New York: City of Islands

Overview

The islands that form New York City are far more subtle and varied than the five that can be seen from the air. In this spectacular portrait of the great metropolis, renowned photographer Jake Rajs juxtaposes iconic views—the Empire State Building, the Hudson River skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge—with unheralded neighborhoods and hidden places throughout the five boroughs.

Pete Hamill's literary portrait perfectly complements Rajs's visual presentation. This lively and compelling ...

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Overview

The islands that form New York City are far more subtle and varied than the five that can be seen from the air. In this spectacular portrait of the great metropolis, renowned photographer Jake Rajs juxtaposes iconic views—the Empire State Building, the Hudson River skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge—with unheralded neighborhoods and hidden places throughout the five boroughs.

Pete Hamill's literary portrait perfectly complements Rajs's visual presentation. This lively and compelling view traces the history of the city from its beginnings as an Indian hunting and fishing ground to the early years of settlement by immigrants from all corners of the world to the numerous and overlapping islands that now make up the city as a whole.

First published in a deluxe edition in 1998, this unique presentation is now available to all who are eager to explore the city that fascinates the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Jake Rajs's affection for New York City is readily apparent on every page of this photographic celebration of the city's diverse glories. His memorable images are so joyous and vibrantly colored as to make even the most jaded New Yorker remember why he or she fell in love with the city in the first place, and Pete Hamill's fond but hard-nosed essay tracing Gotham's triumphs, trials, and tribulations is the perfect companion piece to Rajs's vivid images.
Library Journal
Destined to land close to each other in a library collection, these two books are so different they might be describing two worlds, not one city. Rajs shoots his New York as if he were on an assignment for National Geographic. His city is rich in polychrome power. It is so lovingly composed that to a native New Yorker, it looks like somewhere else. The dazzle that Rajs captures is not in daily routine but in the wonder of photography that builds glory through mastery of the medium by aiming at places, moments, and urban majesty. Hamill provides a fine opening essay that is long on history, careful about nostalgia, and realistic about the ups and downs of New York City. No glistening monument to human industry, Hart Island in New York Harbor has supported a cemetery, a charity hospital for women, an insane asylum, a jail, and now a cemetery again. Artists Hund and Sternfeld show it to be a secret place--a small island full of common graves, long trenches filled with pine boxes of forgotten dead--and in the process throw a meteor at people who think they know New York. Their photographs are generally brown and gray, visions of a lonely place in a lonely winter. The labor pool for the death detail is a cadre of prisoners from the city's jail at Riker's Island. These tough urban men seem softened by their work, by the finalization their digging brings to lives that never really got started. No single part of this book seems masterly--not Hunt's introductory essay, not the straightforward photographs under heavy clouds, not the images of crudely marked coffins large and small. But as a carefully collected volume, it is a moving and memorable portrayal of a secret place crammed with anonymous New Yorkers. Both books are recommended.--David Bryant, New Canaan P.L., CT
Booknews
Photographer Rajs' dramatic compositions of iconic vistas as well as unseen and unheralded images of this great urban setting are complemented by an essay by Pete Hammill on New York's history. The photographs are divided into four sections that show busy urban streets and avenues and activities along them, parks and places of leisure, sculpted steel bridges, skyscrapers of midtown and downtown Manhattan, and the island geography (Staten Island, Coney Island, and Rockaway beach). Contains about 200 color photographs. 8.5x13<"> Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580931830
  • Publisher: The Monacelli Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2007
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 769,566
  • Product dimensions: 9.05 (w) x 7.05 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Jake Rajs has traveled across America and throughout the world, capturing the image and spirit of place. His work is widely published and his books include the highly acclaimed America, The Hudson River, and Between Sea and Sky: Landscapes of Long Island's North Fork.

Pete Hamill is a novelist, journalist, editor, and screenwriter. He has served as editor-in-chief of both the New York Post and the New York Daily News. He has published eight novels, including the best-selling Snow in August, as well as the memoir A Drinking Life.

Biography

Throughout his colorful career as a writer, New York City has been a constant backdrop and inspiration for Pete Hamill -- from his success at several New York newspapers and magazines to his look back at A Drinking Life to his latest sweeping novel about a man gifted with immortality in the city he calls home: Forever.

Born in Brooklyn in 1935 as the first of seven children to Irish immigrant parents, Hamill attended Catholic schools throughout his childhood. More in tune with the city streets than the schoolroom, he dropped out at 16 to labor in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheet metal worker, and from there signed up with the U.S. Navy, where he was able to eventually complete his high school education. The G.I. Bill of Rights helped him gain admission to Mexico City College in 1956-1957, where he was a student of art and design.

While Hamill fell in love with Mexico (and would eventually come to consider it his second home), his interest in design brought him back to New York to study at Pratt Institute. However, in 1960, he made the fateful career move that would change his life: taking a job as a beat reporter for The New York Post. Hamill's pavement-pounding work made him a crafty chronicler of city life -- from the grimy streets of the crime beat to the chaotic uprisings of the 1960s -- and he graduated to columnist. Soon after, he made the slightly scandalous move to the Post's rival paper, The New York Daily News. Perhaps one of Hamill's most intriguing achievements in New York journalism is the fact that he served as editor-in-chief of both papers -- the city's two most notoriously competitive dailies.

Hamill's nonfiction books have resonated with readers craving more than a few column inches. His 1994 memoir, A Drinking Life, was, as Publishers Weekly noted, "not a jeremiad condemning drink... but a thoughtful, funny, street-smart reflection on its consequences." Turning his attention to other lives, Hamill has also written tributes to idols Frank Sinatra (1998's Why Sinatra Matters) and Mexican painter Diego Rivera (1999's Diego Rivera).

Hamill has also enjoyed critical and commercial success as a fiction writer. His 1997 novel, Snow in August, was an instant New York Times bestseller. On the gritty coming-of-age story, the Times observed, "Mr. Hamill has told versions of this story many times, in fiction and journalism. But in his new novel...Mr. Hamill adds magic. Hamill is not a subtle writer, but his gift for sensual description and his tabloid muscularity fit this page turner of a fable."

2002's Forever brings Hamill's street smarts and near-encyclopedic knowledge of New York City together with his gift for spinning a story. Perhaps his most ambitious work yet, the novel traces the history of Manhattan through the eyes of a man who has watched it unfold for the better part of two centuries -- thanks to an otherworldly wish he is granted. It's likely Hamill's secret wish as well.

Good To Know

Since the 1950s, Hamill has had a keen interest in Mexico and considers it his home away from home. As a reporter, he covered the events in Tlatelolco in 1968, the Olympic Games that followed, and a major earthquake in 1985. For six months in 1986, he served as editor of The Mexico City News.

He is married to Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki and has two grown daughters -- one a poet, the other a photographer for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York, and Cuernavaca, Mexico
    1. Date of Birth:
      1935
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      Mexico City College, 1956-1957; Pratt Institute
    2. Website:

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