American Metropolis: A History of New York City

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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 ...

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New York, NY, U.S.A. 1998 Hardcover Very Good. No Jacket Ex-Library This ex-library book has its front free endpaper removed, remains of security sticker on inside front cover, ... library barcode on front cover, library stamp on title page, and library reference number on spine. Rest of book is clean and tight. Read more Show Less

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Here, as in New York itself, may be found everything and everyone."

-The New York Times Book Review,

"The best one volume history of the nation's largest city... Anyone interested in New York should begin with American Metropolis."

-David M. Reimers,Professor of History, New York University

"Writing a complete, detailed, readable history of New York City is a formidable task but George Lankevich has done it! His book is a valuable contribution to the study of our nation's greatest city."

-Selma Berrol,Professor Emerita, The City University of New York

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.
Library Journal
Written by a retired CUNY professor who has published widely on the topic, this highly readable narrative history of the Big Apple should be welcomed by general readers. If accompanied by supplementary materials, it could also serve as a useful textbook for college courses on American urban life. The book presents the key developments, from New York's Dutch origins to the present mayoral administration of Rudy Giuliani, packing an amazing amount of factual information into each brief, chronological chapter. Tracing the city's history through the larger prism of the nation's development, the book includes discussion of New York's role in the Revolution and in the life of the early republic as well as the origin of Wall Street and its special role in American political history. Immigrant life; economic growth, decline, and rebirth; the Harlem Renaissance; the age of bossism; and colorful personalities like Jimmy Walker and Ed Koch all find a place in these fact-filled pages. -- Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell College, Livingston, New Jersey
David Walton
It would be hard to write a dull history of New York City, but it is harder to encompass its many changing roles as port, commercial and cultural center, its colorful social and political history, its...ingrained acceptance of its own inoperability.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814751480
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Pages: 273
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet 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.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 New Amsterdam Becomes New York 1
2 An English Town Becomes an American City 11
3 National Capital City 49
4 Building a Modern City 69
5 The Age of the Bosses 91
6 America's First Metropolis 112
7 Governing the World's Greatest City 138
8 The La Guardia Era 161
9 The Long Slide 181
10 Disaster and Rebirth 105
11 Contemporary New York 130
Appendixes 155
Bibliography 161
Index 167
About the Author 173
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