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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamill's Narrative Vibrates With Life - A Pean To NYC!!
I'm a Manhattanite and can't think of another city where I'd rather live than this melting pot mix of a metropolis. To my mind, Pete Hamill is the quintessential New Yorker. A lifelong resident, former editor-in-chief of both the New York Post and New York Daily News, author of eight books, among them the best selling memoir, "A Drinking Life," and "The Subway Series...
Published on December 25, 2004 by Jana L. Perskie

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A history lesson and memoir that don't quite mesh.
Hamill's love for Downtown Manhattan is obvious. He speaks lovingly of "a city of daily irritations, occasional horrors, hourly tests of will and even courage, and huge dollops of pure beauty. He fills the book with tales of Peter Stuyvesant and John Jacob Astor, CBGB's and Delmonico's, but in the midst of this history, personal reminiscences are tossed in carelessly and...
Published on March 7, 2008 by J. Carroll


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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamill's Narrative Vibrates With Life - A Pean To NYC!!, December 25, 2004
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Hardcover)
I'm a Manhattanite and can't think of another city where I'd rather live than this melting pot mix of a metropolis. To my mind, Pete Hamill is the quintessential New Yorker. A lifelong resident, former editor-in-chief of both the New York Post and New York Daily News, author of eight books, among them the best selling memoir, "A Drinking Life," and "The Subway Series Reader," Hamill knows more than most about the five boroughs, especially downtown Manhattan. He has certainly paid his dues, or rent, with 14 different residences during his lifetime. (unusual, as New Yorkers usually hold on to their apartments, forever). A cynical newspaperman, from the old school more than the new, Hamill was born in Brooklyn, the son of Irish immigrants. He is struck by those who, like his parents, fought for a brighter future while remembering what they left behind. "That rupture with the immediate past would mark all of them and did not go away as the young immigrants grew old. If anything, the nostalgias were often heightened by the coming of age. Some would wake up in the hot summer nights of New York and for a few moments think they were in Sicily or Mayo or Minsk. Some would think their mothers were at the fireplace in the next room, preparing food. The old food. The food of the Old Country." As a child, looking with wonder for the first time at the gilded spires of Manhattan, from the pedestrian ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge, Hammil asked his mother in an awed voice, "What is it?" "Sure, you remember, Peter," she said. "You've seen it before." And then she smiled. "It's Oz."

Hamill's fast paced, fascinating narrative meanders with readers on a tour of lower Manhattan. His view of the city is a pedestrian's - which is the best view, if one doesn't need to be in the driver's seat. Hamill never learned to drive until he was 36. I have to laugh. How typical! What Manhattanite drives their car in NYC?? From the tony haunts of the "Knickerbockers" to the "lost cities" of Five Points, we travel with a most worthy guide. We are still able to see remnants of the British colony, the mansions of the robber barons, and the speakeasies of the 1920s. We wander with the author along the winding streets of Greenwich Village, to the grimy alleys of the meatpacking district, to the cobblestones of South Street Seaport, where the Fulton Street Fish Market and Dock once stood. I was surprised at how far uptown Mr. Hamill's "downtown Manhattan" ventures. But hey, it's his city too....to redefine or define. The author defends himself, "Broadway in my mind is an immense tree," Mr. Hamill explains, "with its roots deep in the soil at the foot of Manhattan, which is why I insist so stubbornly to my friends that the uptown places I cherish on Broadway are actually part of downtown." And if the old Thalia movie theater, at Broadway and 95th Street, is also part of his "downtown" experience, well, he's not the only one who got a first glimpse of Fellini, Kurosawa and Bergman there. So...that counts enough to place the old cinema below 14th street. Right??

In this extraordinary book, which is both a personal and historical portrait, Hamill pays tribute to fellow New Yorkers like: Alexander Hamilton, who was shot dead in a duel with Aaron Burr across the North River in Weehawken, NJ, in 1804. Hamilton's grave graces gothic Trinity Church's centuries' old cemetery; Pearl Street's Captain William Kidd, who was hanged for piracy in London in 1701, "would not be the last New Yorker whose friends insisted he was framed;" John Jacob Astor, who emigrated from Germany in 1784 and became America's first millionaire; architect Stanford White, who designed the Washington Square arch and was the victim of New York's "murder on the rooftop garden" as a result of his love affair with the infamous Gibson Girl, Evelyn Nesbit; and authors like Henry James and Edith Wharton, who chronicled their times from a New York perspective.

Nostalgia is a major theme that runs through the book. "Nostalgia," proclaims the author, "is the city's ruling passion, after greed, anger and resistance to authority." (I smile). He says, and it's true, that New York changes so quickly. "That every generation watches its own past being demolished" - a very acute observation! The Dodgers left us. Penn Station is gone...and so are so many small, neighborhood restaurants, cafes, movie theaters, that were important in an intimate way to our individual lives. Hamill is at once awed by the city's energy and haunted by her losses. As with all New Yorkers, September 11, 2001, weighs heavily on his heart. He lives in Tribeca, in the shadow of the former Towers, and witnessed the horror of that day and its terrible aftermath up close and personal. Hamill explains that the New Yorker's version of nostalgia is much more than a remembrance of lost buildings or the presence of those who lived in these places years ago. "It involves an almost fatalistic acceptance of the permanent presence of loss." "This makes New Yorkers tougher," he argues, "less sentimental. It has helped them move on after the attacks on the World Trade Center."

Mr. Hamill covers much ground in this wonderful biography of a city. He is able to give us a first hand impression of the abstract expressionists who thrived here in the 1940s and 50s, as well as bebop, jazz, the Beats who made Greenwich Village the "Village," and many other old landmarks and legends. He integrates personal recollections along with historical observations for an outstanding mix of a memoir...and make no mistake, this is a memoir, of a city and a man who lives and breathes the city. While he waxes nostalgic, Hamill also believes that the city's changes make her stronger.

The author's prose is sharp, clear - beautifully written. His plain-spoken narrative vibrates with life. And it is obvious how heartfelt the writing and observations are. Mr. Hamill is not an objective observer - no way! He is heart and soul a New Yorker, writing about the hometown he loves. And I loved every minute I spent reading "Downtown: My Manhattan."
JANA
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Great City is That Which Has . . ., January 21, 2005
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Hardcover)
. . . the greatest men and women. If it be a few ragged huts it is still the greatest city in the whole word." Whitman's words from his Song of the Broad-Axe never left me as I read Pete Hamill's wonderful book of his city, actually my city, Downtown.

Downtown is part history, part-memoir. It is not a history of New York City as much as it is a history of Pete Hamill's New York City. It is at once a very personal piece of writing but in its own way Pete's story is one immediately familiar to any New Yorker. The streets we grew up on may be different but each of our individual and distinct stories must share more than a small amount of DNA with every other New Yorker for the last 300 years.

I've never met Pete (calling him Hamill just doesn't sound right) but I've known him all my life. Pete is the child of immigrants. His family was part of the great wave of immigration that took the wretched refuse of those teeming shores and carried them not-that-gently to New York since the days of the earliest Dutch settlers. From the famine and oppression of Ireland (Hamill) to the pogroms of Russia (my family) they came. They came from everywhere. Like thousands of other immigrants or children of immigrants, Hamill's family struggled but made a life for itself. My father found his way to one of New York's lower east side settlement houses and learned a trade (music) that served him and his family well his entire life. Like Hamill, I remember the trips as a kid from Brooklyn and, in my case, Queens, New York to that city of proud towers known as Manhattan.

"Downtown" is something of a walking guided tour. Hamill describes the building of lower Manhattan and its early history. He plots the expansion of the city north up beyond the original walled street that became Wall Street. He traces the expansion of what he calls downtown up through to 14th Street and Union Square and then on up to 42nd Street and Times Square. Along the way we read of his first trip to the city, the story of his parents' early life and hard times, and Hamill's own life and development. Along the way a few things become obvious. Hamill loves his city even when he is remarkably candid about its shortcomings. In China, the term for one's hometown is `native place'. It is a word soaked with more meaning than home and as I read through Downtown it was clear to me that New York, downtown particularly, was Hamill's native place.

For me, it was fascinating to read Hamill's descriptions of life and the development of lower Manhattan through the years. Like Hamill, I spent a good portion of my life working `downtown'. I spent more than a few years in the shipping industry, when that industry shared downtown with the Wall St. crowd. I was a messenger and ran documents to and from every building Hamill describes with accuracy and fondness. From the Old Customs House to 17 Battery Place, 1 Broadway, 25 Broadway 90 West Street and all points in between. I walked to work from my first apartment on 12th street and 2nd avenue downtown every day. And, after taking dates home to Staten Island, I'd place myself at the front of the ferry so the breeze could keep me awake in the wee hours of the morning, and stand in awe as we glided quietly past the Statute of Liberty and watched the city's skyline loom bigger and bigger. Pete's childhood vision of `the City' as Oz is singularly appropriate.

Although Pete spends a lot of time describing the geography of downtown and the architecture of the buildings that became a part of his New York experience, Downtown is not simply an architectural digest. At its heart is the story of the people that built those houses and lived in them. It is said that "men make the city, and not walls or ships without men in them" and Pete is keenly aware of that. His feeling for the men and women that made his city is palpable.

You do not need to be a New Yorker to love this book. Hamill knows, as did Whitman, that the place where a great city stands is not the "place of the tallest and costliest buildings or shops" but, rather, stands in the hearts of people like Hamill's parents that arrive from distant shores to build those buildings and live their lives. They continue to arrive today and Pete rejoices in it. Pete Hamill's Downtown is a wonderful piece of writing.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pete Hamill's Downtown, February 21, 2006
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Paperback)
Ex-newspaper editor of the New York Post and New York Daily News, Pete Hamill, was born in Brooklyn, moved around a bit, and returned to Manhattan where he lives and works. Having intimate knowledge of a city so revered, respected, and loved, but also scary and intimidating such as New York City, is surely grist for many a writer. Each time there are different aspects a writer will concentrate on, and many times one will not see what the other does, hence the many books on or about this awe-inspiring place. Mr. Hamill has a fluidity about his account which makes for easy, interesting, and page-turning reading about "his" downtown in Manhattan. It's a compelling read as Hamill tells the history of New York - easy to follow and it all fits into place - unlike other confusing "historical" accounts I've come across. From the late 1700s and through the 1800s and 1900s, so much exquisite change flourished in the then, and now, ever-growing city of New York. He not only covers the buildings and streets and avenues, but also the many peoples (the Dutch, the English, the Germans, Russians, Italians, Irish, and so many more) who so long ago had a huge hand in shaping the city.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN ARMCHAIR VISIT TO A VIBRANT CITY, December 24, 2004
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Audio CD)
Who knows New York better than former editor-in-chief of the New York Post and the New York Daily News, Pete Hamill? Few, I'll wager. Who possesses a better reportorial eye, or greater ability to spot just the detail that will bring his comment into sharp focus? None, I'll bet.

Manhattan has been home to Mr. Hamill for some 70 years, and he seems to have loved every minute of it. There's also a bit of the historian in him as "Downtown" takes us on a journey back in time to some folks and events that have made the Big Apple what it is today. We go from the Bowery of the 1860s to the bohemian enclaves of the 1960s. Night spots are on tap as are remembrances of John Jacob Astor, William Randolph Hearst, and others.

The author's personal memories are intertwined with events of the past resulting in a fascinating collage of thoughts and ideas. Mr. Hamill has referred to this work as a grouping of "essays." It's so much more than that, especially when we hear it in his voice.

"Downtown" is an intriguing armchair visit to the city that has become emblematic of America. Our visit, while absorbing and enjoyable, is just too brief.

- Gail Cooke
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lyrical and Lucid Glance at New York, February 23, 2006
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This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Hardcover)
Pete Hamill's "Downtown: My Manhattan" is part of the latest spate of books that combine personal New York City experience and New York City history, as do Colson Whitehead's "The Colossus of New York" (in a way) and Phillip Lopate's "Waterfront". However, Hamill's is as different from those two other books as those two books are different from each other. I don't know what is causing these authors to write such material--maybe the nostalgia brought about by the horrors of 9/11--but I'm glad they did.

Nostalgia is the key word for Hamill's "Downtown". And it is not just the strong, personal nostalgia that Hamill luxuriates in: it's also the nostalgia that every true New Yorker feels for his City. Whether it was the Dutch or British who longed for their roots in the "Old World", as did the Irish, Eastern Europeans, Italians, Asians, Latinos, etc., or the people born here who cherish the memories of people and places now locked forever in the past, New York's ever-changing "scene" quickly compels our present into history. Hamill's sensitivity to this is brilliantly conveyed on every page.

However, "Downtown" is by no means a treacly, misty-eyed glimpse backward. It is a studied and educational examination of several of New York's neighborhoods--some well-known, some not. The pieces about the Bowling Green area and Times Square were the most fascinating.

What, to me, is special about this history is how it intertwines with other histories: with America's history, with Hamill's history, with my history, and, if you are a New Yorker, your history. I could not put down "Downtown"; in fact, I read it cover to cover in two sittings (I had to go to sleep) and then read it again. It's that amazing a book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite City as described by one of my Favorite Writers, February 4, 2006
By 
K. L. Cotugno (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Paperback)
Unlike this Native Son, I am not nor have I ever been a New Yorker. I go there when I want to unwind. With each book, Hamill proves his love for his City. Although I felt I knew this City after starting this wonderful book, I found I didn't know bupkis. This slim volume packs in so much history about the city itself, its evolution into the greatest City in the world, warts and all. Most books I tend to sell or give away once read, after taking notes so I don't forget the essence of the writing. This one, I plan to keep and take with me when I return, using it as a guide to areas I am not familiar with. Near the end, Hamill describes a scene in which he had tears in his eyes after watching the passing parade and reminising about the rejuvenation of a neighborhood. Suffice it to say, I was reading that passage through tears of my own.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love Letter to New York City, June 15, 2005
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Hardcover)
I grew up in New York reading newspaper articles by Pete Hamill and always imagined him as a rather gruff and cynical newspaper man. In Downtown: My Manhattan, Hamill reveals not only an incredible knowledge of the history of New York, but a tender and affectionate heart towards this most incredible city. Hamill serves up personal stories along with the people and places that once made up and, in many cases, still make up, downtown Manhattan.

He takes us on the journey that so many immigrants took, leaving the Old Country and arriving, and often staying, in New York, that amazing melting pot of so many different cultures and peoples. He reminds us of the gifts we now take for granted such as free schools and libraries which were crucial in helping the children of poor immigrant families build new lives for themselves. We learn the history of the Battery, how Wall Street got its name, the development of skyscrapers, stories of the Bowery, Park Row and the Rialto. Hamill takes us along with him to learn about the first newspapers and the men who ran them. He tells us the stories of familiar names such as Peter Stuyvesant and John Jacob Astor, as well as less familiar names including Alexander Stewart who wrought radical change to New York City. We are taken to Times Square and the impact of the subway on transforming this intersection of roads into one of the most famous and influential pieces of real estate in the world. He takes us back to the neighborhoods when the diverse immigrant groups were struggling to make their way in this new world. We go to the villages, including Little Italy, Chinatown, and that most famous of villages, Greenwich Village. Hamill also pays tribute to the World Trade Center and the horrific events of September 11th in a personal and moving reaction to the terrors of that day.

Hamill discusses the fact that New York City is always changing, sometimes for the better, but not always. Early on, he explains the difference between sentimentality and nostalgia for things that no longer exist: Irreversible change happens so often in New York that the experience affects character itself. New York toughens its people against sentimentality by allowing the truer emotion of nostalgia. Sentimentality is always about a lie. Nostalgia is about real things gone. Nobody truly mourns a lie.

Hamill is the kind of writer who makes it look easy, who makes it sound like he is having a conversation with you about the most everyday of topics when he is actually weaving complex and often obscure historical facts and characters into a most readable, fascinating history of downtown Manhattan. While most of us have heard bits and pieces of this story, few have delved into the truth of it with the gusto and affection of this author. This is a most enjoyable read and one that takes us on a nostalgic, but never sentimental, journey into another time. This is one love letter meant to be shared and savored by us all.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knocks it out of the park, December 6, 2004
By 
Dangle's girl (Astoria, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Hardcover)
You don't buy Pete Hamill for experimental prose or hard-hitting scholarship--it's more like sitting down in a bar with a great old neighborhood character. Hamill's really in his element in "Downtown," displaying his considerable journalistic chops along with some quite moving and exhilirating turns of phrase. He travels from the tip of Manhattan to Times Square, pulling out nuggets of trivia, historical highlights and vivid memories of his own, quite entertaining past as he goes. If only I could go along with him in person!

If anyone writing today has "the gift of the gab," it's Hamill.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant tribute to a dynamic city, December 7, 2004
By 
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Hardcover)
For anybody who was born there or grew up in its immense shadow, there can be, no matter how far away you travel in life, only one place forever known as "The City."

And that city is the real life Oz known as New York. Bestselling author and journalist Pete Hamill knows this city well. He was born in Brooklyn and has spent the last four-plus decades exploring the streets of New York as both a newspaperman and resident.

DOWNTOWN: My Manhattan, is Hamill's brilliant tribute to the city he loves. It is part history, part memoir, and part elegy.

The book follows the growth of Manhattan from its roots as a Dutch trading post on the lower tip of the island to its inevitable expansion uptown to Times Square and upwards to the sky.

The geographic scope of this book is no accident. It mirrors the area where Hamill has paid rent on 14 different apartments over the years and where he now lives. On these streets, he tells us, "I am always a young man."

Besides being one of America's most famous journalists, Hamill is also one of our greatest living writers. He is a master of the craft. He brings to this book both the journalist's eye for detail and the poet's gift for language. The writing is sharp and clear, and as tough as a street vendor on Canal Street during lunch hour.

There is much here to delight the reader. Hamill reveals little known aspects of the city's history, from the first Dutch colonial governor, who was also the first to cook the city's books, to British Governor Lord Cornbury, who enjoyed strolling around in drag after 1702 and once had himself painted as Queen Anne.

But we also learn how an African American named Master Juba joined with an Irish American named John Diamond in 1844 to create tap dancing. And then there is the first Broadway musical in 1866, which prompted 31-year-old Marc Twain to exclaim: "the scenery and the legs are everything."

Hamill introduces us to a city where "the present becomes the past more rapidly than in any other world city." This is a place where the velocity of change is so great that it seems the entire city is rebuilt every ten years. But there are still many wonderful places you can visit today, such as Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, which, he explains, "asserts a sense of pheonixlike triumph, rebirth and enduring faith" while nestled among skyscrapers.

The engine for this perpetual growth has been the immigrants, who still arrive daily in search of a better future. Hamill tells us the great enduring gift that the Dutch gave New York was tolerance. For New York was a city built on pragmatic concerns; commerce, not religion or political ideology, ruled its history. The only true religion of New York, we learn, is real estate.

New York is a city that should not work. Today there are more than 100 languages spoken on its streets, including at least 10 dialects of Chinese. But it does work because, despite its fair share of crooks and scoundrels and disasters, the tradition of tolerance holds.

Each new generation of immigrants becomes part of the alloy on New York. Lower East Side settlement houses that once helped Jewish immigrants now provide aid to Latinos and Asians.

The immigrants also brought with them nostalgia, which would become the one thing permanent here. Hamill calls New York "the capital of nostalgia." The immigrants endured a double dose of it. They felt the loss of the land of their birth. But as they assimilated into America and watched new waves of immigrants transform New York, they carried inside them the memories of the now vanished New York where they once lived and struggled.

All New Yorkers carry this nostalgia. Even after Times Square and 42nd Street were rescued and cleaned up with the help of corporations like Disney in the 1990s, many of us find ourselves missing the old "Deuce" with its edge of danger and forbidden excitement.

In describing this longing for the past, Hamill's writing becomes almost lyrical. On the long lost and much missed old Penn Station, he writes, "For generations, young men had waited near the clock for young women arriving for a night together on the town. I was one of them. We could look at the ruins of the station and remember girls in polo coats with snow melting in their hair...We could remember a time when we were so young that we thought the things we loved would last forever."

What lasts forever is New York. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand this great city or is planning a visit.

Follow Hamill down these streets and into the parks. Stop and look up at the marvelous Beaux-Arts buildings that now house Starbucks and Kinkos on their ground floors. Stand in Grand Central Terminal during rush hour and feel the energy flowing around you. Gaze out at New York Harbor from Battery Park and imagine ships filled with immigrant dreams. You will find a magical place that will make you want to live forever.

--- Reviewed by Tom Callahan
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For New Yorkers and Everyone Else, February 28, 2005
This review is from: Downtown: My Manhattan (Hardcover)
I am a displaced New Yorker. I grew up and always lived in Brooklyn, worked in lower Manhattan most of my life, sold real estate in Queens and spent my Sundays exploring the various cultures and cultural hot spots New York has to offer. I've even taken my vacation in New York City. After 43 years of living there, I moved out of the city, but my heart is always there.

So, it is only natural that I look for various little things to remind me of my home. I have a little lucite cube of lower Manhattan with the World Trade Center clearly visible. I have books, maps, posters of Central Park and Times Square all around my house. And I visit when I get the chance.

I also grew up in the "age of newspapers". Before computers and before television news anchors there were newspapers. Names like Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill were as well known to me as to any New Yorker. As I rode to work in the morning I read The Daily News, in the evenings it was the New York Post. Sunday morning it was The New York Times.

So, sitting on-line one morning recently reading The New York Times Book Reviews, I saw a review of a new book by Pete Hamill called Downtown My Manhattan and just knew I had to read this book.

Pete Hamill is about 20 years older than I am and he has been a main stay in the newspaper world as long as I could read newspapers. He has worked for The Daily News, the New York Post, The New York Times, Newsday, and The New Yorker. Anyone who reads New York newspapers recognizes his name. He has worked as a reporter and earned the position of Editor. His beat has always been New York and he knows it like no one else can because of his unique perspective.

This book is the history of that part of The City commonly called lower Manhattan, which is everything south of 59th Street, or south of Central Park. No one here calls Manhattan by its borough name, it is simply The City and lower Manhattan is Downtown.

This book is part biography, part history, part geography. It is a study of cultures, cross streets, music, art and food. It is a blend of everything New York expertly woven together to make a beautiful patchwork of what is the essence of New York City.

Mr. Hamill covers the underlying history of lower Manhattan, from the Dutch founding through the progressive movement of the population north to Central Park. He covers the politics and the changes brought about by wave after wave of immigrants finding their place in this City. He covers the laying out of the neighborhoods, the building of the landmarks, the effects of culture and religion on the peoples who came here.

But it is done in a style that can only be executed by a skilled newspaper reporter. The facts, the scandals, the news and the views all blended together to give the reader the most information in the least amount of space. No wasted words that would lead to boredom. No unnecessary details. This is headline news from a few hundred years that is blended together to make some fascinating reading. This is a collection of little bits of history as only found in the tabloids and hunting through the history books, dating back over the centuries that Mr. Hamill ties together to make a story that would grab any reader's attention.

He discusses the who's who with the sordid facts. He gives us little tidbits of "gee, I didn't know that" that uncover the roots of our fair city. He includes sidebars of information that give a well rounded look at what drove the original settlers as well as the waves of those who came after.

The Knickerbockers, Bowling Green, Tammany Hall, the three and a half ton bull, Five Points, Trinity Church, The Jewish Theatre, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Louchow's, the Rialto, the nightclubs, the theatres, the smell of the streets; it is all here to learn, remember and enjoy. Mr. Hamill leaves no stone unturned; these are the truths and the lies, the tender moments and the violent turns, the men and the money that made New York what it is today.

Mr. Hamill includes an insiders look into the newspaper industry in New York, how it impacted the City as a whole and helped to make history as well as preserve it for future generations. There are also bits of Mr. Hamill's life here as he relives some of the most important events to occur during his lifetime in this City, to give that personal appeal that Pete is so well known for.

There is so much more. For a book of 281 pages, it is packed with more information about New York City and its history than any book you could get from the library. From the founding of The City to today, it is a well written, in depth overview of what New York is about. All of this is done in the Pete Hamill style of writing that made him the household name we New Yorkers recognize and enjoy: short, sweet and to the point with just the right amount of newspaper intrigue that we crave to keep us interested. This is New York as it could only be told by someone who has lived and worked here all his life. It shows the love and respect that most New Yorkers have for their City.

My only observation is that this book could have used a small photo section. For me, many of the locations discussed in the book are burned permanently in my mind. And those who live here or have lived here all their life will know exactly the buildings and locations spoken about. But like most folks, I appreciate pictures with my news. This book could have benefited from a small section of photos highlighting of some of the locations discussed. For those not familiar with the locations or buildings mentioned (there is a map in the front of the book) you may want to find a tourist book or a picture book of Manhattan to truly appreciate the verbal descriptions of some of the locations and architectural details discussed by Mr. Hamill in this book.

However, there is an excellent "Suggested Reading" section at the back of the book for those who want more. I found this to be an excellent addition to the book.

If you are a native New Yorker, a displaced New Yorker, new to the area or just curious about this city, this book is an essential part of your library. I would like to recommend this book for anyone who has a love of New York City, especially Downtown. boudica
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Downtown: My Manhattan
Downtown: My Manhattan by Pete Hamill (Paperback - November 8, 2005)
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