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In one generation, New York was transformed into one of the great cities of the modern world. The causes and results of this change are emphasized by Edward K. Spann in The New Metropolis. This book is a brilliant evocation of the years when a seaport town was lost and a great metropolis gained. It is the happy story of American ingenuity, achievement, and urban success, but it is also the story of urban wretchedness and failure. Above all, it is the drama of a major city and its confrontation with the problems and opportunities of a modernizing world.
Columbia University Press
An illustrated, beautifully written history of New York's emergence in the middle of the 19th century as a major world metropolis.
Few scholarly historians have attempted to present a thorough account of the evolution of all the diverse forms of life and endeavor in the city during a given period. Few have moved from the preparation of detailed sketches to the creation of a sweeping portrait encompassing all the contrasting colors and tones of a metropolis. In The New Metropolis Edward K. Spann has attempted this challenging task and has produced a rich and rewarding history. Politicians and merchants, rich and poor, do-gooders and thugs, all inhabit the pages of Spann's volume. It is an encyclopedic view, a work ambitious in conception and masterly in presentation.
1. Commercial New York2. Strangers and Citizens3. The Trouble with Government4. Poverty5. A Rich and Growing City6. Manhattan Sruvival Machine7. The Use of Urban Space8. Escape to Suburbia9. Wealth10. Progressive City-Wicked City11. The Age of Gold12. The Trouble with Politics13. Tammany's City14. Tyranny, Tammany, and the State15. Metropolis
Columbia University Press
Posted June 16, 2006
I have spent a great deal of time, over decades, studying the history of my home, New York City. Some of the great works are written by scholars familiar to students of Gotham's history: Wallace, Burroughs, Jackson, Bender, et al., and the list of biographers of New York's most famous and influential citizens would fill pages. But, without fanfare, in the background, Edward K. Spann has written some of the most remarkable and comprehensive histories about New York City. I first read his 'Gotham at War' some years back, and it was a real eye-opener to New York's complicated role during the Civil War. (See my review.) 'The New Metropolis: 1840-1857' is no less a revelation. This era is hardly noted in many studies New York during the Revolution, the Erie Canal's construction, and certainly the Civil War and thereafter, have been fodder for many great historians. But Professor Spann has tackled the two decades (more or less) that really turned New York City from a big city to a metropolis. These pages are populated by the great financiers and great swindlers brilliant civil leaders and corrupt politicians people with the best intentions (who usually never got a chance to complete their dreams) and people with nothing but personal gain in their sights (who usually did fulfill their greedy wishes). The 'characters' of whom I'd always wanted to know more about--like Fernando Wood and Charles Loring Brace--are given the spotlights they have so long deserved. But behind it all is a nameless, faceless character: the furious dynamics of New York City. Professor Spann's conclusion that, in spite of the inept political system, turbulent financial markets, intolerance toward the poor, the Blacks, and the immigrants, and the self-centered hunger of most New Yorkers, somehow, Gotham managed to take care of most of its citizens, and draw tremendous political, economic and cultural resources into its borders. Professor Spann's research is impeccable, and his conclusion hard to debate. This is a dazzling, encyclopedic--but not overwhelming--volume that belongs on the bookshelf of everybody who considers him/herself a student of New York City and America.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.