To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan Paperback – May 10, 2005
The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The book has its uneven moments, as the discussion of Westway is so flat and tedious you are amazed that any editor would have left it in the book. And Lopate sometimes does seem a little obtuse in what he passes by - what kind of grump would call the aircraft carrier Intrepid "maritime junk"?
But he has accomplished a decidedly dubious achievement in writing perhaps the most self-absorbed, navel gazing recounting of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center that I've ever seen in print. In his brief three page discussion, he manages to use the words "I" "me" and "myself' exactly 102 times, quite an accomplishment. Incredibly he says that he walked in from Brooklyn to be closer to it but couldn't because of the ashes, and he was "envying everyone who had actually witnessed the buildings on fire and collapsing." Having been down there that morning I find this simply cretinous.
What Lopate has evoked, at the same time, is an awareness that somewhere in our development, we have lost touch with the fact that Manhattan is an island, and that our formidable legacy was derived from the fact that, for centuries, we were a powerful port city. Goods and immigrants arrived to our shores by ship well into the 20th century. And then, for several reasons and not all of them good ones, we began to shun the river, the tidal strait (East River), and our harbor.
For the most part though, Lopate delights in seeing the city the way our forebears saw it. And then, sometimes, the effect is enormously sad: specifically, his journey to North Brother Island, the site where the General Slocum burned and partially sank, where so many bodies washed ashore as others died in the island's hospital. This section is eerily poignant and, to me, the best written. Lopate and his companions did not escape North Brother unscathed, physically and emotionally. And I doubt most readers will put down WATERFRONT without feeling unchanged. This is a wonderful book for New Yorkers and/or history fans.
LoPate is also well versed in urban design, architecture and New York's history and uses each neighborhood as a chance to discuss everything from the politics of urban renewal to Manhattan's history as a center of piracy.
In addition to the neighborhood-by-neighborhood travelogue, LoPate also includes several short "excursions" on other topics of related to New York's history and present, ranging from a discussion of shipworms to a revisionist look at the much-loathed Robert Moses.
Not only is LoPate's own writing wonderful, but he drops in lots of pointers to other works -- I'm really tempted to look for "Heartbeats in the Muck" (about the ecological revival of NY harbor) if only to have the title on my bookshelf.
Frankly, I picked this book up because I thought it would be a good before-bed book -- not too engaging, nice sleep aid. The joke was on me: I ended up staying up all night and reading the entire thing.
That said, it's a highly entertaining, well-researched work organized around Lopate's own walking journey around the periphery of Manhattan island. He fills tales of his own adventures with historical and literary anecdotes, giving the entire waterfront a mythic grandeur. I know much of the area he's transversed, but many of them felt new to me from his takes. Some, like his descriptions of the Fulton Fish Market, are sadly already history as the market was moved to the Bronx at the end of 2005 to make downtown area more tourist-friendly. (One of my students that summer, an Israeli named Kobi, spent the entire summer going to the market at night once he heard it was to be closed; he said it was one of the last great things about New York)
You can tell he's the brother of an NPR commentator (Leonard Lopate), but he has enough spunk and a few breaks from standard liberal party-line analysis to make for a dynamic read. For example, he has a chapter entitled "Robert Moses: A Revisionist Take" where he reassesses New Yorkers' and his own ingrained hostility toward the much-reviled Moses, shaped mostly by his attachment to Jane Jacobs' pedestrian utopian ideals and his reading of The Power Broker. It didn't change my mind about Moses, but it made for some interesting reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thank you Mr. Lopate for delivering such a highly personal and passionate ode to New York and its waterfront. I am a lover of New York (I even have a t-shirt that says so). Read morePublished on December 10, 2010 by Jeffrey Swystun
This is a great regional history book by Phillip Lopate (Leonard Lopate's brother), one of the many gifted New York historians fixated on uncovering hidden gems and forgotten... Read morePublished on July 24, 2010 by paullloydsargent
Move between the two rivers and one comes to Central Park in mid-Manhattan. Inside the Park, The Ramble, a maze of paths on which one can easily, but not hopelessly, get lost... Read morePublished on March 8, 2008 by James Carragher
I love this book. Everyone who lives in, works in, or even visits Manhattan should read this book and take a walk to the waterfront. Incredibly well written and researched. Read morePublished on January 20, 2008 by Steven Moore
Part New York City history and part autobiography, this book has a lot to offer for anyone interested in New York City and its waterfront. Read morePublished on December 5, 2007 by Jerry Sanchez
As a transplanted native New Yorker, this is my favorite book about NYC. It is the NYC that few non-New Yorkers know and that appears to be fast disappearing in the land of million... Read morePublished on August 15, 2007 by M. Atkins
The author makes a key point that every major city celebrates their waterfron while New York turns inward. Read morePublished on August 6, 2007 by Steve Sora
As Lopate says, even though Manhattan is an island, its waterfront is under-utilized and, as a result, little-known -- even by native NYers. Read morePublished on November 2, 2006 by Stan-the-Scribbler