New York Streetscapes: Tales of Manhattan's Significant Buildings and Landmarks

Overview

Christopher Gray's engaging tales of historic Gotham locales transport readers back in time for a stroll through the streets of old New York. The noted architectural historian, who writes the popular "Streetscapes" column in The New York Times, here gathers 190 of the best-loved of those columns to captivate readers with his wealth of information about sites and buildings and the intriguing lives of the people connected to them.

From the Bridge Cafe (New York's oldest surviving ...

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Overview

Christopher Gray's engaging tales of historic Gotham locales transport readers back in time for a stroll through the streets of old New York. The noted architectural historian, who writes the popular "Streetscapes" column in The New York Times, here gathers 190 of the best-loved of those columns to captivate readers with his wealth of information about sites and buildings and the intriguing lives of the people connected to them.

From the Bridge Cafe (New York's oldest surviving bar) on Water Street to the Revolutionary War-era Morris-Jumel Mansion in upper Manhattan, Gray turns the spotlight on both obscure and familiar landmarks, and each of his witty, urbane essays is illustrated with at least one period photograph. Gray's vast enthusiasm and love for New York's architecture is evident in all that he writes, as is his concern for the preservation of the city's architectural treasures.


About the Author:
Christopher Gray has been writing his "Streetscapes" column for The New York Times for the past 15 years. A noted architectural historian, Gray has also written columns for Avenue and House & Garden magazines and has authored four books on New York City's architecture. Suzanne Braley studied urban planning and business at the University of Michigan, and historic preservation at Columbia University, New York.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Having once been called a "building genealogist" by a stranger, Gray is definitely something more than an architectural historian. His "Streetscapes" column for the New York Times has taken readers through the architectural history of Gotham for 15 years, and now his book will make that journey comprehensive and just as immediate. Winding from lower Manhattan to uptown, the vignettes present an image of a structure-sometimes a garden or viaduct or something besides a building-with a revealing short text. More than 300 black-and-white (often period) photographs depict the lavish and strange interiors and exteriors of the structures. The combination of Gray's elegant architectural writing (on MoMA's facade: "After that the curved canopy was replaced and the panels were either all replaced or altered to eliminate their variegated, milky quality") with his gossipy and historical anecdotes ("In 1893 Delmonico's was found guilty of serving woodcock out of season") makes this an indispensable book for New York and architecture enthusiasts. Gray does a service for a place where, as he writes, "information is lost to local memory far sooner than in a suburban or rural environment." New York becomes a four-dimensional object with his revelations, a layered thing that can be peeled and examined in time and space. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Since 1987, the real estate section of the New York Times's Sunday edition has carried Gray's "Streetscapes" column. This volume includes roughly 200 of these columns, in shortened form and chosen with a concern for the story-both human and architectural. Gray writes with the loving eye of the city dweller and the profound curiosity of the newly arrived settler, which indeed he was, at age nine. The details include architectural carvings and interior decoration, worn marble steps at a courthouse, and subway handrails polished by decades of use. He tells the stories behind landmarks from Lower to Upper Manhattan, divided into six major sections. Sadly, many of the buildings no longer exist, but the efforts of "building genealogists" help keep alive the image of those who created and peopled them. New York City has an aura of constant change, and yet, as Gray reveals, its wonder and richness lie in its continuing connection to the past. Recommended for all New York City collections, as well as those dealing with architectural and social history.-Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810944411
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.87 (w) x 9.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2005

    Portrait of a city

    Some books on the older buildings of New York City will give you the nuts and bolts about the structures: who designed it, who constructed it, when it was built, etc. And some photo books of old New York don't tell you anything at all. New York Times writer, Christopher Gray, with the assistance of the untiring researcher, Suzanne Braley, actually breathe life into these buildings. Not only do we learn the who and the when of a building's birth, but also the why and the how. Why were white brick apartment buildings so prominent at one time? How did the Winter Garden evolve from a huge stable? It's the little and, sometimes, epic anecdotes surrounding the buildings that fascinate Mr. Gray which, in turn, fascinate us. This is an indispensible book for anyone who loves the city, and who has ever stopped in front of a building and asked, 'How did that ever get there?'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2003

    Simply outstanding.

    I love this book so much, I bought several for my friends that are die-hard lovers of New York. If you read Christopher Gray's column that appears weekly in the New York Times, as I do, you will appreciate this treasure of information written with such expertise. Mr.Gray is truly a New York wizard!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2003

    Take your pick: 'Live forever' or 'Good grief!'

    Here are three of my favorite quotes: 'This book will live forever.' -- Jimmy Breslin, New York //// 'The Streetscapes story on the Miller Highway moved me, another example of Mr. Gray's ability to find poetry in the mundane.' ---Peter Burwasser, Philadelphia //// 'Your column on the Miller Highway is nothing short of absurd. To romanticize this curved and unsafe bottleneck is almost unimaginable. Good grief, you are living in a fantasy land.' ---Bernard Rifkin, The Bronx ////

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2009

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