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New York Streetscapes: Tales of Manhattan's Significant Buildings and Landmarks Paperback – May 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810944413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810944411
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Rocco Dormarunno on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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?"

Rocco Dormarunno, author of THE FIVE POINTS
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Deason on December 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, the photos are so crisp and the text is quite informative. I am pleased that the vast majority of the buildings the author chose are still extant. After absorbing this book, you really appreciate the great architecture and workmanship of the past, the more current buildings in New York just don't measure up. The author does her research and it shows, I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest in New York, it really is a must have.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mark Johnson on April 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a New Yorker all I can say is this is the best book I've read about the city.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ted Leather on May 23, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A tremendous gift to anyone who loves the history of Manhattan. Gray writes well, his information is military in both precision and accuracy and the anecdotes alone are worth the price of the book.
My only wish is that one day, after he retires, a work of all his columns will be published. Perhaps the title "Gray's Anatomy" would suffice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vinny on December 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Drawing on the resources of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, NY Streetscapes has inside history of New York buildings and business districts that I have not found on web sites or in any of my numerous other New York books. It is an up to date work presented in a pleasing "old fashioned" type format.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrea G. Stillman on February 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
doesn't mean that I can't recognize a great book when I see one. Christopher has the ability to bring buildings to "life." Andrea Stillman
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