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It Happened in Manhattan: An Oral History of Life in the City during the Mid-Twentieth Century

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Overview

It's just a narrow island, only twenty-two square miles. But it's so much bigger than that. Now, in this album of period photos and first-person reminiscences, you can experience the mosaic of midcentury Manhattan from Altman's to Zabar's -- East Side, West Side, and all around the town.

Ranging from the early post-World War II years when the city came into its own to the mid-1970s when the city nearly went bust -- and featuring interviews with such New York luminaries as Jimmy...

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Overview

It's just a narrow island, only twenty-two square miles. But it's so much bigger than that. Now, in this album of period photos and first-person reminiscences, you can experience the mosaic of midcentury Manhattan from Altman's to Zabar's -- East Side, West Side, and all around the town.

Ranging from the early post-World War II years when the city came into its own to the mid-1970s when the city nearly went bust -- and featuring interviews with such New York luminaries as Jimmy Breslin, Bill Gallo, Monte Irvin, Robert Merrill, Herman Badillo, Elaine Kaufman, Jerry Della Femina, and Pauline Trigere, plus the everyday people who form the hustle and bustle of the city's daily life -- this book will bring you back to a glorious era when the great ocean liners still docked in the Hudson River ports; when Checker cabs hurtled across a two-way Fifth Avenue; when eleven daily newspapers covered the city beat; when young women hurried to their Katharine Gibbs classes in hats and white gloves; when the Third Avenue el cast long shadows on the street. It will take you to SoHo before it had a name, and the Brill Building when it was home to Tin Pan Alley songwriters. It will re-create the experience of childhood in Harlem and the Lower East Side, visit the Garden, the Garment District, and Greenwich Village, and bring to mind the throbbing music of 52nd Street jazz joints and the Fillmore East, the taste of a Ratner's onion roll and a chocolate egg cream, the aroma wafting from Little Italy's trattorias, and the rumble of the subway from beneath the sidewalk grates. For anyone who grew up in or near "The City" -- or fell in love with New York as an adult -- this unique history, filled with vintage photos, is a compelling read...and a powerful testament to the indescribable mystique of magical, memorable Manhattan.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762870851
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Cast of Characters xv
Prologue xix
Part 1
Chapter 1 On the Sidewalks of New York 3
Childhood reminiscences from the Upper West Side
Harlem
Yorkville
Times Square
The Lower East Side
Chapter 2 I Want to Be a Part of It 33
Winning auditions for the Philharmonic and the Met
Landing a job at the New York Times
Coming to MoMA from Portland, Oregon, and to Barnard from Brooklyn
Running the streets for the Mercury Messenger Service
Wearing "the uniform" at Katie Gibbs
Chapter 3 If I Can Make It Here ... 55
Reaching for the stars: Stories of Zabar's, Russ and Daughters, and Balducci's
Making a name on Madison Avenue
Bringing the Beatles to Carnegie Hall
Discovering a calling in SoHo
Part 2
Chapter 4 Puttin' on the Ritz 83
Food: Le Pavillon launches a gastronomic revolution
From the Colony to Le Cirque
Fashion: Inside Harper's Bazaar
New York steals the crown from Paris
From Sophie's Salon at Saks Fifth Avenue to sewing skins in the fur district
Chapter 5 Sanctuaries in the City 117
The glorious choirs of Harlem churches
Getting the call to the priesthood
The Brotherhood Synagogue and the Jewish motor of New York
Chapter 6 High Culture or "Who the Hell Is de Kooning?" 129
The art and music scene in the postwar years: from the abstract expressionists to Andy Warhol and pop art
Memories of the great conductors
Summer serenades at Lewisohn Stadium
The move from Carnegie Hall and the Met to Lincoln Center
Chapter 7 Making Music 153
Memories of Tin Pan Alley
Atlantic Records and the record industry
Working as an usher at the Fillmore East
Chapter 8 East Side, West Side 175
Stories from the neighborhoods
The Upper West Side
Chelsea
Greenwich Village
Harlem
Chapter 9 All Around the Town 213
When New York had eleven-plus dailies
The life of a reporter
Walter Winchell and Ed Sullivan
Gangsters and the sporting life at the old Madison Square Garden
Nightlife from Toots Shor's to Elaine's to Irish pubs to nightclubs to theater
Part 3
Chapter 10 Politics As Usual 247
New York mayors from Wagner to Beame
Changing demographics
The financial crisis of '75
Urban renewal
Roosevelt Island
Chapter 11 Looking at New York Through Its Buildings 267
The changing look of New York
The Third Avenue el comes down, the white apartment houses go up
Preservation movements: the saving of the Jefferson Market Courthouse in Greenwich Village
The creation of SoHo
Reprise: If You Live Long Enough ... 289
P.S. 303
Photo Credits 304
Index 306
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2001

    A JOB WELL DONE!!

    Certainly is a handsome volume--good cover and production values.And it captures Manhattan in a way that puts that borough in sharp contrast to Brooklyn. Those giving testimony in the Brooklyn book were steeped in the lore of their neighborhoods, knew their streets and schools, and rooted for their beloved bums. A job well done--but, when can we expect 'It Happened in Staten Island'?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2001

    It Happened in Manhattan: An Oral History of Life in the City During the Mid-Twentieth Century

    Contrary to the popular notion, nostalgia is pretty much what it's always been, judging by the latest offering from the Frommers ('It Happened on Broadway' 1998, etc.). The professors Frommer (Liberal Arts/Dartmouth) have gathered interviews with iconoclastic New Yorkers Jerry Della Femina, Robert Merrill, Jimmy Breslin, Monte Irvin, Elaine Kaufman, Saul Zabar, and 57 others. They recall life in Manhattan from the end of World War II to the mid seventies. The New York of wonder is evoked once more with as in Proust, the reference to indigenous food (e.g., entrees at Le Pavilion or classic egg creams). And from Harlem to Wall Street, Washington Heights to Greenwich Village, there are old churches and delis gone by, the surviving Guggenheim and the lost Automats, Lincoln Center newly built and Lewisohn Stadium since gone. There are shopkeepers with pencil stubs behind their ears and practitioners of the rag trades, artists, sportswriters, and gossip columnists. The memorists speak with the distinct flavor of Yiddish or of Italian. And there's a Hispanic rhythm and that of Lenox Avenue too. Study the ladies in gloves, the gents in fedoras, the haberdashers' billboards, the movie marquees, the street furniture. Self-congratulatory oral history, garrulous nostalgia, and great fun for those who recall the days of Tin Pan Alley and three baseball teams in one small, favored place

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2001

    It Happened in Manhattan: An Oral History of Life in the City During the Mid-Twentieth Century

    THANKS FOR MANHATTAN. I LOVE IT. I READ A LITTLE BIT EACH NIGHT AND ENJOY IT. MANY FOND MEMORIES.

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