Apple's America: The Discriminating Traveler's Guide to 40 Great Cities in the United States and Canada

Apple's America: The Discriminating Traveler's Guide to 40 Great Cities in the United States and Canada

by Apple

Unpretentious, sophisticated, and always appetizing advice from a celebrated authority

For more than thirty years, R. W. Apple Jr. has roamed the United States as an eyewitness to history. Here, in Apple's America, his robust enthusiasm for the food and culture of New England, the South and West, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and his native Middle

…  See more details below


Unpretentious, sophisticated, and always appetizing advice from a celebrated authority

For more than thirty years, R. W. Apple Jr. has roamed the United States as an eyewitness to history. Here, in Apple's America, his robust enthusiasm for the food and culture of New England, the South and West, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and his native Middle West carries him to forty great cities, where he proves to be our ideal guide--amused and amusing, knowledgeable, indefatigable, and endlessly curious.

From Boston to Honolulu, from Montreal to Las Vegas, Cincinnati to Seattle, Johnny Apple explores the landmarks, architecture, business, culture, and, of course, the food and beverages of his favorite urban communities. Capturing the tone and style of American city life to perfection, he shows us the hidden treasures, the best buildings, the famous landmarks, the historical aura, and the present-day realities that make each city so memorable. And in each he recommends several places to stay, numerous places to eat, and sites or activities you shouldn't miss. No traveler in the United States will want to do without his recommendations.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Liesl Schillinger
Blending history, anecdote and reporting with morsels of local flavor, Apple creates a useful and recognizable miniature portrait of each city in only about 10 pages per. His voice is knowing but not supercilious, and when he feels enthusiasm he doesn't hesitate to show it. Charleston, he writes, ''has jasmine-scented streets and aristocratic houses'' whose porches (called piazzas by the locals) ''are positioned to catch ocean breezes.'' Describing the gardens at nearby Middleton Place, he gets downright poetic: they're ''anchored by a pair of lakes shaped like a butterfly's open wings.'' When visiting Vancouver, he tells us to ''conspire to arrive by ship'' because the city ''looks its best from the water, with its shiny glass towers rising like Xanadu against a backdrop of indigo peaks.'' Of the Wildwood restaurant in Portland, Ore., where he has feasted on sesame-crusted deep-fried oysters, he recalls, ''The last time we went (sigh!) the street outside was carpeted with fallen cherry blossoms.''
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Starred hotel reviews, restaurant price ranges and detailed directions have no place in Apple's latest travel guide (after Apple's Europe). Instead, readers get an appealing array of historical trivia and museum mentions relating to American cities. As a former New York Times correspondent (he's now an associate editor), Apple traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada. After "playing Baedeker" for many years, he parlayed his knowledge of America's cities into a series of articles for the Times, which he updates here. Written in a conversational tone with an emphasis more on city character and less on the best shopping districts, this opinionated, nontraditional work is refreshing. Among Apple's revelations: San Francisco is "full of itself"; Tampa is home to the "world's largest collection of paintings and drawings by... Salvador Dal "; and "people would rather die than honk" in Seattle. Apple's hotel and restaurant listings at the end of each city description are geared toward the high-end traveler (the Ritz-Carlton chain gets more than its fair share of mentions), which may limit the book's appeal. Still, Apple's thorough research into each city's economic and social history is impressive, as is his consistent highlighting of art collections and architecture. Maps not seen by PW. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
Apple (associate editor, the New York Times; Apple's America) deftly distills the essence of 40 North American cities through their histories, with special emphasis on the arts and architecture. All the major cities are here-including Boston, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles-but there are some surprises as well. Despite lacking the prominence of larger urban centers, cities like Providence, Buffalo, and Milwaukee are represented, along with Canadian cities such as Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver; outside the continental United States, Honolulu gets a nod. It's these less recognized cities that give Apple's book its value for first-time travelers. Beyond the author's impression of each city, the hotels listed are aimed at the affluent; frequent Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton recommendations give a clue as to the rates one can expect. There's a wider range of recommended dining experiences, with several restaurants qualifying as unpretentious and inexpensive. Not a traditional guidebook-it generally lacks practical information on public transportation, admission fees, street addresses, and telephone numbers-this book is recommended for large travel collections.-Janet Ross, formerly with Sparks Branch Lib., NV Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Read More

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2005 R.W. Apple Jr.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-86547-685-3


This book grew out of a series of monthly articles written for The New York Times, beginning in 1997 and ending in 2000. Like so much of my work, that series grew, in turn, out of a suggestion made by my wife, Betsey. Shortly after the 1996 campaign ended, and with it, or so I believed, my coverage of American politics. I was casting about for a new topic to add to my established repertoire of food, travel, and arts pieces.

The phone rang, and the voice at the other end, that of a semi-forgotten acquaintance, asked a series of questions about Minneapolis (or was it Milwaukee?), in anticipation of a business trip. Is there anything interesting to do there? Any music? Museums? History? Any good restaurants? Hotels? What's the place really like?

People had been coming to me with queries like that for many-years. I suppose because they thought I must have learned something of value in the course of four decades criss-crossing the continent in professional pursuit of politicians and other quarry. I could usually give at least a sketchy answer because all that travel had indeed taught me useful lessons. In the days before cell phones and cable news channels, covering presidential campaigns was a lot like being in the army: brief islands of drama surrounded by seas of ennui. So journalists in search of diversion, supported by expense accounts approved by indulgent editors, found and frequented good restaurants around the country. Never a feckless eater, I enthusiastically played this game from the time of my maiden campaign voyage, following Nelson Rockefeller out to Oregon in 1964, when I first tasted the fabulous Pacific salmon at the Benson on Broad- really didn't. I also indulged my other interests-exploring Chicago's pioneering skyscrapers, taking in a ball game here and there, prowling the corridors of Boston's museums, and spending the odd evening at the opera (for me, the highlight of George McGovern's campaign was Anja Silja, unforgettable as Lulu in San Francisco).

After listening to me playing Baedeker for the umpteenth time, for the man headed for Minneapolis or Milwaukee, Betsey said, "You ought to write all that stuff down." Well-drilled and occasionally well-behaved husband that I am, I did as she said-at modest length at first, beginning with Cleveland, near which I grew up, and at greater length later, finishing with Honolulu, the American fantasy city par excellence.

Before I began, I had been to most cities in America at least once, and to the important ones as many as fifteen or twenty times. Nonetheless, I revisited each of the cities I decided to write about, most of the time with Betsey, who drove dozens of rental cars, shared hundreds of meals, and visited countless historical sites. When people asked her how she spent her time, she took to replying, good-naturedly, "Driving Mr. Daisy."

How did I choose where to go? The twenty biggest cities in the United States, to start with, except for New York, Since the Times is based in New York, it runs articles about the city every day and felt no need of another from me, especially since the conceit of the series was to provide guidance for travelers based mostly in and near New York. I could have written a New York chapter especially for this book, of course, but it took E. B. White an entire volume, however slim, to describe what he called the city's "steady, irresistible charm," and I had no desire to go head-to-head with the master. So with my apologies, dear reader, you will have to read of the metropolis elsewhere.

What you will encounter here, in addition to cities like Miami and Seattle and Houston that you might have expected, are plenty of smaller towns that I have always found interesting because of their historical importance (Charleston, Louisville) or unique culture (New Orleans, Santa Fe). I include Hampton Roads and Tampa Bay, which are bodies of water, obviously, not cities, but which draw the urban areas surrounding them into metropolitan entities that function much like cities. And I include three great Canadian cities because they are close to the United States border and because I have had a love affair with our northern neighbor since taking boyhood fishing trips there.

Had I set out on my travels in a muckraking frame of mind, a rather different kind of book would no doubt have resulted. It might have focused in part on the federal government's dire neglect of American cities, during the Reagan administration in particular, and some of the many consequences thereof. But my intent was different: to celebrate assets that would give pleasure to the traveler, rather than to bemoan liabilities.

If I found plenty of dilapidation and discouragement, I also found things that surprised me and things to admire almost everywhere I went. Buildings by Henry Hobson Richardson, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, remind visitors to Buffalo-who may have thought about the place only when the Bills got to the Super Bowl-that it was once a major economic and political center. Houston has a superlative opera company and one of the nation's finest new museums, the Menil Collection. Vancouver has the best collection of Asian restaurants in North America, in my estimation at least.

Once upon a time, only New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans attracted visitors because of the quality of their restaurants. But now, to the unending delight of a gourmand like myself, a case can be made for an eating trip to Chicago or Seattle or a dozen other cities. Seldom do I have to resort to my hard-to-ruin road meal of the bad old days-shrimp cocktail, strip steak medium rare, baked potato, apple pie. Few are the American cities today where you can't find worthwhile wine lists.

Mostly missing here, you'll see, is any discussion of bars or nightclubs. My daughter, Catherine Collins-my stepdaughter, actually, but we both find that word inappropriately harsh-says I couldn't talk my way past a red rope if my life were at stake. True enough, though I used to wangle my way in to hear Teddy Wilson or Mabel Mercer. To me, moreover, one bar is the same as another. I readily admit that I get jumpy in them after a martini or two-that's an unfashionably traditional gin martini, eight-to-one, if you please, with an olive or a twist, no chocolate and no cranberry juice.

their triumphs and travails in newspapers, in magazines and on the Internet, and then recast the original articles to bring them up to date. Some cities seemed to require more description, some less. I have stayed in nearly all the hotels and eaten in nearly all the restaurants recommended here; I have tried to avoid retailing others' judgments as my own. But restaurants are even more subject to change than most things in life, and a place that served me good meals may serve you bad ones. Some may have closed once press time.

In an era of headlong technological innovation, upheavals in trade and commerce, and changing patterns of migration, American cities have had a tough time of it during the last few decades. Manufacturing jobs have moved south and overseas, leaving parts of Detroit and Philadelphia desolate. Phoenix and San Diego have grown rapidly, thanks to their climates and appeal as leisure centers. Seattle and Boston and, more surprisingly, Pittsburgh have reinvented themselves as high-tech capitals. Without trying very hard, Miami has become a kind of offshore capital of Latin America, attracting migrants and part-time residents from all over that continent. And by trafficking in a kind of sin that most people find more naughty than truly reprehensible, Las Vegas has thrived as a bright, magical-if transparently ersatz-oasis in the desert.

Other cities have developed other strategies for rejuvenation. In some, universities have provided the required energy. In many others, notably Philadelphia, the arts have done so, and museums have taken on functions in civic life they never had before. With new buildings designed by the most celebrated architects of our day, the Andeos and Calatravas, the Gehrys and Hadids, museums have become not only places for the display of fine art but also foci of civic pride, educational centers, settings for gala social events, and, above all, lures for tourists with open wallets.

New museums and performing arts centers have also helped in the inner cities ongoing competition with suburbs, exurbs, and "rim cities," providing experiences at the center that the periphery cannot. New ballparks, football stadia, and arenas built in or near aging downtowns have achieved one of Jane Jacobs's most treasured goals: urban streets thronged with people after business hours. Camden Yards, built in an appealingly nostalgic vernacular, brings thousands into the very heart of Baltimore, and MCI Arena has engendered a pulsating new business, hotel, and restaurant district in Washington.

* * *

I owe thanks to many people for their unstinting help over the long period of this book's gestation, not least to colleagues at the Times. Two executive editors, Joseph Lelyveld and Howell Raines, allowed me the time and money to range across our continent, without which I could not possibly have undertaken such a project. I am grateful to them and to Wendy Selight, who edited the original articles, somehow managing, with nary a grumble, to find adequate space for them even when they grew longer. Susan Chira found a way for me to adapt the articles, whose copyright belongs to the Times.

The research assistance of Catherine Collins would have been invaluable in any event: since she is a much-loved member of the family, it was also immensely gratifying. She unearthed many fascinating nuggets and caught many instances where events had overtaken my original texts. She knows how much I appreciate her hard work, which she undertook although fully occupied with her own television documentary projects. My wife, Betsey, not only suggested the project, helped shape the choice of cities, and traveled with me on most of my reporting trips but also read every word before it first saw print, unfailingly improving my initial drafts. For going on twenty-five years now, she has been my indispensable partner in everything I do, a treasure truly beyond price.

For me, one of the great joys of Apple's America has been the fast friendship I have formed with its editor, the delightful and redoubtable Elisabeth Sifton. Blessed with good humor as well as consistently good judgment, always stocked with tasty morsels of gossip as well as arcane bits of information, she turned hard work into pure pleasure.

Literally hundreds of people helped me get my bearings as I moved from city to city. To list them all here would be tedious, but it would be niggardly not to express my appreciation to

Carter: in Austin, Molly Ivins, James S. Fishkin, Patricia Sharpe, the late George Christian: in Baltimore, Paul S. Sarbanes, Raymond A. Mason, Marty Katz, Tony Foreman; in Boston, David Greenway, Anthony Lewis, Margaret Marshall, Caroline Taylor, Jasper White; in Buffalo, Tim Russert; in Charleston, Joseph P. Riley Jr., Jane Pinckney Hanahan.

In Chicago, William Rice, Newton N. Minow, Barbara Pittman, Jovan Trboyevic, Ward Just, Magda Krance; in Cincinnati, Chuck Martin; in Cleveland, Linda and Fred Griffith, Sidmon J. Kaplan; in Dallas, Paula Lambert, Patricia Perini, Harry McPherson, Dotty Griffith, Robert S. Strauss, Jim Lehrer, Raymond Nasher; in Detroit, Charles Eisendrath, Robert H. Giles, Robert Pisor; in Honolulu, Sam Choy, Jay Fidell, Samuel P. King, Joyce Matsumoto; in Houston, Robert and Mimi Del Grande, Edward P. Djerejian.

In Kansas City, Marc F. Wilson, Calvin Trillin; in Las Vegas, Sig Rogich, Steve Wynn; in Los Angeles, David Shaw, Sean Daniel, Barry Munitz, Tom Warner, Wolfgang Puck, the late Phyllis Jenkins; in Louisville, Henry Bessire, Daniel D. Maye, Susan Riegler; in Miami, Hodding Carter III, Ricardo Suarez, Norman Van Aken, Bonnie Clearwater; in Milwaukee, James Gramentine, Jack L. Goodsitt, Sandy D'Amato, the late Henry S. Reuss; in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Walter F. Mondale, John W. Milton.

In Montreal, Morley Safer, James MacGuire; in Nashville, John Egerton, John Siegenthaler, Karyn Frist, Joe Ledbetter; in New Orleans, Julia Reed, Lolis Eric Elie, Paul C. P. McIlhenny, Paul Fabry, Ella Brennan; in Hampton Roads, Peter Mark, Hunter B. Andrews, Robert C. Wilburn; in Philadelphia, Joseph H. Kluger, Rick Nichols, Arlen Specter, Anne d'Harnon-court, Ruth Hirshey; in Phoenix, John McCain, Barbara Fenzl, Cheryl Alters Jamison; in Pittsburgh, Ted Smyth, Max King, Thomas Sokolowski.

In Portland, Steve McCarthy; in Providence, Frederick Lippitt, the late J. Carter Brown, Nancy Barr, in San Diego, Samuel Popkin, James L. Bowers, Neil Morgan; in San Francisco Bob Long, Roberta Klugman, the late Herb Caen, Alice Waters, Stan Bromley, Willie L. Brown Jr.; in Santa Fe, Tom Margittai, Barbara Buhler Lynes, Elizabeth Martin, Susan Conway and Patrick Oliphant, Joyce Idema; in Savannah, Ashby Angell, Elizabeth Terry; in Seattle, Shelby Scates, Phyllis Hayes, Jon Rowley, Speight Jenkins, Michael Kinsley; in St. Louis, Gerald Boyd, Danny Meyer, Tony Bommarito.

In Tampa Bay, Eugene Patterson, David E. Rosenbaum, Chris Sherman; in Toronto, Alan Sullivan, Alan Gotlieb; in Vancouver, Tom Rowe, Vicky Gabereau, John Nichol, Mike Harcourt, Nathan Fong, Christopher Gaze; in Washington, Roger Kennedy.


Excerpted from APPLE'S AMERICA by R. W. APPLE JR. Copyright © 2005 by R.W. Apple Jr.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More


Meet the Author

R. W. Apple Jr. has been associated with The New York Times since 1963, serving most recently as chief correspondent and now as associate editor. The author of Apple's Europe, he lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Betsey.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >