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The Creative Destruction of Manhattan, 1900-1940 (Historical Studies of Urban America)

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226644691
ISBN-10: 0226644693
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1904, Henry James noted that New York was "crowned not only with no history, but with no credible possibility of time for history." The image of Manhattan as an urban center so much on the move that it exists only in the present and future has become enshrined in the popular imagination. In eight engrossing, interconnected essays, Page, who teaches history at Yale, traces Manhattan's constant reinvention, often at the expense of preserving a concrete past. Describing this process as "creative destruction"Aa phrase first used by economist Joseph Schumpeter to characterize the process of capitalismAPage delineates the complex historical circumstances, economics, social conditions and personalities that have produced crucial changes in Manhattan's cityscape. Focusing on specific events and projectsAincluding the evolution of Fifth Avenue as an elite residential and commercial boulevard between 1824 and 1924; the destruction of Mulberry Bend, "the wickedest of American slums," in the late 1880s; and the constant battle to promote the planting and growth of trees on the islandAPage's study teases out such important issues as how social class has been defined in the city and the conflict between nature and urbanization. Carefully setting his miniature portraits of Manhattan history within a vivid panorama, Page raises pivotal questions concerning the role of cities in shaping the framework of everyday life and the broader sweep of history and nationhood. (Dec.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Within the framework of the transitory character of New York City, Page (history, Yale) argues that the early 20th-century city was dominated by the politics of destruction and rebuilding that became the hallmark of modern urbanism. The oxymoron "creative destruction" suggests the tensions between stability and change, market forces and planning controls that are at the heart of urban life. Page investigates these cultural counterweights with case studies of Manhattan's development, ranging from private real estate development along Fifth Avenue and early slum clearance efforts on the Lower East Side. A central question is the role of the past in the shaping of collective memory. Clearly written and well illustrated, this work is recommended for New York City collections of academic libraries and urban studies collections.AHarry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Historical Studies of Urban America
  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Chicago Press (April 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226644693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226644691
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,631,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I took two stories from Creative Destruction.
As a native New Yorker, I found this book a wonderful and thorough analysis of major and minor events that changed New York. These events are not simplified; Max Page tells a story that includes the conflicts and interdependency of commerce, preservation, and progress.
As a San Franciscan watching my newly-adopted city go through dramatic changes, I am given guidance and insight into the effects of such turbulence. Max Page helps me identify shortsighted actions as well as deal with inevitability. At the very least, I am more aware; at best, I am a better citizen.
For ALL of us living in urban areas going through fast changes, Creative Destruction is great reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Page has created a dynamic, readable exploration of the history of design and construction in what is arguably the modern world's greatest city. His vivid descriptions and insightful analyses are complemented by a treasury of remarkable photographs and other illustrations. This extremely readable, intelligent book is an indispensible resource for anyone who claims to truly know the Big Apple.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Max Page discusses how the notion of demolition has fit into New York public policy over the decades. The topics of the eight chapters are, after an introductory chapter: the work of the Fifth Avenue Association, a critique of Jacob Riis' views on slum clearance, the controversy over saving the old City Hall, the history of the Museum of the City of New York, policy regarding trees in parks and along streets, a critique of Stokes' multi-volume "Iconography" treatise, and the symbolism of the children's book, "The Little House." The book has over 70 illustrations, mostly period photos of streetscapes and key buildings.
Parts of the book are fascinating, especially Page's critique of the writings of Jacob Riis, the 19th century Danish-American writer and reformer. But as the list above demonstrates, many of the topics of this book are simply too esoteric and remote to be of interest, even to a devoted enthusiast of New York history.
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