Skip to main content

20 (More) New Books for New York, New York

As soon as I finished compiling a list of books for the post, Required City Reading: 25 New Books for New York, New York, published in early November, many more titles presented themselves. Some were published later, but other notable books appeared earlier in the year. A few came out in 2009, but the paperback is now available. As with the former list, these are titles that involve New York as a prominent setting.

• Thomas Kramer, New York in Postcards 1880:1980: The Andreas Adam Collection (Scheidegger & Spiess; University of Chicago Press, October 2010). The 900 postcards, culled from an enormous personal collection, reveal historical changes, lost landmarks, and the modern cultural history of New York, from one style and art movement to another.

• Norval White, Elliot Willensky, and Fran Leadon, AIA Guide to New York City (Oxford, June 2010). The most indispensable guide to New York architecture, frequently cited on these pages, is now significantly updated to include new buildings and new thoughts on old buildings. Witty, opinionated and educational, required reading for anyone interested in the built environment of New York.

• The Staff of the New York Historical Society Library, When Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green?: And 101 Other Questions About New York City. (Columbia University Press, September 2010). FAQs to the Library's staff and their answers. Humorous and informative urban history.

• Reuel Golden, NEW YORK: Portrait of a City (Taschen, September 2010). Coffee table book with 600 pictures by famous photographers and from several archives of the metropolis from 19th century days to the present.

• James Sturm and Brandon Elston, editors, Denys Wortman's New York: Portrait of the City in the 30s and 40s (Drawn and Quarterly, November 2010). Cartoonist Wortman is not well-known, but these vivid drawings of vintage New York are worth a full appreciation,

• Danielle Trussoni, Angelology. (Viking, March 2010). The story centers on fallen and bad angels, some of them living in Manhattan. When you're tired of vampires and zombies, try bad angels cavorting with the Rockefellers.

• Kenneth T. Jackson, editor, The Encyclopedia of New York City: Second Edition (Yale, December 2010). Epic work on the city includes 800 new entries. Its 1,584 pages address most all the questions about the city. With 700 illustrations, too.

• Mosette Broderick, Triumvirate: McKim, Mead & White: Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class in America's Gilded Age (Knopf, October 2010) A new story and analysis of the one of the most influential architecture firms of the turn of the century, with emphasis on the differences among the three. The scandal mentioned in that title belongs to Stanford White.

• Larry Stempel, Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater (W.W. Norton & Company, September 2010). Beginning with the Astor Place Opera House riot of 1849, Stempel traces the evolution of one of America's best-known art forms, while illuminating the themes of the most important musicals. A hefty tome with 826 pages.

Jazz: Herman Leonard (Bloomsbury, October 2010). Photographer Leonard opened a studio in Greenwich Village the the years following WWII, a golden age for the neighborhood and for its jazz scene. HIs images of Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and more have become the iconic images associated with the jazz greats.

Patti Smith, Just Kids (Ecco/HarperColllins, November 2010, paper) Now in paperback, the memoir by rock legend Smith has won a National Book Award. Here's the New York of Hotel Chelsea, the punk scene, William Burroughs, and most of all, a friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Edmund White, City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and 20s (Bloomsbury, September 2010). Now in paperback, novelist White's account of his move to Manhattan in 1962, encountering a changing gay culture, the city's literati, and his own literary ambitions.

Jim Carroll, The Petting Zoo (Viking, November 2010). A posthumous novel from the writer best known for The Basketball Diaries centers on the story of a painter's emotional breakdown. The famous artist's first meltdown occurs in the Central Park's petting zoo. A visit from a raven will soon follow.

 • Sam Wesson, Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman (Harper Studio, June 2010). A social history of the making of a quintessential movie associated with glamorous New York. The film's director, Blake Edwards, passed away this week. (Walking Off the Big Apple's take on Capote's version of Holly Golightly appears here.)

• Amanda Hesser, Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Norton, October 2010). Those with the old Craig Claiborne New York Times Cookbook will get a whole new experience with this volume, though Claiborne appears, too. This is one ambitious cookbook, as much fun to read in the living room as in the kitchen.

Vivian Cherry's New York (powerHouse Books, November 2010). Fifty years of surprising photographs of New Yorkers. Sometimes, it's one thing to shoot New York scenes, and a whole other thing to capture the people who live here. Cherry, a former dancer, knows how people react to their spaces.

Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City's Lower East Side by Michael Codella and Bruce Bennett (Thomas Dunne Books, November 2010). Back in the 1980s, the drug trade often made life difficult for longtime residents on the Lower East Side. Codella, a retired NYPD detective sergeant, writes a noir-ish account of the battle for the neighborhood.

• Patrice Farame, editor, AAD New York: Art Architecture Design (teNeues, November 2010). Great-looking guide to art, museums, art galleries, and architectural landmarks, listing the must-see stops for NYC cultural travelers.

• Phoebe Hoban, Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty (St. Martin's Press, December 2010). Artist Neel (1900-1984), best known for her uncompromising portraiture, is a good subject for Hoban's smart gaze. A 2007 documentary made by her grandson and a 2010 retrospective in Houston have sustained an interest Neel's art, politics, and personal life.

• Debbie Macomber, Call Me Mrs. Miracle (Mira, September 2010). Set in the only independent family department store left in New York, on 34th Street no less, the story involves greed and poverty and holiday wishes. Suitable for those who like Hallmark specials and tales described as "heart-warming."





Popular posts from this blog

The Lonesome Metropolis: A Walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center

As New York City reopens, why do the attractions of the great metropolis still look mostly deserted on a summer morning? A morning walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center sought to address this question. As it turns out, there are several adequate explanations. But for what happens next, there are no right answers.

Many neighborhoods outside of tourist New York are still buzzing along. While some residents of wealthier neighborhoods have largely decamped to mountain cabins, beach houses, and other second homes, the less wealthy have nowhere to go and may still be working. Just visit Washington Heights or Corona or Flatbush, and you’ll see sidewalks full of shoppers and summer evening street partiers. Those who fled the city remain only a fraction of the total population.  

Other renowned parts of the city such as City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge have been frequently occupied, as in Occupied, with crowds protesting police violence. This week, NYPD officers in riot gear remove…

The City Turned Inside Out: A Walk from Battery Park to Fulton Street

While the cast of HAMILTON sings “The World Turned Upside Down,” New Yorkers could easily hum along to “The City Turned Inside Out” this summer. (not a real song) Where once a city’s important work took place indoors - within the soaring office buildings, famous restaurants, legendary museums, and storied performance halls, the COVID-19 epidemic has literally turned the residents outdoors. 

At least it’s summer in the city, when spending time outdoors is common and pleasant enough. Still, the city remains strange this summer of 2020. 

With the absence of tourists, and with office workers connecting virtually from home, many of the city’s main attractions aren’t attracting many visitors. A walk from the Battery to Fulton Street on a pleasant Thursday afternoon bore this out. 

It’s uplifting to at least find plants that are alive and happy. Thanks to the city’s gardeners and landscapers, the city parks are looking particularly lush and splendid this summer. The grounds of Battery Park feel…

The Company of Nature: Walking With Butterflies in Fort Tryon Park

If wandering the empty urban canyons feels a little lonely and depressing, a better idea would be to head to the nearest park. This past Saturday, a day that was sunny but not too hot, Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan turned out to be the perfect place to not only satisfy wanderlust but to rediscover the company of nature. Butterflies were there. Hundreds of butterflies - Tiger Swallowtails, Monarch Butterflies, Black Swallowtails, Cabbage White Butterflies, and Silver Spotted Skippers, among them. Moths, too, although I have not yet learned their names.  The Heather Garden is situated just beyond the entrance to Fort Tryon Park. With seasonal plantings, the garden is always a serene spot.  Observing butterflies involves watching their interaction with blooming flowers and shrubs. The Tiger Swallowtails are easy to find and found here in significant numbers. Just look for the Butterfly Bushes. The Cabbage White Butterflies are here in abundance, too, though not as showy as the swallow…

A Morning Walk from Pandemic Station to Pandemic Square

Penn Station to Times Square
New York City entered a new phase of the reopening on Monday, but you would never know it from a morning walk in Midtown on the day after. 

After running an errand near Penn Station, I decided to take a walk up to Times Square and Broadway before heading home from 59th Street and Columbus Circle. 

I wasn’t altogether prepared for the sights and sounds of this time and this place. Like many other New Yorkers, I have rarely left my neighborhood for the past four months. 

After exiting a quiet Penn Station near 8th Avenue and W. 33rd Street at what would normally be the end of rush hour, I found myself suddenly dropped into a city (mostly) bereft of crowds. 

Yet, I had been here before. A long time ago, I road my bike a few times through Times Square at dawn on a Sunday morning in summertime, and just a few people were there. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I remember wandering around a brightly lit Times Square near sunset and then looking down the avenue to…

A Time of Soft Reopenings and Cautionary Travel

As the pandemic crisis lessens in New York State, several NYC attractions are scheduling their reopenings. What will open, and how will you get there? This list will be updated following official announcements.
UPDATED August 3, 2020. With the state of New York currently ahead of the class in the pandemic outbreak across the US, many places have started to reopen. The rollout is designed to be gradual, with geographic regions advancing according to a fixed set of metrics. 
New York City, the hardest hit area in the first months of the crisis, entered Phase 4 on Monday, July 20. The local exception: indoors of malls, restaurants, and cultural institutions.

Openings     
Phase 3 began in NYC on July 6. Allowed: retail stores; personal care nail salons, massage, etc.; outdoor recreation; dog runs. NO indoor dining!
Phase 4 began in NYC on July 20. Stay outside! (Forward.ny.gov)
• Restaurants: Consult this NYC Department of Transportation map (updated link) for restaurants currently open in NYC…

From Manhattan to the Bronx: A Walk Over the Henry Hudson Bridge to Henry Hudson Park

At the tiptop of Manhattan Island, Inwood Hill Park offers picturesque views of the Hudson River. For one of the best views, follow the marker at Shorakkopoch Rock (see map at the end of the post), the legendary place where Peter Minuit was said to have bought the island for 60 guilders, and follow the ridge up the slope. The path leads gently higher and higher, with views of the Salt Marsh down below and then the underside of the Henry Hudson Bridge above. This spot along the ridge is well known among birders, as the height and the proximity to the Hudson River allow access to treetops and places where birds like to go. 

Keep going around the bend and past the bridge. A few spots of open pavement at the edge of the hill provide good views of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, a swing bridge that carries train traffic to and from Penn Station. The bridge was recently upgraded. On the opposite shore of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, you’ll likely see Metro-North trains coming round the bend, either he…

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City.


The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington.


First, catch a Metro-North Hudson line train to Dobbs Ferry, a village in southern Westchester C…

Starstruck at MoMA

(Update July 31, 2020. Please note: After reopening in 2019, MoMA is currently closed as a result of the pandemic. MoMA has not announced its reopening.) 
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Midtown Manhattan is undergoing a significant renovation and expansion that will increase gallery space by thirty percent upon completion in 2019. In the midst of renovation and following a long hot summer, the museum may currently look a little rough around the edges and even disorienting for longtime patrons. For starters, you’ll need to enter the museum on W. 54th Street instead of W. 53rd Street while the work is taking place, and the museum store is now currently on the second floor next to the coffee bar which has also moved.


This state of affairs didn’t stop visitors on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend from making a pilgrimage to the museum to gaze at treasures of modern art. In an age of quickly disposable digital imagery, the original and cherished works still exude their aura. Ironically,…

Delacroix’s Cats

Following its record-breaking debut at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the blockbuster Delacroix exhibit has opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While not all of the works could travel, as some are intrinsic to the Louvre, the big cats made the trip to the city. For the Delacroix exhibit poster, the Met has selected Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, the artist’s great and surprising painting from 1830, as the signature and defining work of the exhibition.


Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863), known as the leading Romantic painter of his era, loved cats. His many notebooks show preparatory sketches of lions, tigers, and several charming domestic cats. The big cats, for the most part, made it into big paintings. At 52 x 76.6 in. (130 x 195 cm), Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, 1830, is astonishingly large for an animal painting of his time, a size normally devoted to a history painting. His most famous work, La Liberté guidant le peuple, dates from the same year.�…

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Update: As of March 12, 2020, many New York arts institutions have temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Please see this post for announcements of reopenings.

Several museums in New York City are open on Mondays, including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney.

This list has been expanded to include free or pay-what-you-wish hours.


American Museum of Natural History Central Park West and 79th Street
See the post, Big Things to See at the American Museum of Natural History.
Cooper Hewitt
2 East 91st St.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave

Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Ave

Metropolitan Museum of Art 100 Fifth Avenue
See the post 25 Things To Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Met Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park is also open 7 days a week from March - October.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue

MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art), 11 West 53 Street: * Also, consult the post 25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern…