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AIA Guide to New York City Paperback – June 9, 2010

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AIA Guide to New York City + Blue Guide New York (Fourth Edition)  (Blue Guides) + New York: 15 Walking Tours, An Architectural Guide to the Metropolis
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Editorial Reviews


"Covering each borough almost block by block, building by building, it is an extraordinarily learned, personable exegesis of our metropolis. No other American or, for that matter, world city can boast so definitive a one-volume guide to its built environment....The AIA Guide to New York City sees that what matters about buildings is not solely their window treatment or spandrels, but the life lived in and through them. THe best city architecture is that which makes possible the world of the street." Phillip Lapote, The New York Times

"Blithe in spirit and unerring in vision."
New York Magazine

"An architect's romp through five boroughs."
The Daily Record, New Jersey

"A book for architectural gourmands and gastronomic gourmets."
The Village Voice

"Over its more than four decades of existence, the guide has evolved into a New York institution, as much a city fixture among a certain crowd as Fourth of July fireworks over the East River."--Constance Rosenblum, New York Times

"Reading [the AIA GUDIE] is a joy, and one immediately sees how anyone--the feverish real-estate broker, the stunned tourist, or the pontificating college historian--would love it."--Thessaly La Force,

"Today in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, 20 people aimed cameras at a three-story row house, snapped photos, and cheered. Part of the reason for their excitement may have been that the building was once the home of Jane Jacobs, the writer and activist. More likely, though, is that the picture-taking session marked the official end of the lengthy research phase for the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City, the wryly written block-by-block directory of landmarks that's become an essential reference for architects, planners, and developers, as well as residents."--C.J. Hughes, Architectural Record

"The new guide, readers will be pleased to know, is a vast improvement over its predecessor, beginning with a redesigned retro-'70s cover that replaces the widely loathed faux-metal version of the fourth edition. The new book is also trimmer than its predecessor, though its content is greatly expanded, thanks to a shift to a two-column page layout. A team of writers, led by White and Fran Leadon, has done extraordinary work combing the city, and not just Manhattan, adding entries for new buildings and providing 'necrologies' for the dearly departed."--Architect Magazine

"Indeed, the AIA Guide is perhaps the finest-grained study of New York's built environment that exists, a guide in which no Italianate cornice, no Art Nouveau balustrade, no limestone carving or postmodern tempietto seems to go unremarked."--Wall Street Journal

"While the majority of the book celebrates the good, the AIA Guide is at its most entertaining when applying its witty and pithy critiques to things considered by the authors to be crapitechture."

"The AIA Guide to New York City is an indispensable book that new readers will cherish . . . In fact, it is likely the most comprehensive guide to any city's buildings. The sheer volume of pictures and capsule discussions of building design and histories is one of the great publishing achievements of our time . . . Nobody should leave home for NYC without this book."

"The AIA GUIDE is a 1,055-page love letter to the city. It obsessively details the greatness of well-known neighborhoods, while luring the reader to bucolic corners of Staten Island and the hidden Art Deco grandeur of the Bronx."--Bloomberg News

"A book that belongs in every New Yorker's library."--Dwight Garner, New York Times

About the Author

Norval White is Professor Emeritus, School of Architecture, City College of New York. His architectural designs include the New York City Police Headquarters, among many other buildings. He is the author of The Architecture Book and New York: A Physical History.
Elliot Willensky (d. 1990) was Vice Chairman of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission and the author of When Brooklyn Was the World.
Fran Leadon is a registered architect and teaches at the School of Architecture, City College of New York.

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Product Details

  • Series: Aia Guide to New York City
  • Paperback: 1088 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 5th edition (June 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195383869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195383867
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 1.5 x 4.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Gray on May 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
I had anticipated that this version, with Norval in France, with an interloping 30(?)-something as (new) co-editor, and using student labor, would be thin and watery. Hardly! This version, full of the same level of piquant and candid observation of the Ancient and Honorable first two editions - when the original authors were both driving the bus - but also rich and intricate with observations on the tidal wave of new architecture which has swept over New York in the last decade-plus. And these are not, I feel sure, only the input of estimable but newcomer Fran Leadon, but also Norval White who was intensely interested in what was happening on the New York streets until his last days.

Even back past Lewis Mumford and Montgomery Schuyler, New York has not yet had the equals of Elliot and Norval in writing about New York's buildings - they are on every page.

Christopher Gray

PS The necrology is back!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. Graff on September 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The delicious 3rd Edition had wonderful step by step Walking Tour Guide Maps of selectd areas decribed in the Guide. The highlighted places of interest along the way. This Fifth Edition makes narrative text references to these Walking Tour Guides, specifically naming each Tour,such as West Village "Walking Tour A, B, C, or D" but the actual maps are omitted from the this Edition.

To add insult to injury, the tours are different than the ones in the Third Edition. (I do not have the Fourth, so I do not know what the OUP did there.)

I think that the least that OUP should do would be to send the omitted Walking Tour maps to those that have bought and will be this Fifth Ed.

The problem overall is that notwithstanding the above, this is the only book of its kind and is indispensible to anyone with a serious interst in New York City.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Liz Winters on June 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
What an amazing book!! Of course it is impressive for the sheer breadth of entries--like no other book on my shelf, thumbing through it feels like holding the entire city of New York in my hands. As a long-time resident of the city, as the years pass it becomes easy to overlook the marvels all around. This has been especially true of my current neighborhood, the Upper East Side, or, more specifically, Bed Pan Alley, as the NYT dubbed the far-east sixties for its abundance of medical facilities. Apparently a great place to have a heart attack and not much else. But the fifth edition of the AIA guide gives me a whole new appreciation for the architectural and design gems right outside our door--even including my local pharmacy's sign (no not the Duane Reade), which I've always loved! Great to have its importance verified by such a thoughtful expert as Mr. Leadon-- I happened to catch his interview on the Leonard Lopate show on NPR and was very impressed. I hope he writes a long-form narrative about New York one day, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing throughout and found the entries on my neighborhood to be right on the money. Highly recommended for locals and visitors alike.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One Customer Review says, "The latest edition, even in paperback, is so expanded and comprehensive that carrying it on a walking tour is unthinkable." Not true. I have toured New York four days during the past month since buying the book. Each day was twelve hours or more of walking with book in hand, constantly flipping from map to text-entry and back. Its tall narrow shape makes it handle like a small book. Both hands can support the spine while one thumb flips pages forward and the other back. Mine still looks new after 50 hours of this.

The paperback edition's covers, and the pages, seem able to withstand outdoor use. Last Friday afternoon while I was taking a break in Madison Square a pigeon dropping splatted all over the back cover of my book. It was a minute at least before I could acquire some napkins, but when I did it wiped off cleanly. The mess did not even begin soaking through and there is no warping of the cover or discoloration. It didn't even smell.

That same day I happened to cross paths with a New Yorker (I'm a tourist) who came up and spoke to me while I was standing, book in hand, looking up at 36 Gramercy Park East in the "Union Square to Grammercy Park" walking tour. He was carrying the very same book. He said he uses it regularly. I'm just saying, carrying this book is not "unthinkable."

The walking tours are efficiently laid out. Sticking to them, I have found, saves steps. It's not easy for me to travel to New York so the days I can get there I start walking early, stay late, and try to cover as much ground as possible. Last Friday (Sept 16 2011) for example, I began the 71-site "Ladies Mile" walking tour at 7 am and finished at 2:30 in the afternoon, a rate of 10 sites per hour including a half-hour lunch.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pteridophytalist on June 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a NYC resident of more than 25 years who has broken the spines of both the third and fourth editions of the AIA Guide to New York City, I think the latest edition is a must-have item for any New Yorker with an ounce of curiosity about the buildings and history of the five boroughs. During the decade since the last edition, the cityscape of NYC has been changing at a frenzied pace--at least until the housing bubble popped and the luxury condo boom crashed. This new edition revisits the old, updates the transformed, and point out the new in concise paragraphs of historical fact and pithy architectural criticism. I may not always agree with the authors' opinions but I do appreciate their dry, witty style. The fifth edition has also improved the quality of the maps and the photographs enormously, and I really enjoy the addition of the "necrology" sections--paeans to buildings that are no longer there.

New Yorkers--buy this book and look up! You'll never look at your city the same way.
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