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.