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New York 1960: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial Hardcover – October 1, 1997
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The massive New York 1960 is the third installment in a series covering the last 100 years of New York architectural history. Weighing almost eight pounds, it's a seemingly endless parade of images and information woven together into a fascinating tale of the changing urban landscape. The combination of political, social, and artistic commentary of the day culled largely from primary sources, along with sharp period photographs, provide a time machine's experience of the city that was. The historic tour begins with lower Manhattan and progresses uptown one neighborhood (and practically one building) at a time. With stories of buildings that were never built, teams of architects fired from projects, and the influence of the mayor's office, this chronicle offers amazing insight into how decisions were made and their impact on the city's life. The implementation of parking meters, the zoning laws to support retail on 5th Avenue, the movement of artists from Greenwich Village to what used to be Coenties Slip to industrial SoHo are a number of examples. For anyone interested in architecture, urban issues, or the history of New York City, New York 1960 should not be missed. --J.P. Cohen
From Publishers Weekly
Documenting New York City's transformation from manageable metropolis into sprawling megalopolis, this magnificent, panoramic volume sweeps from early 1940s' New York, a world capital of culture, sophistication and commerce, to the mid-'70s, when crime and near economic collapse had tarnished its image. Stunningly illustrated with some 1500 duotone period photographs, the absorbing text focuses on the 1960s and is organized geographically, from the metamorphosis of stretches of midtown into corporate America's headquarters to development projects in Harlem, the construction of Lincoln Center and the United Nations complex and efforts to preserve neighborhoods ranging from Greenwich Village to those in the other boroughs. We also get commentaries by Philip Johnson, Jane Jacobs, Lewis Mumford, Robert Moses, Ada Louise Huxtable and others reflecting on battles over architectural styles and urban-planning philosophies. An unprecedented record of New York City's dynamism and continual adaptation, this study also looks at portrayals of the city in films, paintings, sculpture, music, plays.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It is a post-modern book because tries to explain everything with words.
Maybe there are too much history, rumors and gossips.
Too much text, I mean.
Its main lack are the buildings plans and more images.
This book could be the bible of the buildings, in this way.
And critics talk about what they like or whatever, but they almost don't say anything about architecture.
There are just a few very good comments about buildings proportions, its shadows, textures, relation with context, comparison between them.
But the book is a good start, because you can find notes that will guide you to the original sources.
And if you are not from NY, like me, this is a good beginning.
The epic length of the book allows the authors to go into incredible detail. The book is divided into chapters primarily by neighborhood. There are also chapters devoted to the topic of interior decoration, the 1964-65 World's Fair, "Beyond the Boroughs," "Historic Preservation," and "New York and the Arts." The numerous b&w photographs, averaging more than one per page, are stunning.
A chapter titled "Death by Development" walks the reader through the ideology of the era that led to public housing monstrosities, as well as middle-class housing of dubious aesthetic and structural integrity. This same chapter discusses proposals for air-raid shelters, some of which would have had expanses large enough to hold a nine-story building, as well as the 1945 incident in which a US military plane crashed into the Empire State Building. The same chapter shifts to transportation issues, and presents a 1951 proposal for an unconventional "people mover" under 42nd Street, and the beginning of construction in 1972 on the Second Avenue subway (which perhaps, will open sometime in my lifetime). All this in just one of seventeen chapters - gives you some idea of the expansiveness and thoroughness of this book.
Many readers will take special note of the eight pages devoted to the World Trade Center. This book was written before "9-11," and the book's coverage of the WTC is haunting, to say the least.
From our perspective, the era in question (1945-1976) constitutes the "dark ages" of urban planning and architecture. Yet, the beautiful period photographs and accompanying text immerse the reader in the aesthetic mentality of the era. This book is a masterpiece, and maybe later in the day I'll find the strength to move this eight pound book from my table to my desk.