American Metropolis: A History of New York City

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9780814751497: American Metropolis: A History of New York City

Magnet for the ambitious, lodestone for talented and oppressed alike, Mecca for businessmen and immigrants, New York City has presided for over 350 years as the critical center of American life. From its origins as a primitive Dutch outpost to the sprawling urban complex it is today, the defining characteristic of New York has been continuous, dramatic, and rapid change.

Historian George J. Lankevich's volume concentrates on political and economic affairs, illustrating how New York has always combined principle and pragmatism in its role as pace-setter in business communications, education, urban policy, and cultural life. American Metropolis is loosely divided into three historical epochs, each spanning roughly one of the last three centuries. In its early years, New York was defined by trial and tribulation; wars, fires, rebellions, and revolution were guiding influences on the colonial port. Nineteenth-century New York history was dominated by heroic figures in the form of bosses, reformers, merchant princes and statesmen, by enormous population increases, and by the achievement of commercial, financial, and cultural supremacy. For much of the twentieth century, greater New York, plagued by crime, white flight, fiscal trauma, and decay, embodied the nation's urban crisis. Its current Renaissance stands as fresh testimony to its characteristic vitality and resilience.

Emphasizing the cyclical nature of New York's history through tides of crisis and renewal, George J. Lankevich here offers the definitive short history of America's most important and vibrant metropolis. By understanding the history of New York, we obtain a vital sense of what America was, is, and can become.

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About the Author:

George J. Lankevich has written more than thirty books, has contributed many articles to The Encyclopedia of New York City, and is the author of Postcards from Times Square, Postcards from Manhattan, and New York City: A Short History (NYU Press). Professor emeritus of history at Bronx Community College, he lives in Manhasset, New York.

From Publishers Weekly:

There is no city in the world more colorful than New York, and Lankevich, a retired history professor and contributor to The Encyclopedia of New York City, offers a detailed, absorbing narrative of the city that starts in 1524 with its initial discovery by Giovanni da Verrazano. The early history of New York is that of the country, as it was a hotbed of action during the Revolutionary War and the nation's first capital. During the 19th century many dramatic events made their impression on the city: mass immigration; the building of the Erie Canal; and the advent of the city's massive aqueduct and reservoir system. But the thing that Lankevich does so well is to link the city's politicians to their epoch. We have Boss Tweed, a man of mass corruption, who also made major contributions in the areas of fire prevention, education and the arts. The early part of the century is defined here by Mayor George B. McClellan Jr.'s organizational muscle, while the '30s are not called (as they so often are) the Depression Era, but rather "The La Guardia Era," after the enormously popular mayor. These mayors were followed by rogues (William O'Dwyer), bunglers (John Lindsay, Abe Beame, David Dinkins) and showmen (Ed Koch). Plenty of information on New York's infrastructure, and on its international importance?both as a cultural/financial center and as a home for immigrants?make this a terrific primer on the Big Apple. 20 photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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George J. Lankevich
Published by NYU Press (1998)
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