- How to Read New York: A Crash Course in Big Apple Architecture by Will Jones
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Rizzoli (February 21, 2012)
- ISBN-13: 978-0789324900
What the book is about (back-of-the-book blurb): Essential reading for both native New Yorkers and tourists alike, How to Read New York unveils the boundless diversity of Gotham’s architectural wonders. Covering every era of New York architecture—from what remains of the colonial days to the latest postmodern skyscraper—this unique guidebook illuminates the fascinating architectural and urban history of New York.
Organized chronologically and by architectural style, the book covers key highlights of the built environment from the Battery to Inwood. Many of the skyline’s most iconic buildings are included, along with many lesser-known buildings that are architecturally interesting. Charmingly illustrated with 430 line drawings and vintage engravings that bring old New York to life, the book concludes with a map section that suggests themed walking tours.
What would I say to a friend who asked me about it: I put this book on my “to be read” list as soon as it came into the bookshop in February. Its compact size (about 6 x 5 inches) makes it easy to tuck into a tote and take along to the Big Apple. It’s also fun for armchair travelers – each double-page spread lists the name of the building, year built, and architect. A full paragraph describes the building, sketches break out architectural highlights, and a large photo completes the write-up.
The books is subtly divided into section by style: classical and colonial, Rennaisance, early modernist, and modern and post-modern, with a one-page map of highlights for each. There’s a complete index, helpful glossary, and brief bios of prominent architects.
Check out this “fun fact” from the paragraph about the Flatiron Building (originally known as the Fuller Building):
Following the building’s opening, a new phenomenon came to light. The structure funneled wind upwards at its base and ladies’ dresses were apt to blow up if they were caught there at a blustery moment. The phrase “23 skiddo” (the building is on the corner at 23rd street) is said to have been coined by police officers posted to deter opportunist young men from loitering, waiting to catch a glimpse of naked thigh!
What else can I add: I’m writing this post before I leave for a trip to New York for BookExpo America. I’m bringing How to Read New York along in my bag, for those fun times when Beth Fish Reads and I explore the city (I’m also bringing a compass, based on past experience and my terrible sense of direction!).
Rizzoli, the publisher, has a bookstore in Manhattan; maybe we can lose ourselves there! It’s listed on my companion blog, Spotlight on NYC Bookstores (which needs input – I’m soliciting Spotlight posts for NYC bookstores!).