Cover image for Picturing New York : the city from its beginnings to the present
Picturing New York : the city from its beginnings to the present
Deák, Gloria-Gilda, 1930-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xii, 415 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F128.3 .D38 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
F128.3 .D38 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



As every reader knows, New York defies any single attempt to take its measure. Here is a unique approach: a single-volume, thematically organized history of the city filled with prints, paintings, and photographs--many in full color--that make the book a feast for the eye.

The book consists of fourteen mini-histories, each of which can be read independently of the others. The author explores the city's multiple birth (it was named and renamed five times, and was originally known as Angoulême, not as New Amsterdam as most people believe). Deák covers the religious pluralism the city enjoyed as a scruffy Atlantic trading post, the marketing and merchandising that propelled its development, and the rise of the arts, literature, architecture, and sports. Throughout, the author attempts to answer the beguiling question: Was New York unique from the beginning?

Readers will find:

* The map recording the visit of the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano to Manhattan Island, circa 1540

* The print depicting the defensive barricade, built in 1653 by Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant, which gave Wall Street its name

* Artists' renditions of a bucolic ninteenth-century Brooklyn--before bridges transformed it into an extension of the Manhattan megalopolis

* An 1892 planning sketch of the Grand Concourse, the Bronx's principal boulevard, intended to simulate the grandeur of Parisian roadways and ultimately to outclass Manhattan.

Comments from observers as diverse as Alexis de Tocqueville, Frances Trollope, Fanny Kemble, Charles Dickens, Sarah Bernhardt, Leon Trotsky, Fernand Leger, and W. H. Auden create an immediate sense of time and place and animate an already lively work.

Author Notes

Gloria Deák is an independent scholar of American art and cultural affairs. Her writings include Picturing America (a two-volume work that won the 1990 ALA Award for Distinguished Scholarship), American Views: Prospects and Vistas, and Profiles of American Artists.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

De k, an independent scholar of American art and cultural affairs, has written an engaging history of New York City filled with prints, paintings, and vintage photographs that greatly enhance the text. While admitting that the city defies any single effort to take its measure, she has nevertheless succeeded in presenting a straightforward account of its progress from a scruffy Atlantic Coast trading post in the 17th century to a great metropolis at the turn of the millennium. Organized into 14 vignettes, as De k calls them, the book takes up the growth of the seaport, the development of manufacturing, and the expansion of banking, insurance, and stock trading. It depicts the city as the nation's center of the arts, theater, other popular entertainment, and publishing. Recommended for New York City collections in academic and larger public libraries.DHarry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Deak provides a visual chronicle of New York City (NYC) from its origins as a Dutch trading post to its present status as the US's foremost metropolis. An independent scholar, Deak examines the city's cultural history with 14 essays and 180 figures. The work's goal is not to provide a new interpretive perspective of NYC's history, but to weave illustrations and a "factual overview" together into a compelling story. In telling this history, Deak draws on a wide range of recent interpretations. The work is organized both chronologically and thematically with each chapter presenting a vignette of people, places, and events that played key roles in NYC's history. Deak deftly explores topics that range from the emergence of Broadway as the city's most fashionable thoroughfare to the daily struggles of the city's recent immigrants. Historians who have made the author's previous work, Picturing America, 1497-1899 (CH, Jun'89), a starting point for their investigations of material cultur e will find this collection useful. Meticulously researched and well illustrated, this work is more accessible than John A. Kouwenhoven's The Columbia Historical Portrait of New York (1953), which is no longer in print. General and undergraduate collections. T. D. Beal SUNY College at Oneonta

Table of Contents

1 A Multiple Birth
The European Discovery and Naming of Manhattan: Angoulême, New Amsterdam, New York, New Orange, and Forever After, New York
1 A Multireligious Destiny
The Early Establishment of Religious Pluralism in Churches and Schools
3 Seafaring Splendor
The Shaping of New York's Destiny as a World-Class Seaport
4 Merchant Princes
The Lure of Marketing, Merchandising, and Moneymaking
5 Peopling New York
Asia, Europe, and Africa Transplanted
6 A City of Contrasts
Ascent of the Rich and Struggles of the Poor
7 Broadway
The Metamorphosis of a Manhattan Street
8 Brooklyn and Staten Island
The People, Parks, and Ambience
9 The Bronx and Queens
The People, Parks and Ambience
10 Politicians for all Seasons
11 Triumphs of Architecture and Urban Engineering
Buildings, Bridges, Parks, and the City's Underground
12 Painting, Theater, Music, and Dance
New York's Rise as an International Center in All Phases of the Arts
13 Communication as Art and as Industry
Literature, Newspapers, Printing, and Publishing
14 Sports for all Seasons and all Fans
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Picture Credits