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To European explorers, it was Eden, a paradise of waist-high grasses, towering stands of walnut, maple, chestnut, and oak, and forests that teemed with bears, wolves, raccoons, beavers, otters, and foxes. Today, it is the site of Broadway and Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and the home of millions of people, who have come from every corne To European explorers, it was Eden, a paradise of waist-high grasses, towering stands of walnut, maple, chestnut, and oak, and forests that teemed with bears, wolves, raccoons, beavers, otters, and foxes. Today, it is the site of Broadway and Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and the home of millions of people, who have come from every corner of the nation and the globe. In Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace have produced a monumental work of history, one that ranges from the Indian tribes that settled in and around the island of Manna-hata, to the consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York in 1898. It is an epic narrative, a story as vast and as varied as the city it chronicles, and it underscores that the history of New York is the story of our nation. Readers will relive the tumultuous early years of New Amsterdam under the Dutch West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant's despotic regime, Indian wars, slave resistance and revolt, the Revolutionary War and the defeat of Washington's army on Brooklyn Heights, the destructive seven years of British occupation, New York as the nation's first capital, the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the Erie Canal and the coming of the railroads, the growth of the city as a port and financial center, the infamous draft riots of the Civil War, the great flood of immigrants, the rise of mass entertainment such as vaudeville and Coney Island, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the birth of the skyscraper. Here too is a cast of thousands--the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Clement Moore, who saved Greenwich Village from the city's street-grid plan; Herman Melville, who painted disillusioned portraits of city life; and Walt Whitman, who happily celebrated that same life. We meet the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Boss Tweed and his nemesis, cartoonist Thomas Nast; Emma Goldman and Nellie Bly; Jacob Riis and Horace Greeley; police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt; Colonel Waring and his "white angels" (who revolutionized the sanitation department); millionaires John Jacob Astor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, August Belmont, and William Randolph Hearst; and hundreds more who left their mark on this great city. The events and people who crowd these pages guarantee that this is no mere local history. It is in fact a portrait of the heart and soul of America, and a book that will mesmerize everyone interested in the peaks and valleys of American life as found in the greatest city on earth. Gotham is a dazzling read, a fast-paced, brilliant narrative that carries the reader along as it threads hundreds of stories into one great blockbuster of a book.


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To European explorers, it was Eden, a paradise of waist-high grasses, towering stands of walnut, maple, chestnut, and oak, and forests that teemed with bears, wolves, raccoons, beavers, otters, and foxes. Today, it is the site of Broadway and Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and the home of millions of people, who have come from every corne To European explorers, it was Eden, a paradise of waist-high grasses, towering stands of walnut, maple, chestnut, and oak, and forests that teemed with bears, wolves, raccoons, beavers, otters, and foxes. Today, it is the site of Broadway and Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and the home of millions of people, who have come from every corner of the nation and the globe. In Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace have produced a monumental work of history, one that ranges from the Indian tribes that settled in and around the island of Manna-hata, to the consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York in 1898. It is an epic narrative, a story as vast and as varied as the city it chronicles, and it underscores that the history of New York is the story of our nation. Readers will relive the tumultuous early years of New Amsterdam under the Dutch West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant's despotic regime, Indian wars, slave resistance and revolt, the Revolutionary War and the defeat of Washington's army on Brooklyn Heights, the destructive seven years of British occupation, New York as the nation's first capital, the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the Erie Canal and the coming of the railroads, the growth of the city as a port and financial center, the infamous draft riots of the Civil War, the great flood of immigrants, the rise of mass entertainment such as vaudeville and Coney Island, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the birth of the skyscraper. Here too is a cast of thousands--the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Clement Moore, who saved Greenwich Village from the city's street-grid plan; Herman Melville, who painted disillusioned portraits of city life; and Walt Whitman, who happily celebrated that same life. We meet the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Boss Tweed and his nemesis, cartoonist Thomas Nast; Emma Goldman and Nellie Bly; Jacob Riis and Horace Greeley; police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt; Colonel Waring and his "white angels" (who revolutionized the sanitation department); millionaires John Jacob Astor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, August Belmont, and William Randolph Hearst; and hundreds more who left their mark on this great city. The events and people who crowd these pages guarantee that this is no mere local history. It is in fact a portrait of the heart and soul of America, and a book that will mesmerize everyone interested in the peaks and valleys of American life as found in the greatest city on earth. Gotham is a dazzling read, a fast-paced, brilliant narrative that carries the reader along as it threads hundreds of stories into one great blockbuster of a book.

30 review for Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy

    I am loving this book. This is the way I always wanted to read history. Not just the battles or the politics but what were the people doing? Why did they think what they did? What were they reacting to? First hand perpectives give a real view of what it was like. How the power shifted back and forth over the course of history. How "the greatest city in the world" fit into the history of the world, from its very beginning. I can't even imagine the research that went into this 1400 page volume. Re I am loving this book. This is the way I always wanted to read history. Not just the battles or the politics but what were the people doing? Why did they think what they did? What were they reacting to? First hand perpectives give a real view of what it was like. How the power shifted back and forth over the course of history. How "the greatest city in the world" fit into the history of the world, from its very beginning. I can't even imagine the research that went into this 1400 page volume. Reading it on my Kindle, of course makes it much easier. I've only just reached the end of the Revolutionary War but I look forward to the next century. Having only a rough concept of the New York landscape, I wish I was more familiar with the locales, but for an actual New Yorker, to hear that such and such happened at the corner of X St and Y Ave would have to bring history closer to heart.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    My son, Shannon, a resident of Chelsea gave me this book two years ago. As a Southern Californian, I was not in a hurry to read a "New York" book. I also put it off because of it's bulk(1236 pages!!). When I finally got around to it, I found it absolutely riveting. It is far more than merely a history of New York. It is a history of America from the perspective of New York, written with great humor. Unfortunately it only takes us up to 1898, and it took the authors Edwin G Burrows and Mike Walla My son, Shannon, a resident of Chelsea gave me this book two years ago. As a Southern Californian, I was not in a hurry to read a "New York" book. I also put it off because of it's bulk(1236 pages!!). When I finally got around to it, I found it absolutely riveting. It is far more than merely a history of New York. It is a history of America from the perspective of New York, written with great humor. Unfortunately it only takes us up to 1898, and it took the authors Edwin G Burrows and Mike Wallace 20 years to complete! I only hope that the second volume is available soon! I have been spoiled by vol 1 and want to continue the march into the New York City of the 21st Century! This book ALMOST made me want to live in Manhattan so that I could visit locales and buildings while I was reading the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    Time is not a carousel on which we might, next time round, snatch the brass ring by being better prepared. When I began this book, I thought that I would speed through it in a summer month of dedicated reading, while there was little else to distract me. Yet after four weeks of slogging I had not even gotten a third of the way through. Worse still, I never felt fully engaged; every time I returned to the book it required an act of will; the pace never picked up, the writing never become effor Time is not a carousel on which we might, next time round, snatch the brass ring by being better prepared. When I began this book, I thought that I would speed through it in a summer month of dedicated reading, while there was little else to distract me. Yet after four weeks of slogging I had not even gotten a third of the way through. Worse still, I never felt fully engaged; every time I returned to the book it required an act of will; the pace never picked up, the writing never become effortlessly pleasurable. So I put it aside, to finish at the end of summer. When that didn’t work, I put it aside, to finish during Christmas break. And when that didn’t work, I bought the audiobook, to finish the remaining chapters on my runs. Now, 261 days later, I can finally tick it off my list. Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace set an ambitious goal: to write an authoritative, comprehensive, and accessible history of New York City. In their words, they want to include “sex and sewer systems, finance and architecture, immigration and politics, poetry and crime,” and that list is only the beginning. The amount of research required to assemble this vast and teetering edifice of knowledge is almost nauseating. When you consider that this book, heavy enough to serve as a deadly weapon, is the condensed version of thousands of smaller books, dissertations, papers, and studies, you cannot help but feel admiration for the many hours of sweat and toil that went into this pharaonic task. And in the end they have accomplished at least two of their three goals: the book is authoritative and comprehensive. But is it accessible? This is where my criticism begins. Burrows and Wallace attempt to gather together so many threads of research that the final tapestry is confused and chaotic. In a single chapter they can pivot wildly from one topic to another, going from department stores to race riots to train lines, so that the reader has little to hold on to as they traverse this whirlwind of information. The final product is an assemblage rather than a coherent story, an encyclopedia disguised as a narrative history. Granted, encyclopedias are good and useful things; but they seldom make for compelling reading. What was lacking was a guiding organizational principle. This could have taken the form of a thesis on, say, the way that the city developed; or it could have been a literary device, such as arranging the information around certain historical figures. Lacking this, what we often get is a list—which, as it happens, is the authors’ favorite rhetorical device. To pick an entirely typical sentence, the authors inform us that, in 1828, the Common Council licensed “nearly seven thousand people, including butchers, grocers, tavern keepers, cartmen, hackney coachmen, pawnbrokers, and market clerks, together with platoons of inspectors, weighers, measurers, and gaugers of lumber, lime, coal, and flour.” Now, lists can be wonderful to read if used sparingly and assembled with care—just ask Rabelais. But overused, they become tedious and exhausting. This is indicative of what is a more general fault of the book, the lack of authorial personality in its prose. Perhaps this is because Burrows and Wallace edited and rewrote each other’s chapters, creating a kind of anonymous hybrid author. Now, this is not to say that the prose is bad; to the contrary, I think that this book is consistently well-written. If the book is dry, it is not because of any lack of writerly skill, but because the prose limits itself to recounting fact rather than expressing opinion or thought. Again, the book is an encyclopedia without the alphabetical order, and encyclopedias are not supposed to contain any speck of subjectivity. Unfortunately, even the most masterly prose is dead on the page if there is no discernable person behind it. I am being rather critical of a book which, without a doubt, is a triumph of synthesis and scholarship. If I am disappointed, it is because I felt that I could have retained much more of the information in these pages had it been presented with more coherence—a larger perspective, a sense of overall order, an underpinning structure. As it stands, I do not have that satisfying (if, perhaps, untrustworthy) feeling that an excellent history can provide: that of seeing the past from a high perspective, as a grand and logical unfolding. Though not exactly fair, I cannot help comparing Gotham unfavorably with another massive book about the history of the city, The Power Broker, which forever changed how I look at the city and, indeed, at the nature of power itself. Yet after finishing this, I am not sure if my perspective on the city has been appreciably changed. But I should end on a positive note. This is a well-written, exhaustive, and thoroughly impressive history of the city. And despite all my complaints and headaches, I liked it enough so that I will, someday, drag myself through its sequel.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    This is a long and engrossing book of the history of New York City. It is ever so readable and incredibly informative. Don't let its hefty 1400 pages be intimidating. Despite the wealth of detail, the writing is done with class and occasionally with humor. The topics of immigration, slavery, racism, feminism, the labor movement, and political corruption are all thoroughly covered. I can't wait to try reading the sequel, Greater Gotham, which features the same bulk but covers only from 1898-1919! This is a long and engrossing book of the history of New York City. It is ever so readable and incredibly informative. Don't let its hefty 1400 pages be intimidating. Despite the wealth of detail, the writing is done with class and occasionally with humor. The topics of immigration, slavery, racism, feminism, the labor movement, and political corruption are all thoroughly covered. I can't wait to try reading the sequel, Greater Gotham, which features the same bulk but covers only from 1898-1919!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    This book is above all a great testament to the overall high level of current American historical writing and academic research. While Burrows and Wallace have unquestionably written a great work of synthesis history, they obviously could not have achieved such an excellence if that there had not been an extraordinary collection of monographs to synthesize. Hats off to Burrows, Wallace and the academics producing excellent studies on narrow topics. I devoted roughly one quarter of my undergraduat This book is above all a great testament to the overall high level of current American historical writing and academic research. While Burrows and Wallace have unquestionably written a great work of synthesis history, they obviously could not have achieved such an excellence if that there had not been an extraordinary collection of monographs to synthesize. Hats off to Burrows, Wallace and the academics producing excellent studies on narrow topics. I devoted roughly one quarter of my undergraduate studies to American history placing slightly more emphasis on the History of France and New France (i.e. Canada prior to the British conquest.) Thirty-five years ago I had a good solid grounding in most areas of American history. Gotham demonstrates that great advances have been made everywhere since. The brilliant section on the New Netherland indicates great progress in the understanding of the societies and economies that preceded the American revolution. The discussions on machine politics, municipal corruption, police forces, the management of relief services, education, water supplies, road construction, street-car services, public lighting, and subways all show a more sophisticated understanding of American society than existed when I was at university. The bibliographies for each chapter make it abundantly clear that the authors of Gotham were able to draw on numerous recent monographs to tell their stories. The excellent quality of the source material should not be allowed to obscure that Wallace and Burrows perform brilliantly at what they supposed to do as synthesis historians which is to create a coherent overview and tell an engaging story. I especially enjoyed the section in which they explained how the major New York retailers with the help of Washington Irving's fabrication of Santa Clause from the SinterKlaus of the Knickerbockers were able to convert Christmas from an obscure Catholic feast day to world wide retailing phenomenon. However, this is just my favourite moment. The colour and human interest is everywhere in this book. I urge everyone to read this great history of a great city.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    "Gotham" by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace earns its name, not just because of its subject but because of its heft at more than 1200 pages. The coverage is exhausting, the reading of sources nuanced; this is no straight trajectory to the top for America's best-loved and most-vilified city. In a modification of the adage originally attributed to Balzac, perhaps beneath every astonishing city is a crime, and New York was no stranger to its country's original sin. The useful myth that Peter Minu "Gotham" by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace earns its name, not just because of its subject but because of its heft at more than 1200 pages. The coverage is exhausting, the reading of sources nuanced; this is no straight trajectory to the top for America's best-loved and most-vilified city. In a modification of the adage originally attributed to Balzac, perhaps beneath every astonishing city is a crime, and New York was no stranger to its country's original sin. The useful myth that Peter Minuit bought Manhattan for $24 worth of beads is laid to rest, with its self-congratulatory subtext (Oh, those prescient Dutch! Oh, those naive Native Americans!) In fact the place was purchased with the torture and extermination of the native Lenapes. Yes, Dutch people died as well, but the ratio of dead natives to dead Europeans was very high, and names like Vanderbilt and Van Cortlandt live on while the anonymous Lenapes were extinguished. I should say that the city's wealth rests on both of the nation's original sins, because slavery existed there, a slave rebellion (the evidence for the existence of which Wallace finds "less than convincing") ended in brutal executions, the city had close economic relations with the South and was not entirely committed to the Union, and of course the draft riots turned into a racist massacre that ranks with the worst. Not that "Gotham" is strictly revisionist history; the growth (and sometimes decline) of banks, Wall Street, railroad companies, great stores and mansions all appear, but so do the Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews and Chinese, women's causes and the labor movement. Although Tweed and Teddy Roosevelt have their parts in the eternal struggle between machine and reform (without the usual reverence for the latter), this is in large part economic and social history rather than political. This is a New York that is less a succession of struggles between great men than a panoramic view of as many of the people who lived in, built and entertained the city. Alexander Hamilton, DeWitt Clinton, J. P. Morgan, Horace Greeley and Walt Whitman all get their moment, but so do Fanny Wright (an early feminist), Father Aaron McGlynn ("the Priest of the People"), Emma Goldman, the Plug Uglies gang of Five Points, problems of sewage, overcrowding and water supply. Such a comprehensive review inevitably leads to a feeling that some communities--African-Americans, immigrants, the vanished Lenape--are underrepresented. But this is a story too often told exclusively in terms of the scarcity of real estate, the manipulation of wealth and the celebration of status. "Gotham" is much more comprehensive than that, which is an accomplishment and not just in terms of weight.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence A

    A truly monumental romp through the first 275 years of the world's most monumental city, although I'm probably biased, since I was born in Brooklyn and now live in Manhattan. I began reading this book several years ago, put it down for a while, and picked it up again a few months ago. The narrative thread is enlightening, although the book can also be used as a reference volume with respect to certain events, epochs, and personalities. And, oh, what personalities! Outsized, egomaniacal, visionar A truly monumental romp through the first 275 years of the world's most monumental city, although I'm probably biased, since I was born in Brooklyn and now live in Manhattan. I began reading this book several years ago, put it down for a while, and picked it up again a few months ago. The narrative thread is enlightening, although the book can also be used as a reference volume with respect to certain events, epochs, and personalities. And, oh, what personalities! Outsized, egomaniacal, visionary, venal, public-spirited, saintly, carnal, criminal, moral, grasping, moralistic, hypocritical, self-dealing, self-deluding, creative, etc etc. As we like to say here in the Big Apple, if you're one in a million, that means that there are eight of you.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Arthur

    I had one of the authors (Wallace) as a professor in a history of NYC class in my college days but have no other dealings with him so I don't think I'm biased in stating this is a very well researched book, nicely put together. I had one of the authors (Wallace) as a professor in a history of NYC class in my college days but have no other dealings with him so I don't think I'm biased in stating this is a very well researched book, nicely put together.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    This is THE definitive history of New York. As with a few other rare books I put this in a category all it's own. An enriching masterpiece for everyone who reads it. This is THE definitive history of New York. As with a few other rare books I put this in a category all it's own. An enriching masterpiece for everyone who reads it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Antonio Nunez

    Summarizing this book is a bit like summarizing the Bible: the outline of both is easy to make out but what makes them memorable are the details. Gotham is monumental history, in the sense of Mount Rushmore or the Holy Family Cathedral in Barcelona: the work of decades, an emblem of an age. Here we begin with Indian Manahatta, an earthly paradise for the Lenape Indians, a nomadic tribe that visited the Island to hunt and fish. Then come the Dutch who found New Amsterdam. Then the English partisa Summarizing this book is a bit like summarizing the Bible: the outline of both is easy to make out but what makes them memorable are the details. Gotham is monumental history, in the sense of Mount Rushmore or the Holy Family Cathedral in Barcelona: the work of decades, an emblem of an age. Here we begin with Indian Manahatta, an earthly paradise for the Lenape Indians, a nomadic tribe that visited the Island to hunt and fish. Then come the Dutch who found New Amsterdam. Then the English partisans of James II, who christen it New York. Although not the greatest city in the colonies (that honor would probably go to Philadelphia or Boston), New York was destined for greatness by its location. The monies made by Southern planters and Boston merchants flowed to the island, which was shortly and briefly the capital of an independent country after a long war also fought there. Its greatest man, fittingly foreign born, Alexander Hamilton, gave up the capital in exchange for the creation of a national bank: another instance of commerce taking first place in the city’s priorities. Independent New York’s history is one of colonizing first itself (as Manhattan was built up from Wall Street up), then its surroundings (Brooklyn starting from the heights, Queens, New Jersey) and then finally swallowing up the other boroughs to make up a greater version of itself. In the meantime, it became the terminus for the canals connecting with the North and Midwest, then for the railways that spanned the American continent, the biggest abattoir before Chicago came up, the center for the gold rush and the eventual starting point for the war with Spain and American global power. Capital of the world, a new Rome. These are the highlights. Then there are the set-pieces. Washington crossing the Delaware. Burr killing Hamilton in Greenwich Village. The mob taking over the city to protest conscription in the Civil War and massacring African-Americans. The Brooklyn Bridge being opened by PT Barnum, who marches a parade of 21 elephants across its expanse. Thomas Alva Edison lighting up Wall Street. Then there are the peoples and tribes. The Dutch. The English. The French (for a century after independence New York was closer to France than to England. This was reversed in the last quarter of the nineteenth century when the gilded age barons decided to ascend into plutocrat heaven by marrying their daughters off to the sons of English dukes and earls). The Irish, the Italians and the Jews, whose histories are consubstantial with that of New York. The Germans and the Chinese. For a long time New York was the third largest German city in the world after Berlin and Vienna. There are great conflagrations, mainly between Protestants and Catholics and between bourgeois and workers. There are massacres and pestilences and plagues. There is greed and idealism. There are market booms and terrible market crashes, some sounding as bad as the Great Depression. Politics alternates between nativist WASPs, in cahoots with the rich, smarter, more honest but nastier towards everyone who isn’t a WASP, unwilling to invest large sums, and Tammany Hall ethnics, mainly Irish, corrupt but willing to provide investment and jobs for the boys, as well as charity targeted to their constituents. The city oscillates between laissez faire alcoholic raunchiness and puritanical, prohibitionist control of people’s lives, represented by bluenose supreme Anthony Comstock, a postal inspector who dedicated his life to the elimination of smut, who set up many of the mail regulations that were lates dismantled though litigation by Playboy and Mad Magazine. Everything happened in New York. Abolitionism. Socialism. Anarchism. Liberalism. Prohibitionism. Large museums. Concert halls. Opera. Black face and minstrels. Vaudeville. Large landscaped parks. Skyscrapers. The penny press. The book industry and the rag trade. The first millionaires and billionaires. Mythical figures like John Jacob Astor and Cornelius Vanderbilt. JP Morgan. John D Rockefeller. Andrew Carnegie. Joseph Pulitzer. Horace Greeley. PT Barnum. New York swallowed and spit out Herman Melville and Edgar Allan Poe, whereas Walt Whitman, who was from Brooklyn did quite well for himself there. There are hundreds of characters. Mainly villains like Jay Gould (a rascal, but a likable one) and “Clubber” Williams, a corrupt police inspector who retired a millionaire on a policeman’s salary (guess why he was nicknamed “Clubber”), or the famous abortionist madame Restell, who set up her mansion right by Saint Paddy’s Cathedral. There are also a few heroes. Virtually everyone turned up in New York at some point. Near the end of the book, there’s José Martí, rolling cigars and planning revolution. There’s Giuseppe Garibaldi. There’s Chateaubriand and Napoleon III. Talleyrand. There are potted histories of canals, railways, the telephone, electricity, streetcars, whorehouses, insurance. Law firms. Much English slang in current use comes from old New York too. Everything began or came together in New York. One can now understand why aliens always land in New York rather than Muncie, Indiana or Abilene, Texas. They too know that nothing really happens unless it happens in New York. The book ends in 1898 as New York becomes greater New York and the US becomes an imperial power as it defeats Spain, aided by New York press baron William Randolph Hearst and New York político Teddy Roosevelt (whose term as a city police inspector- there were four of them- turns out to have been quite nasty). In the future greatness beckons: the Brooklyn Dodgers. The NY Yankees. Babe Ruth. Fiorello La Guardia. Robert Moses. Broadway melodies. The Empire State Building. Al Smith. The golden and silver ages of comics. Madison Avenue advertising. The UN. This is History with a capital age. “Gotham” in scope, breadth and execution is in the same ballpark as Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Mommsen’s History of Rome. Highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    The better part of six months later... I feel a little like I've survived a siege, and a little less like having finished a book. A 1236-page siege. This was the first book I read primarily on my Kindle. It was a significant reason for buying the Kindle. If I had to haul the book around on airplanes I wouldn't have gotten done nearly as fast as I did. Definitely a good investment. The history itself was comprehensive, repetitive, and altogether corrupt. One political party to another. Prosperity The better part of six months later... I feel a little like I've survived a siege, and a little less like having finished a book. A 1236-page siege. This was the first book I read primarily on my Kindle. It was a significant reason for buying the Kindle. If I had to haul the book around on airplanes I wouldn't have gotten done nearly as fast as I did. Definitely a good investment. The history itself was comprehensive, repetitive, and altogether corrupt. One political party to another. Prosperity to depression. Never-ending squalid poverty and repugnant wealth. Labor versus capital. Immigrant versus nativists. Tammany Hall versus reformists. So many times it felt like the same story being told but with new characters and in new decades. I will say this. I've made my peace with New York City. As a graduate student in Syracuse, I'd go down for work every few weeks, stay in Tribeca, and work in Brooklyn. I hated it. Loud. Dirty. Smelly. Lonely. Crowded. The two times I've been back in the past seven years made me realize my feelings haven't changed. Yet, for as detailed as this account of the city's history is, it was pretty interesting. I was in a hotel across the Hudson River just a week ago, staring at the skyline, and didn't feel disgust anymore. It was more like looking at a museum artifact - curiosity, maybe? Had this not been on my Pulitzer reading list I likely never would have read it. Since it was, I gritted my teeth and went at it. I'm glad it's over and will bask in having survived.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Just flat out an outstanding history book. Reading this book has been a labor of love that has taken a few years because there is so much information and analysis packed into it. It may seem to cover a limited topic, New York City to 1898, but the authors cover a lot of topics in great depth and there are connections to broader trends in the US and the world. I appreciated how much I learned about New York City - the loco-focos, the b'hoys and so on. I think what was most interesting was how muc Just flat out an outstanding history book. Reading this book has been a labor of love that has taken a few years because there is so much information and analysis packed into it. It may seem to cover a limited topic, New York City to 1898, but the authors cover a lot of topics in great depth and there are connections to broader trends in the US and the world. I appreciated how much I learned about New York City - the loco-focos, the b'hoys and so on. I think what was most interesting was how much of the history parallels current events - the debate over whether assistance should be provided or people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps; the similarities between the Italian immigration of the late 19th & early 20th Century and the current Hispanic immigration; even Teddy Roosevelt's experience with zero tolerance policing and some of the surprising outcomes - this book is really remarkable for the depth of the research by the authors and numerous connections that are made.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael D.

    No other history of NYC even comes close to this. And I don't just mean in thoroughness. The writing is so easy and smooth while at the same detailing complicated events and casts of characters. Those who write often know that to be able to write this way is extremely hard. If it weren't written this way, no one could slog through it. Also, the structure of the book could not have been better. To write something this huge it is necessary to compartmentalize, but keeping the compartmentalization No other history of NYC even comes close to this. And I don't just mean in thoroughness. The writing is so easy and smooth while at the same detailing complicated events and casts of characters. Those who write often know that to be able to write this way is extremely hard. If it weren't written this way, no one could slog through it. Also, the structure of the book could not have been better. To write something this huge it is necessary to compartmentalize, but keeping the compartmentalization is one of the strengths of the book. It means one can jump around in it from place to place and still be able to enjoy the book. Burrows, who wrote most of the pre-industrialization part of the book, teaches a class on the History of NYC at Brooklyn College and, as you can probably tell from the book, is a fantastic teacher.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Three main thoughts: 1) This book was incredible but I'm fucking exhausted, 2) I love my city so much, 3) In the time it took me to read this book, 171,000 Americans died from covid-19. 20,000 of them were my neighbors. I don't know how to process this. Three main thoughts: 1) This book was incredible but I'm fucking exhausted, 2) I love my city so much, 3) In the time it took me to read this book, 171,000 Americans died from covid-19. 20,000 of them were my neighbors. I don't know how to process this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Note for own reference: Roughly 62% onwards (Kindle edition) is the index.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    This is one of those books that you find on everyones shelf but which few have actually read. I'll tell you a secret, the way to get through this is to get the audiobook. It's 67 hours and fifteen minutes long but only one credit on the audible subscription or $16. So, for $0.50/hr you can hire a scribe to follow you around all day and read this book to you in your spare time. It will still take you weeks, but you'll be much much richer for it. If you live in or are interested in New York City i This is one of those books that you find on everyones shelf but which few have actually read. I'll tell you a secret, the way to get through this is to get the audiobook. It's 67 hours and fifteen minutes long but only one credit on the audible subscription or $16. So, for $0.50/hr you can hire a scribe to follow you around all day and read this book to you in your spare time. It will still take you weeks, but you'll be much much richer for it. If you live in or are interested in New York City it is pretty much impossible to imagine a more thorough history of the City, from the geographic formations that created its outline, to its inhabitation by Native Americans to the arrival and colonization by the Dutch and the Conquest of the English the work flows extremely well. Despite capturing the arc of history there is also an extreme level of detail, both personal as well as economic, cultural, political, social. The breadth and depth of this work cannot be exaggerated. It is relatively neutral though the structural marxian analysis of the authors does come through fairly strongly. While this was a major weakness in "Empire of Cotton" where to prove his case about the evils of capitalism the author had write an entire book of economic history without reference to price or profit, it comes in quite handy when trying to explain political movements in a major urban area to refer to class struggle as the democratic political system lends itself to this kind of analysis quite easily. The marxian framework is only really notable in the adulation the book lends to Henry George. But, as I defer to their expertise, perhaps he really was the most important political figure of the final quarter of the nineteenth century. I highly recommend this book. It's probably a very good read and it is a truly excellent listen.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    It took me quite a while to read this book - several years, in fact. I was determined to read it through to the end, primarily because it was co-written by my second cousin. I am proud of my association with this Pulitzer Prize winning historian, and I am proud to have read the length of this book, a panoramic overview of the history of New York City from its earliest times up until the 20th century, and the creation of the metropolis out of what were formerly independent communities. I am at a l It took me quite a while to read this book - several years, in fact. I was determined to read it through to the end, primarily because it was co-written by my second cousin. I am proud of my association with this Pulitzer Prize winning historian, and I am proud to have read the length of this book, a panoramic overview of the history of New York City from its earliest times up until the 20th century, and the creation of the metropolis out of what were formerly independent communities. I am at a loss of what to say about this book, because it says it all. The authors present a complete, and not overly detailed, account of New York's growth and development. The emphasis is on power and politics, as in most histories, but there are side trails taken into various cultural situations. The diversity and ever-evolving nature of the place, as well as its sometime brutality, are displayed well. The knowledge imparted here is so full as to make it impossible to summarize, and the work itself is in the nature of a summing up of the work of other historians. There were numerous fascinating anecdotes and quick sketches of complicated situations, some of which will stay with me. For example, I recall reading with surprise about the free Black folks of NYC, who were here long before the Emancipation Proclamation, rubbing shoulders with their white neighbors. There is a lot about old, old New York and some of its fascinating characters and leaders, such as Dutch populist Jacob Leisler, someone who deserves to be better remembered. And it is not easy to forget the unsung tragedy of the draft riots that occurred during the Civil War, once one has read about it. Political corruption, particularly under Boss Tweed and his Tammany Hall organization, and the fight against it is discussed at some length. Also interesting to learn about are the numerous devices that make modern life possible which were invented in NYC, such as the elevator and the steam engine, the creation of New York's excellent public water system, and some of the entertaining and partying that went on in the 1800s. The city's growth from being a city with about the same population and influence as Boston and Philadelphia in the late 1700s into America's leading metropolis and business center is the real main theme of this book, and of course, New York's growth went hand in hand with America's. There is also much here about the waves of immigrants, from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the Jewish shtetls of Eastern Europe, and about the ongoing conflicts between the upper crust and the working class, and between the proper and the licentious. Gotham is pretty well illustrated too, with numerous drawings and (mostly from the New York Historical Society) that add a great deal to the overall effect. This will sit on my shelf, a Christmas gift from my father (I got him the exact same thing that year), and I will dip into it from time to time when I feel the need to understand New York City a little better, and I will reflect on this amazing achievement of my kinsman and his fellow historian.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jason Bergman

    Okay, so let's get this out of the way up front: this book is very, very large and intimidating. It took me over twelve years to muster the courage to read it. I picked it up in 2003, wanting to read a really good history of New York City, and for all that time it sat on my shelf, taunting me. So I finally read it. And it is indeed great. Here's the thing about Gotham - while there are almost certainly more comprehensive histories of the founding of New Amsterdam, the Revolutionary War, the New Yo Okay, so let's get this out of the way up front: this book is very, very large and intimidating. It took me over twelve years to muster the courage to read it. I picked it up in 2003, wanting to read a really good history of New York City, and for all that time it sat on my shelf, taunting me. So I finally read it. And it is indeed great. Here's the thing about Gotham - while there are almost certainly more comprehensive histories of the founding of New Amsterdam, the Revolutionary War, the New York Civil War draft riots, the creation of the Brooklyn bridge, the rise of Boss Tweed and Tammany hall, the Railroad barons and financiers like J.P. Morgan, and the 1898 unification of the boroughs that ultimately created what we call New York City, it is safe to say that there is no single book that covers all of these events (and much, much more) with as much detail as this one. It's really quite remarkable, and well deserving of the Pulitzer Prize it won. Having said all that, I knocked a star off because good lord is this book dense. I never take a break from a book, but I had to stop halfway through to read something else. It was just too much for me. This book is so impossibly comprehensive it just boggles the mind. Every labor dispute, every street, every major building, the founding of every church, they're all in here. Plus every newspaper, all the big name citizens...if it happened in NYC from its earliest days all the way up to 1898, it's in here. The fact that this is called Volume 1 is a bit ominous, but I'm up for the challenge of a second volume that covers the 20th century. I'm even looking forward to it. Although given that this book took over two decades to write, I'm not expecting it anytime soon. Bottom line is this: if you're up to the challenge, read Gotham. It's terrific. Just get comfortable, because you're not going anywhere for a while.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sammy

    To the people who only gave this book two stars: I wish you would write a review and let us know why! I read this book over a lazy summer, and have never been more fascinated by a work of non-fiction. Burrows and Wallace profile the city from its "discovery" by white men to the bustle of the 1890s. They discuss almost every conceivable aspect of the city with humour and insightful research, providing us with astonishing statistics, fascinating quotes from the time, and a comprehensive scope that To the people who only gave this book two stars: I wish you would write a review and let us know why! I read this book over a lazy summer, and have never been more fascinated by a work of non-fiction. Burrows and Wallace profile the city from its "discovery" by white men to the bustle of the 1890s. They discuss almost every conceivable aspect of the city with humour and insightful research, providing us with astonishing statistics, fascinating quotes from the time, and a comprehensive scope that reaches from the aristocracy to the slums. Individual readers will have their own areas that could have been further researched, but truthfully this is a truly absorbing read. (And, since the book at least touches on every aspect of the city's history, it's a good starting point to find areas for more specialised reading.) More so than just the history of one city, this book is a history of trade, urban life, culture and really America as a whole. It is filled with colourful personalities, uplifting stories and tragedies. In some areas, it can be quite academic with its catalogues and investigations of history, but I'm the kind of person who loves that. Better to be ambitious than lazy, I say! I can't wait for the promised sequel to this book (chronicling the 20th century).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Am I crazy for reading a 1300+ page on the history of NYC only up till 1898? Maybe, but this is so going on my resume. Update: I finally finished this book. One word: Mindblowing!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Oh goodness. 1300 pages and we only get to 1898 and the eve of the incorporation of the city as we know it, consisting of five boroughs. This book leaves nothing out. Nothing. It's without a doubt the most comprehensive social, economic, and political history of New York you can find. It also happens to be amazingly good. There's a lot to say about it, but I'll limit my review to this: The sections on New York's role in national and international affairs, politics, and economics are good, but the Oh goodness. 1300 pages and we only get to 1898 and the eve of the incorporation of the city as we know it, consisting of five boroughs. This book leaves nothing out. Nothing. It's without a doubt the most comprehensive social, economic, and political history of New York you can find. It also happens to be amazingly good. There's a lot to say about it, but I'll limit my review to this: The sections on New York's role in national and international affairs, politics, and economics are good, but the sections on fashion, culture, popular entertainment, and writing are even better. There's such a depth of information here this book is more like a reference than a narrative. But it has amazing narrative style. So easy to read, you won't really mind its heft. You can move through a generation of history very quickly and still feel eager and alert for what's coming next. Highly recommended, but maybe not in one sitting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    https://jackwwang.com/2020/06/29/here... "It is a miracle that New York works at all. The whole thing is implausible" EB White Before ever setting foot on Manhattan, in my mind there was already a topography of New York filled with familiar landmarks: Central Park where Rachel, Ross, & co. frolicked in front of a fountain... marble halls of the Met where Pierce Brosnan and snuck away with a Monet... busted Williamsburg sidewalks where Francie Nolan came of age, Katz's Deli in Soho where Meg Ryan h https://jackwwang.com/2020/06/29/here... "It is a miracle that New York works at all. The whole thing is implausible" EB White Before ever setting foot on Manhattan, in my mind there was already a topography of New York filled with familiar landmarks: Central Park where Rachel, Ross, & co. frolicked in front of a fountain... marble halls of the Met where Pierce Brosnan and snuck away with a Monet... busted Williamsburg sidewalks where Francie Nolan came of age, Katz's Deli in Soho where Meg Ryan had a climactic pastrami, and the Queensboro bridge, where Fitzgerald claims one can see New York for the first time again and again. New York City is the stage for world's dreams and the landscape of the American imagination. I had moved from suburban Texas to rural New Hampshire for college. From the great plains hinterlands, I crossed the Appalachian range, and even three hundred miles away, Dartmouth was still close enough to the metropolis to be well in its gravitational orbit. Long before I graduated or knew what I wanted to do with my life, I knew I wanted to live in New York. I got my degree and moved to the city, full of the wide-eyed wonder of a twenty-two year old from the flyover suburbs. New York has a way of infusing banal activities with energy and meaning, just by sheer merit of location. In my first year here, I commuted each day from my Upper East apartment to my Midtown office. At 7:30, I would pack myself into the sardine can that is a rush-hour express train. I would take it down two long hopping stops to Grand Central, the labyrinth train terminal buried under fifty-nine stories of the MetLife building. If I'm in a rush to get to work, I would descend even further underground for the 7 train transfer so as to emerge closer to the office. In that first summer of 2011, at the hairpin turn of the pedestrian ramp winding down to the platform, there was always a young violinist in a sundress playing Mendelssohn or Paganini, always playing with a childlike joy and an ethereal smile. Thousands of midtown commuters couldn't help but smile at this ray of joy in the midst of a busy beehive. When the weather turned cold, the ramp emptied out, and the soundtrack of my commute went silent again but for footsteps and screeches of subway cars on rails. If I was in no rush, and the weather was inviting, I would get out at Grand Central for a longer walk. I took a circuitous way out of the station so I could walk through the breathtaking main concourse: 35,000 square foot of beaux-arts splendor, light streaming in from twenty-four massive windows, the overhead drape of an enormous teal rendition of the night sky, full of constellations, that seemed somehow grander than the real sky. At the very center, the iconic information booth with its beautiful brass clock on top; a tableau that co-starred with the likes of Cary Grant and Judy Garland on the silver screen. In New York, proximity to so many places filled with history and stories, imbued something as ordinary as my morning commute with a feeling of significance. After two years, I moved to California to grow budding yeast on plates and practice my pipetting technique. I said goodbye, with not just a little bit of sadness, to the city I had always dreamed of living in. Life takes unexpected turns, and a year later, I'm moving back to banks of the Hudson. It was then, in the summer of 2014, that I picked up Mike Wallace and Edwin Burrow's 4.7 lb history of New York City, which they dubbed "Gotham" (the book stops somewhat abruptly in 1898, apparently you have to crack 5 lbs to get to the 20th century). It seemed somehow appropriate, as I prepared to call New York home again, to also start an intimidating project of a 1,400-page history of the city. Any city of ten million may ultimately be unknowable, but surely 1,400 pages should make a dint in my ignorance. While I was away though, people I was close to had moved away, and other friends had since newly arrived. Familiar haunts had come and gone as well. My favorite restaurant was a cozy 12-seater with lime green wallpaper, nestled in a semi-basement floor on East 92nd street. The perfectly named "Square Meal" had closed just a few months into my California foray. The Continental, a grungy dive in the East Village where practically every young professional here in their 20's circa 2010 had taken more $2 shots they should have, had also closed. The city I came back to was not the city I had left. Making my way through "Gotham" gave me some comfort with this fact. I read about the countless rebirths and new incarnations of the city, from Lenape country to Dutch settlement to English trading town to the first capital city of the newly minted republic. It seemed deeply written in New York's DNA to change at a dizzying pace, remaking itself before you have time to get your bearings to the previous incarnation. The book reassured me that New York's mercurial nature is perhaps its most constant character. "Gotham" was a lovely companion to living in New York. Passages on Lenape hunting practices paired well with long runs up west-side drive. When I joined a Dutch Reformed church in Park Slope, I was reminded of chapters on early dutch settlers. House parties in Stuy Town recalled the biography of Peter Stuyvesant. And sunny weekend picnics in Prospect Park's Long Meadow called to mind the account of Washington's retreat from Mount Prospect. The book also uncovered backstories of the little corners of the city I came to know intimately. I learned that my first apartment on East 85th Street used to mark the dividing line between a pigless downtown, where tenement dwellers were banned from raising pigs, and a northern porker's paradise. I learned that when I moved to a soulless glass and steel Williamsburg apartment (the ones that were popping up like mushrooms in the 2010's), a century ago the neighborhood refined the lion's share of sugar and oil for the country. I learned that Brooklyn hipsters, with their love of tight jeans, beards, and fixed-gear bikes, resembled nothing less than the 19th century New York dandies who favored tight pants, spectacles, mismatched clothing, and purebred racehorses. Picking up a 1,400-page book is daunting (literally "heavy lifting"), but I wasn't on a deadline, so I settled into a rhythm, and the tome began to feel like a familiar companion. For such a long book, Gotham is surprisingly readable. At the end of the day however, one has to include a whole lot of detail to fill up 1,400 pages. More often than not, the details are joyful and interesting, but inevitably at times it veers into tedium. On most days, I would find at least 15 minutes to knock out a a few pages. When my enthusiasm sapped, I stepped away for weeks, sometimes months. But it felt comforting knowing that I could always come back to this sprawling story. I admit, not everyone will find reading a 1,400-page history cover-to-cover... fun. But as Wallace himself explains, the book can just as easily be read in bites and chunks of your choosing, almost as a reference. Each chapter is sufficiently modular, and they all stand on their own as vignettes of a particular slice of New York in a particular time. I spent another four years in New York, and in 2018 I packed up to move again, this time to the Midwest. It would have felt appropriate to finish the book as I said goodbye for the second time, but I had over 400 pages left! I kept reading, and two years later, life decided to keep me in Chicago instead of taking me back east. Nonetheless, almost exactly six years after picking it up, I finally finished "Gotham." New York is a difficult city to be in. It's epic in proportion, bustling, and anonymous; even as a resident it's sometimes hard to feel like you truly belong here, like you're really a part of the city and not just some anonymous bystander. For many, New York means breakneck pace, shoebox apartments, and urban loneliness in the thickets of the concrete jungle. I was lucky to have had a different experience. Instead of a incoherent mess of humanity, for me the streets of New York are filled with personal and intimate memories. And I also had Wallace and Burrow to thank for making New York a little less strange and mysterious, and a little more knowable. From each chapter I learned about communities in my neighborhood before me, how skyscrapers, parks, and subways were built, and how the politicos, captains of industry, and immigrants of New York shaped the city in their image. PS: in the fall of 2017, around back when I was on page 800 in the fall of 2017, Mike Wallace published volume II. The story picks up from 1898 to 1919 in the follow-up "Greater Gotham," weighing in at a svelte 4.6 lbs. For now I'm in no rush to dive back in, maybe the time will be right if or when I move back to New York in some later chapter of my life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    William Buniak

    "Whew!", I have finally finished it. I have been wrestling in my mind between whether giving this book 4 stars or 5 stars when I neared the end of this book (when I was around page 500 or so, I picked up steam in completing it during the last few days). The 4 star rating appeared appropriate at a time when I felt that I was never going to near the end of this book, that I have taken up a task of Sysiphian proportions. But then I realized I was rating a book not on it's merits, but on the attitude "Whew!", I have finally finished it. I have been wrestling in my mind between whether giving this book 4 stars or 5 stars when I neared the end of this book (when I was around page 500 or so, I picked up steam in completing it during the last few days). The 4 star rating appeared appropriate at a time when I felt that I was never going to near the end of this book, that I have taken up a task of Sysiphian proportions. But then I realized I was rating a book not on it's merits, but on the attitude I adopted from the inefficient approach I had for reading this book. And so, I adorned this book with the 5 star rating and here is why. This book offered me a complete view of "Gotham" from its genesis to creation of the metropolitan colossus encompassing all the boroughs that is known the world round today. The context of every event that ever took place in that 300 square mile piece of land was explained in a very entertaining, inviting prose. A nigh exhausting amount of details are present that gave me insight of all aspects of the city from the political happenings, to the life and thoughts of every day residents. I feel incredibly rewarded with the fact that I am endowed with knowledge of the history of a city which's residents are rarely inclined to seek out. If only more New Yorkers sought this book so that they can see what happened in the past that led New York to be the juggernaut it is now. For the experience and knowledge I acquired from this book, I reward it with 5 stars. Just a warning to would be readers, do not read this book all at once. If your enjoyment is hampered not by the content, but only because of the thought that you have been reading this books for hour upon hour with no end in sight, stop reading, find another book, finish it, and then come back to this one. You would only be missing out on the richness of the content offered in "Gotham".

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    A sprawling subject needs an angle. Wallace & Burrows', I was surprised to find, is ideological: Their history of New York City is the history of its class struggle. Almost every chapter takes on the POV of a class formation (capital, labor, or the middling classes), then follows it through a change in some facet of political, social, or economic life. I'm on board with this method, but franker cover copy would be a favor to the reader. The result is a very full-fiber, whole-grain sort of history A sprawling subject needs an angle. Wallace & Burrows', I was surprised to find, is ideological: Their history of New York City is the history of its class struggle. Almost every chapter takes on the POV of a class formation (capital, labor, or the middling classes), then follows it through a change in some facet of political, social, or economic life. I'm on board with this method, but franker cover copy would be a favor to the reader. The result is a very full-fiber, whole-grain sort of history. I learned a tremendous amount. What I'll retain is probably through prior familiarity with the city's institutions and landscape. The pleasures are familiar, low-key but constantly repeated-- especially that of marking origins (e.g.: "That's who Hoyt and Schermerhorn were!" "That's how we got Northern Boulevard!"). That's appropriate for a book that wants to center morally on the value of everyday life and everyday people.

  25. 5 out of 5

    v

    Like a Midtown skyscraper, this is an astounding achievement. Also like a Midtown skyscraper, I'm going to basically avoid being around it, admiringly look at it from a distance, and tell people I've been to it if they care enough to ask. No, I don't read history very often. I was glad to hear, however, for the 70th time that New York City's economy was improving/declining after [event], which helps to contextualize some quirky occurrence that probably includes a bawdy woman or sailor. Approacha Like a Midtown skyscraper, this is an astounding achievement. Also like a Midtown skyscraper, I'm going to basically avoid being around it, admiringly look at it from a distance, and tell people I've been to it if they care enough to ask. No, I don't read history very often. I was glad to hear, however, for the 70th time that New York City's economy was improving/declining after [event], which helps to contextualize some quirky occurrence that probably includes a bawdy woman or sailor. Approachably written, brimming with modern sensibility, and inevitably the same six or seven damned things one after the other, which is plain if you read more than one chapter in one sitting. After a whole year and a move to the city, I had to surrender circa 1840.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    The Parade magazine review kind of nails it (in addition to being a wonderful passive-aggressive bit of urbophobia): "If NYC is a great city, then it deserves a great book". This book actually is crucial reading even if your own personal jury is up in the air about whether NY is Bablyon/Sodom/Cloud City/pick a master urban metaphor. This ish jumpstarted my love affair with america. DOWNTOWN PRINT IT. Fun fact: this book has taken me most of four months to finish (as a bedtime reading book, but s The Parade magazine review kind of nails it (in addition to being a wonderful passive-aggressive bit of urbophobia): "If NYC is a great city, then it deserves a great book". This book actually is crucial reading even if your own personal jury is up in the air about whether NY is Bablyon/Sodom/Cloud City/pick a master urban metaphor. This ish jumpstarted my love affair with america. DOWNTOWN PRINT IT. Fun fact: this book has taken me most of four months to finish (as a bedtime reading book, but still).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeni Enjaian

    This book is absolutely massive. I love the fact that the book is so large and yet does not include over a hundred years of the city's history. If the authors read these reviews, I would absolutely love to read a book covering the years since 1898. Wallace and Burrows cover an immense amount of history without getting lost in the detail. At the same time they leave the reader wanting even more. The authors definitely deserve the Pulitzer Prize for their deft, comprehensive history. I found this This book is absolutely massive. I love the fact that the book is so large and yet does not include over a hundred years of the city's history. If the authors read these reviews, I would absolutely love to read a book covering the years since 1898. Wallace and Burrows cover an immense amount of history without getting lost in the detail. At the same time they leave the reader wanting even more. The authors definitely deserve the Pulitzer Prize for their deft, comprehensive history. I found this book to be absolutely fabulous. I highly recommend this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    S.

    always nice to get a nice fat gift... 1200 pages or was it 2000, anyway immense. Burrows is too hard on himself, in his acknowledgements points out that he feels like a "plagiarist" even when he knows he is merely synthesising... way too hard for the book has a dramatic unity and truly wrist-twisting length. the perfect time killer, and now I know why its called Pearl Street... who Livingston was, etc... lots of NYC history always nice to get a nice fat gift... 1200 pages or was it 2000, anyway immense. Burrows is too hard on himself, in his acknowledgements points out that he feels like a "plagiarist" even when he knows he is merely synthesising... way too hard for the book has a dramatic unity and truly wrist-twisting length. the perfect time killer, and now I know why its called Pearl Street... who Livingston was, etc... lots of NYC history

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jon Boorstin

    This remarkable re-discovery of the ins and outs of New York in its infancy and early teens. If you love modern New York, you owe it to yourself to buy this book and leave it by your bedside. Leafing through it will make every encounter with today's New York feel like a shadow of the real New York, New York before it was captured by the skyscrapers. This remarkable re-discovery of the ins and outs of New York in its infancy and early teens. If you love modern New York, you owe it to yourself to buy this book and leave it by your bedside. Leafing through it will make every encounter with today's New York feel like a shadow of the real New York, New York before it was captured by the skyscrapers.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Willow Croft

    This book was an incredible read. So immersive that I could have read it in one sitting if I didn't need things like sleep! Some of the history I knew but the presentation tied it all together and made the history I knew (and the history I didn't) flow in cohesive, multidimensional and fascinating patterns. Fascinating and would highly recommend! This book was an incredible read. So immersive that I could have read it in one sitting if I didn't need things like sleep! Some of the history I knew but the presentation tied it all together and made the history I knew (and the history I didn't) flow in cohesive, multidimensional and fascinating patterns. Fascinating and would highly recommend!

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