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The City's End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York's Destruction

Overview

Max Page examines the destruction fantasies created by American writers and imagemakers at various stages of New York's development. Seen in every medium from newspapers and films to novels, paintings, and computer software, such images, though disturbing, have been continuously popular. Page demonstrates with vivid examples and illustrations how each era's destruction genre has reflected the city's economic, political, racial, or physical tensions, and he also shows how the images have become forces in their own...
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Overview

Max Page examines the destruction fantasies created by American writers and imagemakers at various stages of New York's development. Seen in every medium from newspapers and films to novels, paintings, and computer software, such images, though disturbing, have been continuously popular. Page demonstrates with vivid examples and illustrations how each era's destruction genre has reflected the city's economic, political, racial, or physical tensions, and he also shows how the images have become forces in their own right, shaping Americans' perceptions of New York and of cities in general.
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Editorial Reviews

Mike Wallace

"Can this be the end—gasp—of Gotham? For two centuries now, this question has been posed by the innumerable writers, artists, and film makers who have targeted New York for fictional destruction. The city has been bombed, burned, drowned, frozen, invaded by aliens and stomped by monsters—a harrowing and occasionally hilarious record of imagined carnage that Max Page masterfully recounts. Then came 9/11. The City's End, enlightening and entertaining, provides much food for thought."—Mike Wallace, co-author of Gotham

Marshall Berman
The City's End is a great Times Square of a book, an urban spectacle in its own right. Max Page, one of the most creative urbanists writing today, shows how our capacity to imagine New York’s destruction is actually a sign not only of the city’s inner strength, but of our own. Reading The City's End can help us all grow up.”—Marshall Berman, author of All That Is Solid Melts into Air
Alexander Garvin
"Max Page's account of New York's pre- and post-9/11 disaster fears illuminates our deepest subliminal fantasies and provides unexpectedly profound observations about American culture and its love-hate relationship with city life."—Alexander Garvin, author of The American City: What Works, What Doesn't
Clifton Hood
"This is a dazzling book, highly original and with a distinctive voice. It has no competitor."—Clifton Hood, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Jonathan Soffer
“Page provides a unique, well-researched, and insightful analysis of why so many authors, readers, and viewers have loved to destroy New York.”—Jonathan Soffer, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn
Mike Wallace
"Can this be the end—gasp—of Gotham? For two centuries now, this question has been posed by the innumerable writers, artists, and film makers who have targeted New York for fictional destruction. The city has been bombed, burned, drowned, frozen, invaded by aliens and stomped by monsters—a harrowing and occasionally hilarious record of imagined carnage that Max Page masterfully recounts. Then came 9/11. The City's End, enlightening and entertaining, provides much food for thought."—Mike Wallace, co-author of Gotham
Wall Street Journal
An informative and provocative read.(Tama Starr, Wall Street Journal

— Tama Starr)

New York Times
Erudite but lavishly illustrated.(Sam Roberts, New York Times

— Sam Roberts)

Newsday
The City's End explores the imaginative and often profitable ways that filmmakers, writers, and artists have blown up, incinerated, drowned or depopulated New York City. . . . Page thoughtfully analyzes why the city's ruination has been such an enduringly popular theme.(Ann Levin, Newsday

— Ann Levin)

Wall Street Journal - Tama Starr
"An informative and provocative read."—Tama Starr, Wall Street Journal
New York Times - Sam Roberts
"Erudite but lavishly illustrated."—Sam Roberts, New York Times
Newsday - Ann Levin
"The City's End explores the imaginative and often profitable ways that filmmakers, writers, and artists have blown up, incinerated, drowned or depopulated New York City. . . . Page thoughtfully analyzes why the city's ruination has been such an enduringly popular theme."—Ann Levin, Newsday
The Barnes & Noble Review
In the aftermath of 9/11, New York has been treated to periodic threats from a wide assortment of pious lunatics, promising death and destruction to Gotham equal to 100 World Trade Centers. In City's End, Max Page beats them all walking away: chapter after chapter, the reader watches a city reduced to rubble magically regenerate itself with the turning of the page, only to be smashed to pieces again on the next -- though the devastation is usually confined to Manhattan between the Battery and 59th Street, few artists or directors having troubled themselves to imagine the effect of an ultimate ruction in, say, Park Slope, Brooklyn. The book records nearly instance of New York in ruins from film, radio, television, and fiction of the last two centuries. The authors of catastrophe range form Stephen Vincent Benét to Steven Spielberg, and their agents include -- but are not limited to -- fire, water, Germans, something called a wolven, Gene Hackman, and the moon. It's an extraordinary Domesday book of doomsdays, even if there's little methodology to its madness; this is a flat-out catalogue, illustrated throughout with prolapsed Statues of Liberty (seven in all) and ravaged Wall Streets (three), but Page doesn't sort through the wreckage long enough to find much meaning. What he does do, however, is commendable: like I. N. Phelps-Stokes' Iconography of New York in reverse, City's End is the definitive chronicle of New York's unmaking. --Ian Volner
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300110265
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/23/2008
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Max Page is professor of architecture and history, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is a 2003 Guggenheim Fellow and author of The Creative Destruction of Manhattan, which received the 2001 Spiro Kostof Award of the Society of Architectural Historians. He lives in Amherst.

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Table of Contents

1 Beauty and Terror 1

2 "Horrors Were Their Delight": Terrifying and Thrilling Wars at Home and Invasions from Abroad 23

3 Utopian and Dystopian Fantasies of the "Stone Colossus" in the 1920s and 1930s 61

4 "Falls Rome, Falls the World": Atomic Fears of the 1940s and 1950s 101

5 Escape from New York: Fictions of a City's Decline and Rebirth 143

6 The Future of the City's End: New York and Its Fantasies After 9/11 199

Notes 233

Illustration Credits 261

Index 263

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