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Edwin G. Burrows, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, dies at 74

The former Brooklyn College history professor, who lived in Huntington, co-authored “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898,” winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for History.

Edwin G. Burrows, a retired history professor, died

Edwin G. Burrows, a retired history professor, died May 4 of Parkinsonian syndrome at his home in Huntington. He was 74. Photo Credit: Family

Retired Brooklyn College history professor Edwin G. Burrows, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898,” died May 4 at his home in Huntington after a long battle with Parkinsonian syndrome.

Burrows, a longtime Long Island resident, was 74.

“He really loved the work he did,” said his daughter, Kate Burrows, a doctoral student at Yale University in New Haven. “He loved mentoring young students and young faculty members. He valued young scholarship and cultivating scholarship.”

Edwin Burrows, known to family and friends as Ted, also sparked a deep intellectual hunger in his children, Kate Burrows said.

“He taught us the importance of reading and learning about the world,” she said. “He taught us the importance of travel and learning about other cultures. His passion for life — good food, good wine — was really contagious.”

Burrows is best known for “Gotham,” winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for history, which was co-authored by John Jay College history professor Mike Wallace. The book, released in 1998 and published by Oxford University Press, was a “vast, sprawling and all-consuming history of the rapid evolution of New York City from primordial forest into the world’s most fabulous city,” according to Kirkus Review.

Burrows was born in Detroit in 1943, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1964, and his doctorate from Columbia University in 1973. He taught at Brooklyn College for more than 40 years, and his course on the history of New York City was among the school’s most popular classes.

Burrows became an award-winning scholar recognized by his peers as an expert on the history of New York, its leaders, architecture and role in the American Revolution. He was a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and served on the board of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum in Manhattan, the New-York Historical Society and the Society of American Historians.

Burrows was also past president of the New York Academy of History.

Burrows also authored “Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War,” (2008), which won the 2009 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award and best book of the year by the New York Academy of History. His first book, “Gallatin and the Political Economy of Republicanism,” based on his doctoral dissertation, was published in 1986.

His most recent book, “The Finest Building in America: The New York Crystal Palace, 1853-1858,” was published in February. Kate Burrows said her father was struggling with complications from Parkinsonian syndrome. “I’m so incredibly proud that he finished that book,” she said. “It was very challenging for him.”

Burrows married Patricia Adamski, a senior vice president at Hofstra University and a distinguished professor of law at the school’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law, in 1978 in the garden of their brownstone on Jane Street in Manhattan. The family moved to Northport in 1991, and then to Huntington in 2014.

In addition to his daughter and his wife, Burrows is survived by his son, Matthew Burrows, of Manhattan, and his wife Jacqueline; and brothers David and Daniel Burrows, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Visitation will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Nolan & Taylor-Howe Funeral Home in Northport. A private burial and reception will follow.

“He was the most supportive father I could have asked for,” Kate Burrows said.

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