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New York: An Illustrated History Paperback – 1 Sep 2003
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This book combines striking illustrations with scintillating essays to produce
a superb history of the world s first city.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
A ravishing book . . . It can easily fill a winter of reading and browsing.
New York Times"
"This book combines striking illustrations with scintillating essays to produce
a superb history of the world's first city."
--Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
--New York Times
From the Inside Flap
The companion volume to the PBS television series, with more than 500 full-color and black-and-white illustrations
This lavish and handsomely produced book captures all the beauty, complexity, and power of New York -- the city that seems the very embodiment of ambition, aspiration, romance, desire; the city that has epitomized the entire parade of modern life, with all its possibilities and problems. Chronicling the story of New York from its establishment as a Dutch trading post in 1624 to its global preeminence today, the book is at once the biography of a great city and a vivid exploration of the myriad forces -- commercial, cultural, demographic -- that converged in New York to usher in the contemporary world.
Weaving the strands of the city's sweeping history into a single compelling narrative, New York carries us through nearly four centuries of turbulent growth and change -- from the first settlement on the tip of "Manna-hata" Island to the destruction wrought by the Revolutionary War; to the city's stunning emergence in the nineteenth century as the nation's premier industrial metropolis; to the waves of early-twentieth-century immigration that forever transformed the city and the nation; to New York's transfiguration as the world's first modern city -- pioneering skyscrapers, apartment houses, subways, and highways -- and its role as the birthplace of so much of American popular culture. Along the way, we witness the building of the city's celebrated landmarks and neighborhoods, from the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building and the United Nations; from Wall Street and Times Square to the Lower East Side, Harlem, and SoHo.
The bookbrims with vibrant illustrations, including hundreds of rare photographs, paintings, lithographs, prints, and period maps. The narrative incorporates the voices and stories of men and women -- statesmen, entrepreneurs, artists, and visionaries -- who have lived in and built the city: an extraordinary cast of characters that includes Peter Stuyvesant, Alexander Hamilton, John Jacob Astor, Walt Whitman, Boss Tweed, Jacob Riis, Emma Lazarus, J. P. Morgan, Al Smith, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Gershwin, Fiorello La Guardia, Robert Moses, and Jane Jacobs.
Accompanying the book's narrative are interviews with Robert A. Caro, David Levering Lewis, and Robert A. M. Stern, and essays by a group of distinguished New York historians and critics -- Kenneth T. Jackson, Mike Wallace, Marshall Berman, Phillip Lopate, Carol Berkin, and Daniel Czitrom -- who add their insights about the city to this splendid history.
"From the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
To keep it interesting, the book also goes out of its way to provide little known factoids. For example, Manhattan was probably purchased for cash rather than trinkets and the value of the cash was closer to $600 than the famed $24 we all have heard so much about (someone used the wrong currency exchange rate in the past). There's a nice story about the origins of Typhoid Mary, who inadvertently poisoned those she cooked for. You will also learn that disease was once so rampant that 1 in 25 adults died each year. Without immigrants, the city would not have grown.
Those who are descended from those who immigrated through Ellis Island into one of the ethnic neighborhoods will find many photos to remind them of their heritage. There are also excellent photographic perspectives on the development of the African American community beginning from the Dutch slaveholding days.
The development of the major bridges is one of the visual pleasures of the book. The building of Central Park is a close second. The water piping pictures are quite remarkable, as well.
The book will delight those who do not know much about New York City, but would like to know more. Coming from California, New York City did not get much attention in the history books after the Revolutionary War except when financial markets crumbled. So much of this was new to me.
The book will probably be even more of a delight to those who are from New York City. This is almost like a family album.
I got a lot of pleasure from seeing how areas in the city that I know well have changed over the years. In many cases, you get to see an intersection as a farm, then as a tenement, then as a skyscraper, and sometimes even as a second (more famous) skyscraper.
There is also a lot that is missing. You will find little about higher education (except the building of Columbia in Morningside Heights), museums, libraries, and the magnificent interior art in New York. Performing arts are almost excluded except for Vaudeville and Broadway. The development of air transportation and television are also little developed. But one volume cannot do everything.
When you are done, ask yourself, "What are the irresistible forces about a great city that must be taken advantage of?" That can be a useful guide to ordinary citizens as well as those who provide services in such metropolises.
Have a great visit to New York City!
Anyone who has seen Ric Burns'televison work (eg American Civil War) will know what to expect. This is a meticulously researched book but moves along with the pace of a best-seller. The picture selection is amazing too. What I found particularly good is the inclusion of short essays from a number of top=notch US historians - often providing contrasting viewpoints on key issues to those expressed by Burns.
This book should be compulsory reading for anyone visiting New York. It precisely outlines the cpaitalist-democratic dynamic that makes Gotham what it is.
All the immigrant problems of the UK are all here 150 to 100 years ago.
Beautifully illustrated with many historical maps, paintings and photographs,with concluding commentaries to each section by acknowledged experts in the field. A bargain at £20. so good I've read it twice. I had to, I'm doing it on 'Mastermind'. Not so the accompanying dvd boxed set, which is very expensive and rubbish. (see my other review).