Cover image for New York : an illustrated history
New York : an illustrated history
Burns, Ric.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1999.
Physical Description:
xv, 575 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 30 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F128.3 .N585 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
F128.3 .N585 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Local History
F128.3 .N585 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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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 book brims 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.

Author Notes

Ric Burns is best known for his work on the acclaimed PBS series The Civil War, which he produced with his brother, Ken Burns, and wrote with Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, and for which he received two Emmy Awards and the Producer of the Year award of the Producers Guild of America. Since 1990, he has directed for public television the award-winning documentaries Coney Island, The Donner Party, and The Way West.
James Sanders, an architect, has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, and Architectural Record. He has completed design and development projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Parks Council, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and other civic groups and commercial clients in New York and Los Angeles.
Lisa Ades has produced with Ric Burns several awardwinning films for public television, including The Way West, a six-hour documentary broadcast nationally on PBS, and The Donner Party, which received Peabody and D.W. Griffith awards. Before coproducing Coney Island in 1990, she was a producer at New York's public television station WNET.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The latest PBS documentary epic, which premieres in November, wraps its 12-hour-long arms around Gotham, recently the subject of a well-received scholarly history (Gotham, by Edwin Burrows and Mike Wallace, 1998). Gotham may have been the burg's first nickname, conferred on it by Washington Irving in the 1820s when the city, by then commercially out-legging rival East Coast ports, began to take interest in its history. In Burns' hands, that history is cause for celebration of the de facto world capital the city has become. Several themes naturally structure his narrative: the city's capitalistic spirit, dating from the Dutch colonists; countercurrents of social movements; the city's immigrant and ethnic tapestry; its cultural fluorescences; and its constructed environment of buildings, bridges, and tunnels. Of these, the constructions are the most visible characters in Burns' drama, as they have been to any visitor or resident since Peter Stuyvesant commanded a defensive wall be built. Hundreds of images, many iconic, for example, the ironworkers on the Empire State Building, represent the continual building site Manhattan is, and such builders as DeWitt Clinton, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Robert Moses consequently rival in historical prominence the collection of crooks and reformers who have been the city's politicians. An impressively assembled album that handsomely shows off the city's magnificence. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

A companion to an upcoming PBS series, this lavishly illustrated history is an engaging and intelligent work in its own right, presenting a coherent overview without ever glossing over thorny historical or political questions. By supplementing their well-researched text with photographs, paintings, newspaper headlines and interviews with historians and social critics, Burns (The Civil War, with Ken Burns) and Sanders have produced a volume that is as attractive as it is perceptive. Arranged chronologically, the book manages to capture some of the diverse elementsÄsuch as the immigrant communities, labor unrest, traditional and avant-garde cultures, crime and architecture, among other factorsÄthat continue to play important roles in the city's evolution. For example, the section on Greenwich Village, "The Republic of Washington Square," contains a succinct history of the area as a cultural engine, with rare photographs and illuminating quotes from Edmund Wilson and Floyd Dell. The section on the Harlem Renaissance provides a comprehensive analysis of the movement's development and importance, aptly illustrated and contextualized with an interview with David Levering Lewis. Burns and Sanders have successfully marshaled a huge amount of material into a format that is informative and highly entertaining. BOMC History Book Club selection. (Nov.) FYI: PBS will launch the 12-hour series New York on November 18. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The companion to a 12-hour PBS series on the city that never sleeps. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Carol BerkinMike WallaceDaniel CzitromKenneth T. JacksonDavid Levering LewisRobert A. M. SternRobert A. CaroMarshall BermanPhillip Lopate
Introduction: City of Desirep. x
1. The Country and the City, 1609-1825p. 2
Alexander Hamilton, the New Yorker with a National Visionp. 62
2. Order and Disorder, 1825-1865p. 68
"The Locomotive of These United States"p. 131
3. Sunshine and Shadow, 1865-1898p. 138
The Secrets of the Great Cityp. 210
4. The Power and the People, 1898-1919p. 216
Where the Modern World Took Shape, 1898-1929p. 300
5. Cosmopolis, 1919-1931p. 308
Harlem Renaissancep. 388
Cosmopolitan Capital: New York in the 1920sp. 391
6. The City of Tomorrow, 1931-1939p. 394
Robert Moses: The Power Brokerp. 458
7. The City and the World, 1939-1969p. 466
The Lonely Crowd: New York After the Warp. 536
Trauma, Apocalypse, Boom, Aftermath: New York City in the Last Twenty-five Yearsp. 542
Epilogue: City of the Millenniump. 550
Acknowledgmentsp. 555
Selected Bibliographyp. 556
Indexp. 561
Illustration and Text Creditsp. 574