History, Infrastructure and Politics


The Sellout: How Three Decades of Wall Street Greed and Government Mismanagement Destroyed the Global Financial System
by Charles Gasparino

From critically acclaimed investigative journalist and CNBC personality Charles Gasparino comes a sweeping examination of the most recent volatile, anxiety-ridden era in our nation’s socioeconomic history. The Sellout traces the implosion of the financial services business back to its roots in the late 1970s when Wall Street embraced a new business model predicated on taking enormous risks. It shows how a backwater business involving the trading of risky bonds packed with mortgages showered countless billions in profits on the financial industry but sowed the seeds of its ultimate demise.


Published in 1890, Jacob Riis’s remarkable study of the horrendous living conditions of the poor in New York City had an immediate and extraordinary impact on society, inspiring reforms that affected the lives of millions of people. Riis’s reliance on specific, hard facts as weapons of social criticism pioneered the style of crusading journalism that continues today. Photos throughout.

New York’s Greenwich Village, “the most significant square mile in American cultural history” and “home of half the talent and half the eccentricity in the country,” is the subject of Ross Wetzsteon’s Republic of Dreams, an enthusiastic and rigorous biography of place. From the Village sprung American socialism, gay liberation, the YMCA, the American Civil Liberties Union, The Reader’s Digest, the phrase “I heard it through the grapevine,” the Colt .45 revolver, and America’s first night court, for starters. It was in the Village where Kahlil Gibran wrote The Prophet and the buffalo nickel was designed.

Occupations such as water tower building, bialy making, and lox smoking are just a few of the older trades that have declined in practice in most of the country, but still thrive in contemporary New York City. The reader will hear what it is like to follow these long-standing, generational trades from some of their foremost practitioners, as well as learning about new and evolving occupations, like graffiti art.

It Happened in New York City: Remarkable Events That Shaped History (It Happened In Series)
by Fran Capo, Art and Susan Zuckerman

A fascinating collection of thirty compelling stories about events that shaped Gotham, It Happened in New York City describes everything from the installation of the Statue of Liberty to the construction of the new Yankee stadium.

Maximum City: The Biography of New York
by Michael Pye

Maximum City is the biography of New York City. It has an exact purpose: to use the past to understand how New York came to be its glorious, dangerous self. From the first struggling settlers to the glitz of Nouvellle Society, it tells how the myth of New York was formed, and the calamities and realities that underlie all the headline assumptions about the city: Corruption, Excess, Glory, Danger and the sensuality which brings its bleak streets to life. But it also asks why – why cramped Manhattan should be high society’s city; why such a metropolis fell into the hands of mobsters and con-men; why travellers always go in fear of its startling streets; why anyone who wanted success, a new life, even a new sex, had to come to Maximum City. It is full of the voices of New Yorkers, past and present, drawn from the newly available archives and direct reporting, as well as from letters, diaries, movies, maps and archaeologists’ finds.

Mrs. Astor’s New York: Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age
by Dr Eric Homberger

Empire City: New York Through the Centuries
by Kenneth T. Jackson, David S. Dunbar

New York: An Illustrated History
by Ric Burns, James Sanders, Lisa Ades

New York City: A Short History
by George Lankevich

The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld (Vintage)
by Herbert Asbury

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution
by David Carter

Guidebooks on History

This and several similar guides were sanctioned by the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s. Published in 1939, WPA Guide, which was praised by the New York Times as “one of the best books ever published about New York,” dissects the wicked city in minute detail with the aid of maps and photos.

Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City
by Michelle and James Nevius

History & Mystery: New York
by Michelle and James Nevius

Secret New York: Exploring the City’s Hidden Neighborhoods
by Michelle Haimoff

History Walking Tours

Natural History

Hidden pockets of wilderness still exist within the urban environs of New York City, and in Legacy Joel Meyerowitz invites us to discover them. This beautiful body of work is the result of a unique commission Meyerowitz received from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to document the city’s parks. During the course of this project, Meyerowitz honed in on the 8,700 acres within the five boroughs of New York City that still exist in their original pristine state, as well as areas within parks that have been left to revert to wilderness. In creating this work, Meyerowitz has drawn on his own childhood memories of a New York that included “green space–open and wild, alive with rabbits, migratory birds, snakes, frogs and the occasional skunk–[that] gave me my first sense of the natural world, its temperament and its seasons, its unpredictability and its mystery.” Through this rich compendium of images of parks, shorelines and forests, Meyerowitz’s magnificent project transports the viewer into the heart of a lush wilderness, while contextualizing these nooks of nature as an inextricable part of city life today.


In the 1970s, New York City hit rock bottom. Crime was at its highest, the middle class exodus was in high gear, and bankruptcy loomed. Many people credit New York’s “master builder” Robert Moses with turning Gotham around, despite his brutal, undemocratic. and demolition-heavy ways.

Urban critic and journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz contradicts this conventional view. New York City, Gratz argues, recovered precisely because of the waning power of Moses. His decline in the late 1960s and the drying up of big government funding for urban renewal projects allowed New York to organically regenerate according to the precepts defined by Jane Jacobs in her classic, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and in contradiction to Moses’s urban philosophy.

As American cities face a devastating economic crisis, Jacobs’s philosophy is again vital for the redevelopment of metropolitan life. Gratz who was named as one of Planetizen’s Top 100 Urban Thinkers gives an on-the-ground account of urban renewal and community success.

Meticulously accurate line drawings and fascinating text trace Manhattan’s growth from a tiny Dutch outpost to the commercial, financial, and cultural heart of the world. This book explains construction above and below ground, including excavating subway lines and building bridges and skyscrapers. Hundreds of illustrations reveal intricate details of construction techniques.

Going Coastal New York City: Urban Waterfront Guide, Second Edition
by Barbara LaRocco

Privately Owned Public Space : The New York City Experience
by Jerold S. Kayden

Invisible Frontier: Exploring the Tunnels, Ruins, and Rooftops of Hidden New York
by L.B. Devo, David Leibowitz



Portraits of America: Bridges of New York City: The Museum of the City of New York
by Cara A. Sutherland

The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
by Gay Talese (author), Bruce Davidson (photographer)

The Subway


New York City Subway (NY) (Postcard History)
by Tom Range Snr

Railway Stations



Central Park Zoo (NY) (Images of America)
by Joan Scheier

The Bridges of Central Park (NY)
by Jennifer C. Spiegler and Paul M. Gaykowski

Birds of Central Park
by Cal Vornberger

Joel Sternfeld: Walking The High Line
by Adam Gopnik and John Stilgoe (essays), Joel Sternfeld (photography)

This book documents how the High Line looked before its recent conversion to a public park.

East Side, West Side: A Guide to New York City Parks in All Five Boroughs
by Lee Ann Levinson


King of the Bowery: Big Tim Sullivan, Tammany Hall, and New York City from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era
by Richard F. Welch

This book is the first complete study of Timothy D. ‘Big Tim’ Sullivan, Tammany chieftain and kingmaker, ‘King of the Lower East Side’, and, to some, ‘King of the Underworld’. Sullivan was a pivotal figure in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century urban politics. A master of the personal, paternalistic, and corrupt no-holds-barred politics of the nineteenth century, he heartily embraced progressive causes in his later years and anticipated many of the policies and initiatives later pursued by Al Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who were early acquaintances and sometimes antagonists of Sullivan. The story of Big Tim Sullivan is the story of New York City as it emerged from the nineteenth century to the onset of modernity. Sullivan was a rags-to-riches story, a poor Irish kid from the Five Points who rose through ambition, shrewdness, and charisma to become the most powerful single politician in New York by 1909. Sullivan was quick to embrace and harness the shifting demographic patterns of the Lower East Side, recruiting Jewish and Italian newcomers into his largely Irish organization – his ‘machine within a machine’ – meeting the newcomers’ needs, taking their votes, and creating a personal following that made him invincible in his downtown bastion.

In the 1990s, improving the quality of life became a primary focus and a popular catchphrase of the governments of New York and many other American cities. Faced with high levels of homelessness and other disorders associated with a growing disenfranchised population, then mayor Rudolph Giuliani led New York’s zero tolerance campaign against what was perceived to be an increase in disorder that directly threatened social and economic stability. In a traditionally liberal city, the focus had shifted dramatically from improving the lives of the needy to protecting the welfare of the middle and upper classes—a decidedly neoconservative move.

Finally, the real story of political reform in New York–and it’s not what you think. The Scandal of Reform should be a wake-up call for Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. If everyone who cares about the health of our nation’s democracy reads this book, there may be hope for reform yet.” –Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City

How New York Became American, 1890–1924
by Angela M. Blake

For many Americans at the turn of the twentieth century and into the 1920s, the city of New York conjured dark images of crime, poverty, and the desperation of crowded immigrants. In How New York Became American, 1890–1924 Angela Blake explores how advertising professionals and savvy business leaders “reinvented” the city, creating a brand image of New York that capitalized on the trend toward pleasure travel. Blake examines the ways in which these early boosters built on the attention drawn to the city and its exotic populations to craft an image of New York City as America writ urban — a place where the arts flourished, diverse peoples lived together boisterously but peacefully, and where one could enjoy a visit.

Political Activism – Preserving New York

Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect A City’s Landmarks is the largely unknown inspiring story of the origins of New York City’s nationally acclaimed landmarks law. The decades of struggle behind the law, its intellectual origins, the men and women who fought for it, the forces that shaped it, and the buildings lost and saved on the way to its ultimate passage, span from 1913 to 1965.

Memories, Memoirs, Stories and Trivia

New Yorker Bert Randolph Sugar ranks the best and worst of New York City with assists from some famous friends. Where can you find New York City’s best hamburger? What are the ten best songs ever written about New York? The ten best books set in New York? Bert Randolph Sugar and some famous friends answer these burning questions, helping both New Yorkers and tourists learn what makes the greatest city on earth so great. With a foreword by legendary newspaperman Bill Gallo of the New York Daily News and lists from celebrity New Yorkers like Pete Hamill and Howard Stern, this is a book no lover of New York City should be without.

A staple among readers of the New York Times, urban affairs correspondent Roberts collects 40 of his podcasts for the Times Web site—savvy snapshots of the city that prides itself on its restless energy. Roberts (Who We Are Now) pens snappy glimpses of its personalities, trends, events and general mayhem, including topics such as the gender gap and eligible men, fat New Yorkers, the New York City pooper-scooper law, gangster Nicky Mr. Untouchable Barnes, and the terror and fear of the 9/11 tragedy. His writing really crackles when he sinks his teeth into the antics of some of those who put their stamp on the city, such as writers Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin in their 1969 madcap political race, Mayor Bloomberg’s deep pockets for wooing voters or President Obama’s early student days of roughing it in Manhattan. Street-smart, informative and occasionally hilarious, Roberts’s new book is New York City as it is and always has been. 20 b&w line drawings. — Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

More than 200 articles and an abundance of photographs, illustrations, maps, and graphs from the preeminent newspaper in the world take a look at the history and personality of the world’s most influential city. Read firsthand accounts of the subway opening in 1904 and the day the Metrocard was introduced; the fall of Tammany Hall and recurring corruption in city politics; the Son of Sam murders; jazz clubs in the 1920s and legendary performances at the Fillmore East; baseball’s Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier at Brooklyn’s storied Ebbets Field in 1947; the 1977 and 2004 blackouts; the openings and closings of the city’s most beloved restaurants; and much more. Not just a historical account, this is a fascinating, sometimes funny, and often moving look at how people in New York live, eat, travel, mourn, fight, love, and celebrate.

Forgotten New York is your passport to more than 300 years of history, architecture, and memories hidden in plain sight.

Houses dating to the first Dutch settlers on Staten Island; yellow brick roads in Brooklyn; clocks embedded in the sidewalk in Manhattan; bishop’s crook lampposts in Queens; and a white elephant in the Bronx—this is New York and this is your guide to seeing it all. Forgotten New York covers all five boroughs with easy-to-use maps and suggested routes to hundreds of out-of-the way places, antiquated monuments, streets to nowhere, and buildings from a time lost.


Nightshift NYC
by Russell Leigh and Cheryl Harris Sharman (authors), Corey Hayes (photographer)

New York is the city that never sleeps. This luminous book peels back the cover of darkness over the city as it hums along in the night, revealing a hidden world populated by the thousands of women and men who work and live the nightshift. Written with beauty and grace, Nightshift NYC weaves together cultural critique, vivid reportage, and arresting photographs to trace the inverted logic of the city at night. Russell Leigh Sharman and Cheryl Harris Sharman spent a year interviewing and shadowing fry cooks and coffee jockeys, train conductors, cab hacks, and dozens of others who keep the city running when the sun goes down. Investigating familiar places such diners and delis, they explore some less familiar ones as well–taking us on a walking tour of homelessness in Manhattan, onto a fishing boat out of Brooklyn, and into other little-known corners of the night. Traveling past the threshold of voyeurism into the lives of real people, they depict a social space entirely apart–one that is highly structured and inherently subversive. Together, these stories open a compelling view on contemporary urban life and, along the way, reveal the soul of the city itself.

by Mitchell Duneier (author), Ovie Carter (photographer)

Investigating the complex social ecology of a three-block span of New York’s Greenwich Village (a neighborhood that helped shape pioneering urban critic Jane Jacobs’s thinking on the structure of cities), Duneier offers a vibrant portrait of a community in the shadows of public life. A white, middle-class sociologist whose Slim’s Table won plaudits for its nuanced portrait of urban black men, Duneier infiltrated a stretch of lower Sixth Avenue frequented by scavengers, panhandlers and vendors of used and discounted books and magazines. As participant-observer, he spent months working the vendors’ tables, gaining impressive access and insight. — Reed Business Information, Inc.


Rogers may be a real estate rookie, but her cheeky dedication to Rupert Murdoch, “whose refusal to pay me a decent wage launched me on the adventure of a lifetime” is the first clue that she’s no newbie to writing. A founding editor of the New York Post real estate section, Rogers is now a real estate agent and columnist who tells the story of her first year of business, and her first year of marriage, with a sharp wit and relaxed style that really sparkles. It is a story of failure, and tears, and immense love, she says, adding, Don’t worry, there are some pretty tricked-out luxury condos along the way. That pretty much sums it up, but the book doesn’t just rely on funny turns of phrase: it also provides plenty of working advice, including tips on handling lowball offers, staging the sale of a bohemian apartment and talking to your realtor. Those looking for some good information on the real estate industry in a book that doesn’t feel like homework will be hard-pressed for a better choice. — Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

My First New York features candid accounts of coming to New York by more than fifty of the most remarkable people who have called the city home. Here are true stories of long nights out and wild nights in, of first dates and lost loves, of memorable meals and miserable jobs, of slow walks up Broadway and fast subway rides downtown.

The contributors—a mix of actors, artists, comedians, entrepreneurs, musicians, politicians, sports stars, writers, and others—reflect an enormous variety of experiences: few have arrived with less than filmmaker Jonas Mekas, a concentration-camp survivor on a UN refugee ship; few have swanned in with more than designer Diane von Furstenberg, a princess. And an extraordinary number managed to land in New York just as something historic was happening—the artist Cindy Sherman arrived in the middle of the Summer of Sam; restaurateur Danny Meyer came on the day John Lennon was shot.

Arranged chronologically, these moving and memorable stories combine to form an impressionistic history of New York since the Great Depression. They also provide an accidental encyclopedia of New York hotspots through the ages: from the Cedar Tavern and the Gaslight to LutÈce and Elaine’s, from Max’s Kansas City and the Mudd Club to the Odeon and Bungalow 8, they’re all here, dots on the unbroken line of the Next Next things.