Morningside Heights, beginning with a thematic introduction in ancient Greece and then exploring personalities and events in the neighborhood from 1953 to the present day.  Live and recorded music, oral histories by long-time neighbors, and visual arts will also be shared.  These include two banners loaned by El Taller Latino Americano by famed New York artist Marc Edmonds (ALI), an innovator in the graffiti art genre in New York City during the 1970s and ‘80s.  

The event will end with a community forum moderated by Council Member Shaun Abreu, followed by live music and refreshments provided by Hungarian Pastry Shop and V&T Pizzeria & Restaurant.

“This is a way to bring the whole neighborhood together,” said life-long Morningside Heights resident Mimi McDermott.  “We can attract attention and promote engagement in our efforts to protect and

expand local affordable housing.  We’re looking forward to welcoming a large and diverse group of participants and attendees on this walking tour, as we’ve got a fascinating story to tell about our history and current challenges and opportunities.”

CONTACT: Dan McSweeney;; Mobile: 202. 486. 1522