Gergely Baics

Gergely Baics

Research Interest


Focus areas: Urban history; American economic and social history; Historical GIS

Gergely Baics joined the Barnard History Department in 2010. He holds a joint appointment with the Urban Studies Program, where he is Helman Endowed Faculty Chair. He is affiliated with the Empirical Reasoning Center.

Baics's scholarly interests include modern urban history, 19th-century American economic and social history, trans-Atlantic population history, historical GIS, and social science history methods. He is the author of Feeding Gotham: The Political Economy and Geography of Food in New York, 1790-1860 (Princeton University Press, 2016). His work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Max Weber Programme at the European University Institute, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the New-York Historical Society, and the Presidential Research Award at Barnard. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Urban HistoryUrban History, the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, and Planning Perspectives.

Baics is currently at work on a new book project, Transitional City: An Atlas of Social Distance in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York. He is working on several coauthored articles, exploring density and social heterogeneity in American cities in 1880, measuring socially meaningful distance in the historical city, and mapping Copenhagen in the late 19th to early 20th century. He is also one of the co-principal investigators on "Mapping Historical New York: A Digital Atlas," a public spatial history project based at Columbia’s History Department and the Center for Spatial Research (GSAPP).

Baics is a recipient of the Gladys Brooks Teaching Award at Barnard. He offers lectures and seminars on transnational and American urban history, including “Colonial Cities of the Americas, c. 1500-1800”;  “Emerging Cities: 19th-Century Urban History of the Americas and Europe”; “19th-Century New York City Spatial History”; “Urban Studies Junior Seminar”; “History Department Senior Thesis Seminar.”



Feeding Gotham: The Political Economy and Geography of Food in New York, 1790-1860 (Princeton University Press, 2016). One of the Financial Times Best History Books of 2016

Selected Academic Articles

"The Social Geography of Near and Far: Built Environment and Residential Distance in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York City," Urban History 47, no. 3 (2020), 512-34

The Grid as Algorithm for Land Use: A Reappraisal of the 1811 Manhattan Grid,” [with Leah Meisterlin], Planning Perspectives (2017), 1-24, doi: 10.1080/02665433.2017.1397537

Introduction: Meat and the Nineteenth-Century City,” [with Mikkel Thelle], Urban History 45, no. 2 (2018), 184-92.

Zoning Before Zoning: Land Use and Density in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York City,” [with Leah Meisterlin], Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106, no. 5 (2016), 1152-75

The Geography of Urban Food Retail: Locational Principles of Public Market Provisioning in New York City, 1790-1860,” Urban History 43, no. 3 (2016), 435-53

“Meat Consumption in Nineteenth-Century New York: Quantity, Distribution, and Quality, or Notes on the ‘Antebellum Puzzle,’” in Institutions, Innovation, and Industrialization: Essays in Economic History and Development, ed. Avner Greif, Lynne Kiesling, and John Nye (Princeton University Press, 2015), 97-127

Is Access to Food a Public Good? Meat Provisioning in Early New York City, 1790-1820,” Journal of Urban History 39, no. 4 (2013), 643-68

Public Scholarship

Gergely Baics, Wright Kennedy, Rebecca Kobrin, Laura Kurgan, Leah Meisterlin, Dan Miller, Mae Ngai. Mapping Historical New York: A Digital Atlas. New York, NY: Columbia University. 2021.

"Market System: The Case of Early New York,” Food+City. How We Feed Our Cities 3 (Nov. 2017)

Mapping as Process: Food Access in Nineteenth-Century New York,” Global Urban History (May 2016)

Old Maps, New Tricks: Historical Maps and Data Visualization,” [with Leah Meisterlin], Urban Omnibus (June 2015)

In the News

Columbia News: A Digital Map of Historical New York Offers an Extraordinary Level of Detail (article)

About Feeding GothamThe Way of Improvement Leads Home: The Author's Corner InterviewThe Gotham Center for New York City History Blog: ExcerptCampaign for the American Reader: The Page 99 TestA Taste of the Past: Feeding Gotham: History of Urban Provisioning

CITYLAB: Density and Class in Early Manhattan