Michael Kahan

Michael Kahan
Co-Director, Program on Urban Studies
Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology

I've been the Associate Director, Acting Director, and now Co-Director of the Program on Urban Studies since the fall of 2003; I'm also a senior lecturer in Sociology. 

I teach both introductory and upper-level courses in Urban Studies, and courses on the history of American cities, including:

I enjoy teaching in Urban Studies because the students are excited to connect their classroom work to real issues in the cities and towns they live in and care about.  I also love the interdisciplinary nature of Urban Studies; all of us who teach in the program bring our own disciplinary perspectives, and students are able to draw on these multiple viewpoints to understand cities in original and sophisticated ways.  My own discipline is history.  I majored in history as an undergraduate at Yale and went on to get a PhD in history at the University of Pennsylvania.  My dissertation was about streets and street life in Philadelphia around the turn of the twentieth century.

Download my CV here.

Recent projects and publications:

Historical Consultant, “Understanding the History of Housing in Mountain View: Stories of Racism, Anti-Discrimination and Movement Towards Inclusion,” Public event sponsored by the Mountain View Human Relations Commission, and held in Mountain View, CA, July 26, 2022. Watch a Youtube version of my presentation. Press coverage of the event. More information on the city website.

Featured Guest, “Found in Philadelphia” Podcast, including Episode 9, "A Guide to Why Streets Matter," 2022; and Episode 15, "Streetcars Seize the Streets," 2023.

(With Janet Delaney), "Art/History: How South of Market became SOMA," in "The Right to the Creative City," a Colloquy edited by Michael Kahan and Peggy Phelan on Stanford Humanities Center's Arcade (November 2020). (HTML)

“Jewish Girls’ Street Peddling in Gilded Age Philadelphia: Ethnic Niche, Family Strategy, and Sexual Danger,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 12:3 (Fall 2019): 374-392. DOI: 10.1353/hcy.2019.0041 (HTML) (pdf)

“Reading Whiskey Gulch: The Meanings of Space and Urban Redevelopment in East Palo Alto,” Occasion, vol. 8 (August 2015), special issue on Race, Space, and Scale ed. Wendy Cheng and Rashad Shabazz. (HTML) (pdf)

Class Projects co-created by Stanford students and participants in the Music Mural and Arts Project in Urban Studies 166, "East Palo Alto: Reading Urban Change," co-taught with Michael Levin in winter 2012 and 2013:

“The Risk of Cholera and the Reform of Urban Space: Philadelphia, 1893,” Geographical Review 103:4 (2013): 517-536. (Enhanced HTML)

“There are Plenty of Women on the Street”: The Landscape of Commercial Sex in Progressive-Era Philadelphia,” Historical Geography 40 (2012): 39-60. (HTML)

Mapping Vice in Early Twentieth-Century Philadelphia,” Spatial History Project, Stanford University.


(650) 724-7575
Bldg. 120, room 224

Research Interests

Topics of Interest
Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Urban and Social History; Street Life; Urban Space