Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
on March 18, 2012
There are interesting tidbits in this book, but it is incredibly frustrating to read. It covers 300+ years of the Philadelphia waterfront/port in 20 small chapters, progressing from Spring Garden St. on the north and working south chapter by chapter. But in the process, the author bounces back and forth through time without warning, making it next to impossible to relate one event or feature to another.
Most frustrating of all, in a book that is about a greatly changed landscape--the Lost Waterfront--there are no maps!!! How does a book that is so organized by geography not have any maps showing the streets and creeks and canals, etc., that no longer exist? That haven't existed in over a hundred years? This is a huge omission and makes it very hard to put the events and geography in context.
The writing style is very casual, in a way that is jarring. I can say, with 100% certainty, that when William Penn wrote home to London, he did not "gush" about Philadelphia. Further, the author's personal opinions get in the way, and he makes statements about the current use of some buildings and piers that were already outdated between the time they were written and the publication. It's always risky to say "They are now used for..." It makes the book seem dated. The next version of this book needs an editor with a firm hand to mold it into a coherent narrative with a proper voice. And it needs maps!!! Lots of maps, of different eras!