Empire City: New York Through the Centuries

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As perhaps never before in its extraordinary history, New York has captured the American imagination. This major anthology brings together not only the best literary writing about New York--from O. Henry, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Paul Auster, and James Baldwin, among many others--but also the most revealing essays by politicians, philosophers, city planners, social critics, visitors, immigrants, journalists, and historians.

The anthology begins with an account of Henry Hudson's voyage in 1609 and ends with an essay written especially for this book by John P. Avlon, former Mayor Rudolph Guiliani's speechwriter, called "The Resilient City," on the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center as observed from City Hall. The editors have chosen some familiar favorites, such as Washington Irving's A History of New York and Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," as well as lesser-known literary and historical gems, such as Frederick Law Olmsted's plan for Central Park and Cynthia Ozick's "The Synthetic Sublime"--an updated answer to E. B. White's classic essay Here Is New York, which is also included. The variety and originality of the selections in Empire City offer a captivating account of New York's growth, and reveal often forgotten aspects of its political, literary, and social history.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

New York Sun - Fred Siegel

Fine... a well-wrought anthology.

The Historian - Barbara Blumberg

This volume is an anthology to be savored...Empire City is a treat for anyone who is interested in New York.

New York History - John A. Grigg

A monumental documentary history of New York City... These documents illustrate much of the American experience beyond the five boroughs. This collection is of value to anyone who seeks to add eyewitness understanding to his or her perception of the development and growth of the United States.

New York Times Magazine - Russell Shorto

[Kenneth Jackson and David Dunbar's] excellent anthology of New York writings.

New Yorker

The city, in all its confounding glory, is the subject of Kenneth T. Jackson and David S. Dunbar's anthology, Empire City.

New York Magazine

A huge--but readable--collection of nearly 400 years of writing about New York.

New York Sun
Fine... a well-wrought anthology.

— Fred Siegel

The Historian
This volume is an anthology to be savored...Empire City is a treat for anyone who is interested in New York.

— Barbara Blumberg

New York History
A monumental documentary history of New York City... These documents illustrate much of the American experience beyond the five boroughs. This collection is of value to anyone who seeks to add eyewitness understanding to his or her perception of the development and growth of the United States.

— John A. Grigg

New York Times Magazine
[Kenneth Jackson and David Dunbar's] excellent anthology of New York writings.

— Russell Shorto

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231109093
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/8/2005
  • Pages: 1008
  • Sales rank: 225,432
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth T. Jackson is Jacques Barzun Professor of History and the Social Sciences at Columbia University, and president of the New-York Historical Society. He edited the monumental Encyclopedia of New York City and was a prominent contributor to the PBS documentary New York and its companion volume.

David S. Dunbar is co-founder and academic dean of CITYterm at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York, an interdisciplinary, experience-based semester program that immerses high school students from around the country in the history, literature, and culture of New York City. He lives in New York City.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments IntroductionPart 1. Colonial Period (1624-1783) Account of Henry Hudson's Voyage in 1609, Emanuel Van Meteren, (1611)New Amsterdam, Frontier Trading Post, from Historisch Verhael, Nicolaes van Wassenaer, (1626)Letter of the Eight Men to the States-General of the United Netherlands Provinces Regarding the Fear in New Amsterdam of the Indians during the Wars of 1643-45 (1643 )The Representation of New Netherland, 1650, from Collections of the New-York Historical Society, Adriaen Van Der Donck, (1849)Exclusion of Jews from Military Service in New Amsterdam, the Burgher Council, (1655)Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of the Town of Flushing (1657 )Description of the Towne of Mannadens, Anonymous, (1661)Mercantilist Ideas, from England's Treasure by Forraign Trade, Thomas Mun (1664)Prosperity in New York, from A Brief Description of New York, Daniel Denton (1670)True Copy of Articles Whereupon... the New Netherlands Were Surrendered (January, 1674)The Demand for English Liberties in New York: The Charter of Liberties and Privileges (October 30, 1683)Leisler's Rebellion: Benjamin Blagge's Memorial from The Documentary History of the State of New-York, Benjamin Blagge (1689)Contract of an Indentured Apprentice (October 2, 1718)From the New York Weekly Journal (March 11, 1733)From A Brief Narrative of Case and Trial of John Peter Zenger, Andrew Hamilton's Defense(1736)The Great Negro Plot of 1741, from The New York Conspiracy, Daniel Horsmanden (1741)The Trial of John Ury, from The New York Conspiracy, Daniel Horsmanden (1741)Description of New York City in 1748, from Travels into America, Peter Kalm (1748)Opposition to a Sectarian College, from The Independent Reflector,William Livingston (1753 )State of the Province of New York, from New York Historical Society Collections, Cadwallander Colden (1765)From A Tour Through Part of the North Provinces of America, Patrick M'Robert (1774)From Diary of Pastor Schaukirk, Ewald G. Schaukirk (1775)From Journal of Lieutenant Isaac Bangs, Issac Bangs (1776)Hessian Views of New York City, Anonymous (1777, 1780)The Forgotten Saga of the Prison Ships, Kenneth T. Jackson (1990)Part 2. Rise to National Dominance (1783-1860) An Excursion to the United States of North America in the Summer of 1794, Henry Wansey (1794)From Travels, Duke of La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt (1799)Travels Through Canada, and the United States of North America, in the Years 1806, 1807, 1808, John LambertRemarks of the Commissioners for Laying Out Streets and Roads in the City of New York" (1811)Free Schools, DeWitt Clinton (1809)Accounts and Recollections of the War of 1812 from the Popular Press (1814, 1846)From A History of New York, Washington Irving (Diedrich Knickerbocker) (1819)From Travels Through North America, Karl Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1825)Notions of the Americans, James Fennimore Cooper (1828)From Travels in North America in the Years 1827 and 1828, Basil Hall (1827, 1828 )From America and the Americans, James Boardman (1833 )From The Domestic Manners of the American, Frances Trollope (1832)Letter, March 1, 1833, John PintardWorkies, from Men and Manners in America, Thomas Hamilton (1833)Diary: 1835, 1847, 1849, Philip HoneFrom Cinco meses en los Estados-Unidos de la America del Norte desde el 20 de abril al 23 de setiembre de 1835 (Five Months in the United States of North America from April 20 to September 23, 1835), Ramon de la SagraThe Dans Kamer: A Revery in the Highlands, Andrew Jackson Downing (1835)From Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville (1835)Letters from New York, Lydia Maria Child (September 23, 1841; October 21, 1841; May 1, 1843)From American Notes for General Circulation, Charles Dickens (1842)Two Worlds, from Journal, Richard Henry Dana (1843)Doings in Gotham, Letters III and V, Edgar Allen Poe (1844)Murray Hill Reservoir, November 25, Walt Whitman (1849)From Travels in the United States... during 1849 and 1850, Lady Emmelin Stuart-WortleyThe Points at Midnight, George G. Foster (1850)Moby Dick, Chapter 1: Loomings, Herman Melville (1851)From Things as They Are in America, William Chambers (1853)From A Few Months in America: Containing Remarks on Some of Its Industrial and Commercial Interests, James Robertson (1854)From The Englishwoman in America, Isabella Bird (1854)George Templeton Strong, "New York Riot," July 5 and 7, 1857; "Central Park," June 11, 1859; "Draft Riots," July 19, 1863; "Women in Law School," October 9, 1869From Land und Leute in Amerika: Skizzen aus dem Amerikanischen Leben (Land and People in America: Sketches of American Life), Karl Theodor Griesinger (1857)From Life and Liberty in America, Charles Mackay (1857)Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (1856); Mannahatta (1860); Walt WhitmanPart 3. Industrial Metropolis (1860-1898) Selected Writings of African Americans in Brooklyn, (1849-1928 )The Republic of New-York, from Debow's Review, George Fitzhugh (1861)Up Broadway to Madison Square, from Ragged Dick Horatio Alger (1868)Selected Writings on Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted (1858, 1870)The Life of the Street Rats, from The Dangerous Classes of New York and Twenty Years Among Them, Charles Loring Brace (1872)From The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton (1920)Sandhog, from My Life and Loves, Frank Harris (1922)From Progress and Poverty, Henry George (1833, 1879)Vice-Buster, from Frauds Exposed, Anthony Comstock (1880)The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus (1883)Bathing at Coney Island, from Coney Island Frolics, Richard K. Fox (1883)The Workingman's View of His Situation, Testimony of Thomas B. McGuire (1883)Experience of a Chinese Journalist, from Puck, Wong Chin FooThe Two Revelations, from Evolution and Religion, Henry Ward Beecher (1885)From How the Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis (1890)A Glimpse of High Society, from Society as I Have Found It, Ward McAllister (1890)From New York History 1860-1890, Theodore Roosevelt (1891)From Darkness and Daylight, Helen Campbell (1892)Minetta Lane, Stephen Crane (1896)Selections from George Waring's Writing, George Waring (1897, 1899)Part 4. World City (1898-1948) Brooklyn Could Have Been a Contender, from the New York Times (1997 )The Tenement-House Exhibition of 1899, Lawrence Veiller (1900-1901)The Padrone System, Reports of the Industrial Commission on Immigration and Education (1901)The Plan of a City, Jean Schopfer (1902)Immigrant Attitudes, a Humorous View, from Observations by Mr. Dooley, Finley Peter Dunne (1902)New York: Good Government in Danger, from McClures, Lincoln Steffens (1903)The Gospel of Wealth, Andrew Carnegie (1903)No Constantine in Sight, from The Education of Henry Adams, Henry Adams (1904)Built Like a Bonfire: The General Slocum Disaster, June 15, 1904, Edward T. O'Donnell (2001)The Desirability of Comprehensive Municipal Planning in Advance of Development, Calvin Tomkins (1905)The Day's Work of a "New Law" Tenement Inspector, from Charities and the Commons 17, Lewis E. Palmer (1906-1907)Selections from The American Scene, Henry James (1907)Selections from Plunkitt of Tammany Hall by William Riordon (1905)Selected Writings of O. Henry, O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) (1862-1910) The Spirit of the Girl Strikers, from The Outlook, Miriam Finn Scott (1910)Scenes at the Morgue, from the New York Times, March 26, 1911Opening Statement: Abram I. Elkus, Counsel to the Commission, from New York State Factory Investigating Commission (October, 10, 1911)Selection from The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, James Weldon Johnson (1912)Judges in the Gate, from They Who Knock At Our Gates in American Magazine, Mary Antin (1914)A Meditation in Broadway, from What I Saw in America, G. K. Chesterton (1921 )Compact Between the States of New York and New Jersey, The Port Authority (1921)Selections from The Color of a Great City, Theodore Dreiser (1923)Selection from Manhattan Transfer, John dos Passos (1925)Arrangement in Black and White, Dorothy Parker (1927)An American Catholic Answers Back, from the Atlantic Monthly, Alfred E. Smith (1927)The Graphic Regional Plan of 1929: General Retrospect and SummaryEnchanted City, from The Web and the Rock, Thomas Wolfe (1925-1935 )Harlem Runs Wild, Claude McKay (1935)New York, Marianne Moore (1935)The Man-Moth, Elizabeth Bishop (1935)Selection from Going to the Territory, Ralph Ellison (1986)The Fourteenth Ward, from Black Spring, Henry Miller (1936)My Lost City, from The Crack-Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1936)The Fairy Catastrophe, from When the Cathedrals Were White, Le Corbusier (1936)Apology for Breathing, from Back Where I Came From, A. J. Liebling (1938)Excerpt from The Mohawks in High Steel, from Up in the Old Hotel, Joseph Mitchell (1938)The Mayor Challenges--"Ten Misconceptions of New York" (1939)In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, Delmore Schwartz (1938)The Eighty Yard Run, Irwin Shaw (1942)The Making of a New Yorker, John Steinbeck (1943)Voice, Woody Guthrie (1945)Beyond, from A Walker in the City, Alfred Kazin (1946)Part 5. World Capital (1948-2000) A Place (Any Place) to Transcend All Places, William Carlos Williams (1948)Here Is New York, E. B. White (1949)Selected Writings, Langston Hughes (1940, 1951)The King of Harlem, Federico Garcia Lorca (1955)Angel Levine, Bernard Malamud (1955)Remarks on the Groundbreaking at Lincoln Square, Robert Moses (1959)The Day Lady Died, Frank O'Hara (1959)Fifth Avenue, Uptown, James Baldwin (1960)New York Scenes, from Lonesome Traveler, Jack Kerouac (1960)The Blackout, November 9, 1965, from POPism: The Warhol '60s, Andy Warhol (1980)The Balloon, Donald Barthelme (1968)The Second Regional Plan: Introduction and Summary (1968)Goodbye to All That, from Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion (1968)The Yankees, Bruce CattonBedford-Stuyvesant: Giving a Damn About Hell, from Robert Kennedy: A Memoir, Jack Newfield (1969)Young Lords Party:13-Point Program and Platform (1969)Get the Mafia and the Cops out of Gay Bars, Anonymous (1969)Radical Chic from Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, Tom Wolfe (1970)The Fallen Idol: The Harlem Tragedy of Earl Manigault, from The City Game, Pete Axthelm (1970)Ode to New York, Reed Whittemore (1974)New York, Edward Field (1977)The Brooklyn Bridge, from Sketches from Life, Lewis Mumford (1981)It's Six a.m. Do You Know Where You Are?, Jay McInerney (1982)Boodling, Bigotry, and Cosmopolitanism: The Transformation of a Civic Culture, from Dissent, Jim Sleeper (Fall 1987)Auggie Wren's Christmas Story, Paul Auster (1990)Autumn in New York, Murray Kempton (1990)Replacing Memory, Barry Lopez (1993)Shot: A New York Story, Elizabeth Hardwick (1993)Talk That Talk, from In the Place to Be, Guy Trebay (1994)A Region at Risk from The Third Regional Plan (1996)One Large Garlic and Anchovy: The Search for the Perfect Slice, Michael Nadler (1997)The Second Inaugural Address: The Agenda for Permanent Change Rudolph Giuliani (1998)Someplace in Queens, Ian Frazier (1998)The Midnight Tour: Working the Edgar Allen Poe Beat in the Bronx, from the New Yorker, Marcus Laffey (May 15, 2000)Down and Out and Up Again: Walking Freestyle through the Upper East Side and Sleeping Rough in Central Park, from Time Out Book of New York Walks, Lee Stringer (2000)The Synthetic Sublime, from Quarrel and Quandary, Cynthia Ozick (2000)New York: Science Fiction, Junot Diaz (2000)The Resilient City, John P. Avlon (2001)Index

Columbia University Press

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2008

    A reviewer

    this is a must read for new yorkers or history buffs in general. filled with essays from some of the most important figures in new york history. a wonderful compilation fitted for the reader interested in new york history. a must have, trust me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2005

    A great look at great looks of New York

    Editors Kenneth Jackson and David Dunbar have amassed an enormous collection of essays, letters, diary entries, and poems about New York written by New Yorkers and visitors to the city from the dawn of the modern age (ca. 1600) to just after the ravages of 9/11. While an overwhelming majority of the pieces are pro-Gotham, I was glad that Messrs. Jackson and Dunbar had the wisdom and integrity to present some works that express anxiety and doubt about New York's status. The result is an extensive, celebratory, sometimes warts-and-all biography of the world's greatest city. As Mr. Jackson remarked in the 1999 Ric Burns New York Documentary, New York is not a stagnant, static thing: 'New York is always becoming'. He and Mr. Dunbar are to be congratulated for reminding us that New York's biography is long, and with a lot more greatness to come.

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