This introductory chapter discusses the importance of religion in the development of New York City between the American Revolution and the Civil War. New York's evangelical population was never large, but it had an unmistakable influence on urban life and development As developers prepared to open new neighborhoods uptown, evangelicals stood ready to build meetinghouses. As the city emerged as a commercial center, evangelicals capitalized on the resultant wealth, technology, and resources to expand their missionary, tract, and benevolent causes. And when evangelicals felt the city's morals had degenerated, they turned to temperance, Sunday schools, antislavery, and other initiatives to reform its residents, who, in turn, responded variously with indifference, occasional violence, and conversion. The result of their efforts was Evangelical Gotham, a complicated and contradictory world whose influence spread far beyond the shores of Manhattan.
Keywords: New York City, urban evangelicalism, evangelicals, urban development, religion, American Revolution, Civil War