Top positive review
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Indispensible for Manchester Explorers
on 5 August 2008
Based on Pevsner's account of Manchester in the 1960s, this guide adds a huge amount of new information about the modernisation of the city and sets the recent developments in their historic background. It is very much a street guide that you will want to take in hand as you wander. After a brief, clear historical account of the development of Manchester, the bulk of the book is made up of area-by-area guides, each of which has a suggested route to walk and a map. The text covers the noteworthy buildings on each street, so you will be looking at buildings from many eras in a single walk. Backing up the walks are short chapters on eight important buildings: the Cathedral, Chetham's School, The Town Hall, the Town Hall Extension, Central Library, the City Art Gallery, The John Rylands Library, and the facade of the Free Trade Hall. There is a detailed coverage of the mixed bag of academic buildings in the southern University area, and some coverage of places outside Manchester, such as Salford Quays, where the Lowry Centre and the new Imperial War Museum North are sited. Modern buildings are covered almost up to date, including several that were under construction when the book was in production, such as Urbis, the Piccadilly Gardens renovation, and the City Art Gallery. Separate indexes of buildings and of architects, and a short architectural glossary are helpful. The physical format of the book is a little disappointing. Although the many colour photographs are excellent, they are necessarily small, and are best when they capture details rather than whole buildings. The binding is determined to keep the book closed, so my copy is soon going to be damaged as I use both hands to wrench it open while walking the city pavements, and by the time all the walks are done, I expect it to be a wreck. This could have been much better made, even if it would have put the price up by a pound or two, because this is a book I would like to both use and keep. If you live or work here, or are visiting, I recommend buying this Guide.