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American Studies InternationalA fine and fun bebop Baedeker through the Grandest of all Cities, New York, in its 1945 heyday..a valuable and thoroughly enjoyable journey.
— Gregg Ottinger
In 1945, New York City stood at the pinnacle of its cultural and economic power. Never again would the city possess the unique mixture of innocence and sophistication, romance and formality, generosity and confidence which characterized it in this moment of triumph. In Manhattan '45, acclaimed travel writer and historian Jan Morris evokes the city in all its romantic grandeur. From its beguilingly idiosyncratic architectural style to its unmistakable slang, post-War New York springs to life through Morris's brisk, affectionate prose. Morris visits Wall Street, Harlem, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side. She rides the trollies, the El, the Hudson River ferries, and the Twentieth Century Limited. She dines at Schrafft's and Le Pavillon, drinks ale at McSorley's Saloon, sips Manhattans at the Manhattan Club, and spots celebrities at El Morocco. She meets Fiorello La Guardia, Robert Moses, Leo Durocher, I. B. Singer, and Dizzy Gillespie. And she tours the tenements of Hell's Kitchen and the Gashouse district, as well as the Foundling Hospital where the crushing realities of poverty belie the unchallenged exuberance of the age. Taking into account both Social Register and slum, Manhattan '45 celebrates New York's Golden Age as a place where, for one unrepeatable moment in history, anything seemed possible.
Johns Hopkins University Press
— Gregg Ottinger
Morris's rendition of the city's 1945 moods conveys what it felt like to live in New York at that time... A book crammed with details that bring life again to a city that glows in one's memory.
Accomplished with a surprising feeling of immediacy... Morris's unabashedly sentimental journey is narrated in a breezy, sometimes gushing style, yet maintains a high level of accuracy... There are intriguing bits of information and insight that spotlight aspects of the city we may have taken for granted... Manhattan '45... provides some food for thought, some fine writing, but mostly, just fun.
A fine and fun bebop Baedeker through the Grandest of all Cities, New York, in its 1945 heyday..a valuable and thoroughly enjoyable journey.