New York The Encyclopedia of New York City

ISBN 13: 9780300055368

The Encyclopedia of New York City

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9780300055368: The Encyclopedia of New York City

The only reference book of its kind offers a wealth of entertaining facts about New York from prehistory to the present, containing more than four thousand entries on a wide range of topics, along with hundreds of illustrations and maps. UP.

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Review:

McSorley's Old Ale House? Park Slope? Madame Restell? Pfaff's Cellar? CBGB? Look 'em up... Just about anyplace or anyone notable in New York is contained in this huge book, which is roughly the size of the Manhattan white pages. The Encyclopedia of New York City is a fitting tribute to the city it both documents and celebrates: it's a sprawling and endlessly interesting read. This unique project was supervised by the New York Historical Society, and boasts more than 4300 alphabetical entries (with hundreds of illustrations) spanning 1300 pages--a feast of facts. You're not sure when New York's first subway opened? Don't know the capacity of Ebbett's Field? Can't place "Dead Man's Curve?" Puh-leeeze... just look it up!

From Booklist:

The premier metropolis and cultural capital of the U.S. now has its own encyclopedia. More than a decade in the making, this collaborative effort between Yale University Press and the New York Historical Society has been edited by the distinguished urban historian Kenneth T. Jackson, chair of the history department at Columbia University. It contains more than 4,000 entries by more than 650 contributors, many of whom are recognized authorities on their subjects (e.g., Martin Marty on religion, Arnold Rampersad on the Harlem Renaissance, Marion R. Casey on the Irish, Sean Wilentz on labor, Phyllis Dain on libraries, and George Chauncey on gays). The five boroughs, more than 400 neighborhoods, and various ethnic and religious groups each get individual articles. In the case of restaurants, magazines, buildings, or business firms, the choice of subjects is highly selective. The people covered were chosen on the basis of important connections with the city; the entry on Thomas Jefferson focuses on the six months he spent there in 1790.

Longer articles (a page or more) cover such subjects as the alternative press, saloons, histories of the city, slavery, theater, architecture, science, communism, and cosmetics. In addition to an article on public health are ones on occupational health, developmental disabilities, and mental health. There are biographies for Captain Kidd, William Kunstler, and Donna Karan (but not Claude McKay, Meyer Berger, or B. H. Haggin) and for Ruth, Gehrig, and Jackie Robinson (but not DiMaggio, Mantle, or Mays). Items of "New Yorkiana" get their entries: automats, bagels and egg creams, cockroaches, and graffiti. A number of tables and lists bring elusive information conveniently together: daily newspapers, English and foreign-language; changes to the city charter; presidential election returns for the city and boroughs; and ticker-tape parades.

While some original material has been contributed, the intent is to summarize current scholarship; many articles conclude with brief bibliographies, arranged by date of publication. The encyclopedia is beautifully illustrated with expertly selected black-and-white photographs and maps. At the back are a section of notes on contributors and a name index listing persons not having an individual entry. (One can therefore find Sidney Biddle Barrows but not a topic like "decentralization," which is covered in the entry Public Schools). It is difficult to think of topics that should have had an entry (proportional representation in city elections? Jesuits?), and even typographical slips are rare (the restaurant critic appears as Seymour "Britchkey" ).

This encyclopedia is an outstanding and long-needed contribution to reference publishing. Not just of local interest, it will be an indispensable resource wherever there is curiosity about the history, culture, and diverse life of our nation's greatest city.

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