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The book profiles workers from a wide variety of social and ethnic backgrounds, men and women who are eloquent in recounting their own stories, knowledgeable in relating the history of their beloved city, and avid about explaining the skills and challenges involved in practicing their chosen occupations. Their wisdom, humor, and humanity reflect the best of New York.
Profiling those who craft the artistry of Broadway, pilot NYC subway trains, construct the city's ubiquitous water towers, plaster Manhattan walls with graffiti, and more, this compendium of big city trade from Library of Congress "folklike specialist" Groce is packed with the fascinating testimony of cityfolk who honestly love what they do. The process of making a wig for a Broadway show, detailed by designer Linda Rice, involves thousands of individual hairs hand-tied to mesh, taking some 15 hours to complete and a minimum of $1,200. The graffiti industry is well-considered some three decades after it emerged as a cultural force, and the everyday frustrations of riding the MTA's subway system are put into startling perspective: "Approximately 70 percent of Americans who ride mass transit each day do so in New York City." Groce also demystifies Wall Street with the help of traders and others, and serves up everything there is to know about Bagels and Bialys on Coney Island: the third-generation owner of Russ and Daughters says that the present-day variety of shmears (like tofu cream cheese) and fish ("I have ten different kinds of smoked salmon") would make grandfather roll over in his grave. A grand undertaking, Groce's volume makes an absorbing document of "local culture in the global city."
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Posted April 7, 2010
I really enjoyed reading Nancy Groce's book on the trades of NY and found the photos and fist hand accounts entertaining and very enjoyable. Even if you don't know much about NY city or it's history, you will find the stories and content of this good fun! If you're looking for a great non-fiction read, look no further!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.