And the price is not so bad:
Guide to NYC Landmarks – Fourth Edition
Item No: 09400
Revised Landmarks Guide Just Published!
The Landmarks Preservation Commission today announced it has just published the Guide to New York City Landmarks, Fourth Edition (John Wiley & Sons). Covering approximately 1,200 landmarks, 90 historic districts, and spanning four centuries of the City’s history, this updated and revised paperback is a walking tour guide, architectural primer and textbook all rolled into one. Packed with 200 photographs, 75 two-color maps and fresh details about the City’s newest historic districts, the Guide is the best way to get acquainted with the rich architectural history and beauty of the world’s greatest City.
Purchase the Guide to New York City Landmarks at CityStore
go to that ^ link and then click the Books icon ...
We actually should not be direct linking in this forum, especially for a cash generating venue.
Then you would have to scrap most of this thread.
Last edited by brianac; December 9th, 2008 at 08:25 PM.
It's the policy coming from Edward.
I think this should be discussed in Forum Issues, because there are thousands of DIRECT LINKS given by members as help to other members, and also lots are embedded in articles.
Whoops, there goes another. You can't get Baseball Jackets here.
Reading New York
Page Turners Amid the Mistletoe
By SAM ROBERTS
Published: December 12, 2008
YOU might worry about both parties when a newspaper reporter admits to having a spiritual adviser, but it all worked out for the best for Michael Daly and especially his loyal readers.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
The Brooklyn Bridge, from “Manhattan in Detail.”
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
"Skyscrapers: A History of the World’s Most Extraordinary Buildings," by Judith Dupré.
Mr. Daly’s latest book is a marvelously revealing, inspirational, sensitive and surprisingly candid account of the life and good works of the Rev. Mychal Judge, the Franciscan friar and New York City Fire Department chaplain who died on Sept. 11, 2001, ministering to his extended flock at the World Trade Center.
Just in time for the holidays comes “The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal Judge” (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, $27.95). Father Judge was larger than life, a mythic holy man. Mr. Daly is a columnist for The Daily News, and his book accomplishes a minor miracle. To paraphrase Jim Dwyer of The New York Times, Mr. Daly rescues Father Judge from 9/11’s mythic piety by exposing and exploring his humanity.
Father Judge was as disconnected from the bureaucracy of the Catholic church as he was married to the church spiritually. He was a gentle and nonjudgmental man who, a priest who ran a shelter in Harlem for homeless people with AIDS, recalled, “used to put it to me, if you descend into somebody else’s private hell and stand there with them, it ceases to be hell.”
Mr. Daly’s affecting style bestows a surprising humaneness on mayors and commissioners and, through diary entries and other sources, reconciles Father Judge’s love of people generally, including the police officers and firefighters who lionized him, and his love of individuals.
“He seemed to them to be as close as any mortal could be to Christ on earth, and they did not even think of him as a sexual being, much less as gay,” Mr. Daly writes. “The very fact he could inspire them to believe caused him to fear that if he broke that spell they would feel betrayed and lose their faith.
“That they did not suspect, even after seeing his spectrum of guests get up and dance at the Emerald Society dinner, suggested how determinedly they believed their shape-shifting priest to be who they needed him to be.”
Father Judge was always who they needed him to be, and so is Mr. Daly.
Dominated by the looming Super Bowl, the holidays offer a timely reminder of the oversize role that gambling plays in America. Michael J. Agovino needs no reminder. His father was a bookie.
“The Bookmaker: A Memoir of Money, Luck and Family From the Utopian Outskirts of New York City” (HarperCollins, $24.95) is Mr. Agovino’s debut book. Here’s hoping it won’t be his last. A writer for various publications and Web sites, Mr. Agovino has produced a charming, evocative memoir about growing up a generation ago in Co-op City, the Bronx.
“ ‘How did we end up here?’ my mother said again and again,” he writes. “How did we end up here?” Once they had arrived (his father came from East Harlem, his mother from Bushwick, Brooklyn), “the object was to get out of this place.”
“The Bookmaker” is Mr. Agovino’s delightfully ironic New York story of how he succeeded, thanks, in part, to a 70-something yard touchdown run by Marcus Allen of the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1984 Super Bowl.
“That night, for us, Marcus Allen saved the world,” Mr. Agovino writes.
“The absurdity.” How he did so makes for an engaging story. Bet on it.
Here’s still another stranger-than-fiction story: “The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York” (Basic Books, $26), by Matthew Goodman.With all those ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong. Mr. Goodman’s hucksterish subtitle lives up to its remarkable promise.
In this true tale of science fiction the author, a historian, succeeds in recreating mid-19th century Manhattan in vivid fashion. He brings history to life, beginning with one of those innocuous news items that have inspired many a science fiction movie (“some astronomical discoveries of the most wonderful description, by means of an immense telescope of an entirely new principle”).
Mr. Goodman also charmingly reminds readers of yet another forgotten man who, in his day, “had been known to everyone in New York , the center, for a while, of a great hubbub.” Fame, clearly, is fleeting.
Maybe it’s fitting that the forgotten story of the patriotic Americans who rotted in British prisons in New York during the Revolutionary War is now being retold by Edwin G. Burrows, the sometimes overlooked co-author of “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.”
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
From left,"Historic Photos of Brooklyn," compiled by John B. Manbeck, a former borough historian; "Times Square Spectacular: Lighting Up Broadway," by Darcy Tell, an editor at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art; and "The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal Judge," by Michael Daly.
Fittingly, the book has been published not long after Evacuation Day, the Nov. 25 anniversary of the British departure from New York in 1783. In “Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War” (Basic Books, $27.50),Professor Burrows, a Brooklyn College historian, recalls the horrific mistreatment of captured Americans and adds slyly:
“I have refrained from drawing parallels to contemporary events, but I will not be sorry if readers find themselves thinking about Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, about the evasion of habeas corpus, about official denials and cover-ups, about the arrogance and stupidity that can come with the exercise of great power. I hope they will also see that once upon a time, when the country was young, our own experience with prisoner abuse led us to believe that we are supposed to do better.”
The subtitle of “The George Washington Bridge” (Rutgers University Press, $22.95), by Michael Aaron Rockland, is “Poetry in Steel,” which belies the utilitarian nature of the world’s busiest bridge. Mr. Rockland’s prose poem to the bridge includes a poetic tribute but cries out for more photographs and drawings of one of the world’s most majestic spans.
Any book that reintroduces Jacob Riis to another generation is a valuable addition to the New York canon. “The Other Half: The Life of Jacob Riis and the World of Immigrant America,” (W. W. Norton, $27.95), by Tom Buk-Swienty, does just that and through the unique perspective of a latter-day journalist and historian who lives in the Danish town where Riis was born.
Their shared roots endow Riis’s latest biographer with a special take on his subject’s motivation and his evolution from poor immigrant to accomplished photojournalist, reformer and friend of Theodore Roosevelt.
Who can resist vintage photographs of Brooklyn? John B. Manbeck, a former borough historian, has compiled a resonant collection, “Historic Photos of Brooklyn” (Turner, $39.95), including rare glimpses of the 1908 Brooklyn Marathon and a triumphal arch celebrating the claim by a Brooklyn doctor to be the first explorer to reach the North Pole (“We Believe in You,” a sign proclaimed).
In “Times Square Spectacular: Lighting Up Broadway” (Smithsonian Books/Collins, $34.95), Darcy Tell, an editor at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, recalls memorable images and their modern-day counterparts in a scholarly but lavishly illustrated look at the genesis of the Great White Way. The result is a feast of images worthy of a rave review.
“If the West Side does not stir you, you are a clod, past redemption,” Robert Moses once said. In “Riverside Park: The Splendid Sliver” (Columbia University Press, $24.95),the author Edward Grimm and the photographer E. Peter Schroeder celebrate the history and splendor of the greensward that abuts the city’s underappreciated waterfront south from Grant’s Tomb. An official map is included.
Nonclods who appreciate the rest of Manhattan, too, will be entranced by “Manhattan in Detail: An Intimate Portrait in Watercolor” (Universe, $17.95), by Robert L. Bowden, a landscape watercolorist. This nightstand-size book offers fetching paintings of familiar vistas that Mr. Bowden elevates to an ethereal dimension.
“Don’t Mind Me: And Other Jewish Lies” (Hyperion, $16.95) is Esther Cohen’s tribute to New York-style hyperbole and fibs. If these turns of phrase were ever unique to one group, they now seem universal. The author is executive director of Bread and Roses, the cultural arm of the hospital workers union. Roz Chast’s monumentally witty illustrations make this book gold-plated.
“Skyscrapers: A History of the World’s Most Extraordinary Buildings” (Black Dog & Leventhal, $24.95) features enough Manhattan edifices, including the twin towers of the World Trade Center, to qualify the work as a New York book. The author, Judith Dupré, skillfully couples a narrative with stunning photographs and factoids that distinguish this skyscraper-shaped book from so many touristy versions.
Marie Winn, the author of “Red-Tails in Love: Pale Male’s Story,” now turns her attention to “Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25). Her latest book is more engaging narrative than field guide, accompanied by sparse illustrations, but it is filled with keen insights and appealing anecdotes about bugs, birds and other critters that you generally wouldn’t mind meeting in the park after dark.
It’s been said that if you remember the 1960s, you weren’t really there. The same may be true of the Chelsea Hotel. Julia Calfee, who lived there and photographed the occupants for four years, has combined voices of guests with gauzy photographs to produce “Inside: The Chelsea Hotel” (Power House Books, $49.95).Ms. Calfee describes the Chelsea as “an Atlantis alive with myths and legends which has resisted the process of planetwide conformism” and where “the legend of reincarnation of talent and lives is still so strong that the residents are imbued with this fanatical belief.”
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
...from whence my copy is now on its way.
I have the third edition, which is marvelous, but going by the description of the new edition, some enhancements/improvements have been made.
You also can't go past Barbaralee Diamonstein's Landmarks of New York, despite what I consider an inferior design/format in the latest edition compared to the previous edition.
Diamonstein's book is sorted in chronological order by year of construction and contains a photo of every landmark, along with accompanying text. There are maps and descriptive text for Historic Districts.
The LPC book is sorted by borough/neighbourhood and contains many photos. Each entry is numbered and appears on location maps, including Historic Districts. Several special interest sections are also included.
The two books complement one another, the former best for the armchair and the latter for that too but also ideal for walking tours. The two different formats also provide alternative means of seeking information.
This book is one of my favorites. I refer to it constantly.
The Historical Atlas of New York City: A Visual Celebration of 400 Years of New York City's History (Paperback)
by Eric Homberger (Author), Alice Hudson (Illustrator)
"A beautifully produced reference work . . . here, in maps, drawings, photographs, and illuminating text, are the five little boroughs and how they grew." -E. L. Doctorow
"A treasure of a book. The historical notes are sharp, full, and often surprising. The graphics are fresh, colorful, and give one a new sense of New York, the world city in its everlasting drama." -Alfred Kazin
A New York Public Library Outstanding Reference Book
The rich and eminently browsable visual guide to the history of New York, in an all-new
The Historical Atlas of New York City, second edition, takes us, neighborhood by neighborhood, through four hundred years of Gotham's rich past, describing such crucial events as the city's initial settlement of 270 people in thirty log houses; John Jacob Astor's meteoric rise from humble fur trader to the richest, most powerful man in the city; and the fascinating ethnic mixture that is modern Queens. The full-color maps, charts, photographs, drawings, and mini-essays of this encyclopedic volume also trace the historical development and cultural relevance of such iconic New York thoroughfares as Fifth Avenue, Wall Street, Park Avenue, and Broadway. This thoroughly updated edition brings the Atlas up to the present, including three all-new two-page spreads on Rudolph Giuliani's New York, the revival of Forty-second Street, and the rebuilding of Ground Zero.
A fascinating chronicle of the life of a metropolis, the handsome second edition of The Historical Atlas of New York City provides a vivid and unique perspective on the nation's cultural capital.
I can't wait for this.
April 19, 2009
The Grand Cornice-and-Pediment Tour
By CONSTANCE ROSENBLUM
Norval White, left, and Francis Leadon, authors of the fifth edition of the AIA Guide, due out next year.
NORVAL WHITE, one of the great figures of New York architecture, was cruising around Long Island City a couple of months ago when he came upon an unexpected sight. On Jackson Avenue, in this still scrappy-looking section of Queens, stood a newish co-op sheathed in luminous squares of blue glass. Its designer, Robert Scarano Jr., is one of the less beloved figures among the city’s architectural cognoscenti, and much to Mr. White’s amazement, he didn’t actually hate the thing.
“It’s definitely a cut above his other stuff,” Mr. White, his lean, 6-foot-5 frame tucked into the front seat of a gray Subaru Forester, acknowledged in his plummy baritone. “It has some quality. We’ll have to include Scarano in the guide.”
On this matter, Mr. White, 82, got no argument from his companion on this expedition, a Yale-educated professor of architecture named Francis Leadon, who at roughly half Mr. White’s age represents the new generation in the field.
“Holy moley,” Mr. Leadon murmured as the car in which they were traveling rounded a corner, offering an even more dazzling view of the building. It is a phrase he uses a lot.
The guide in question, as anyone with affection for the five boroughs would know, is the AIA Guide to New York City, which is scheduled to appear in its fifth incarnation in the spring of 2010. The work, being published by Oxford University Press, will comprise 1,100 pages and include entries for nearly 6,000 buildings, Mr. Scarano’s icy blue co-op likely among them.
Over its more than four decades of existence, the guide has evolved into a New York institution, as much a city fixture among a certain crowd as Fourth of July fireworks over the East River. Born during an era in which such guidebooks were a rarity, the publication splashed onto the scene in 1967, when Mr. White and another young architect named Elliot Willensky (W & W, some people called them) produced it for conventioneers at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Architects, held that year in New York.
The original volume — “feverishly prepared,” as Mr. White later described the process — was a narrow, brick-shaped affair of 464 pages with a black and brown cover that contained entries on some 2,600 buildings. A trade version was published the following year (blue and white cover), followed by a second edition in 1978 (653 pages, brown cover, number of buildings uncertain since the authors never bothered to count) and a third, vastly expanded, in 1988 (913 pages, orange and white cover, 5,000 buildings).
In 1990, at the age of 56, Mr. Willensky died of a heart attack, leaving Mr. White, a self-confessed obsessive-compulsive who by then had developed a great fondness for the guide, as the sole author of the fourth edition, which was published in 2000 (1,056 pages, 5,000-plus buildings, mottled brick-colored cover).
There are two reasons the guide has entered the pantheon of New York books like “The Power Broker,” Robert Caro’s gargantuan biography of Robert Moses; Kenneth Jackson’s Encyclopedia of the City of New York; and Jane Jacobs’s “Death and Life of Great American Cities.” One is its encyclopedic nature, and the other is its inimitable style — “smart, vivid, funny and opinionated,” as the architectural historian Christopher Gray once summed it up in pithy W & W fashion.
But after the publication of the fourth edition, the project stood at a crossroads. Mr. White’s mind is as agile as ever, his judgments just as incisive, his wit as razor-edged. Yet, despite his robust appearance, his legs are not what they were.
For the 2000 guide, he tramped the streets of Manhattan and reinspected nearly all the buildings cited to confirm the accuracy of their descriptions. A decade later, such intensive, firsthand observation was not an option.
In addition, Mr. White no longer lives in New York, or even within commuting distance. Five years ago, after three decades at 104 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights and several years in Connecticut, he and his wife, Camilla, transplanted themselves to a 150-year-old mini-chateau atop a hill in the village of Roques, in southwest France, because, as Mr. White explained, “We wanted an adventure before it was too late.”
FOR a fifth edition of the guide, Mr. White knew that he would need a partner. Thanks to a deal brokered by Mr. White’s close friend Stephanie Smith, director of administration of the School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture of the City College of New York, where Mr. White taught for a quarter of a century, that partner was Mr. Leadon, a 42-year-old assistant professor at the school. George Ranalli, the school’s dean, was also an enthusiastic supporter of the idea.
Mr. Leadon, whose shock of dark hair falling over his forehead gives him a decided resemblance to the actor Hugh Grant, grew up in Gainesville, Fla., and now lives in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. In addition to his academic responsibilities, he provides vocals and guitar for a Brooklyn bluegrass band called the Y’all Stars.
“I was hoping that wouldn’t come up,” Mr. Leadon muttered sheepishly when the subject was raised. Yet in Mr. White’s opinion, the fact that Mr. Leadon dwells in a world so different from the prewar Upper East Side in which he himself came of age is among the things that make the partnership so productive.
“Fran has lots of contemporary ideas,” Mr. White said earlier this year during a two-week visit to the city. “He has different associations with contemporary life in New York. He knows the music, the jazz clubs, the sort of things people do, the vernacular.”
Mr. White acknowledges that this will almost certainly be his last edition of the guide, but he hopes that his new partner will carry on the torch. Given their obvious mutual affection, not to mention the way their sensibilities and sometimes their very words echo each other’s — Mr. Leadon industriously seeks to emulate Mr. White’s directive to “damn with faint praise” — this scenario seems likely.
The new generation includes not only Mr. Leadon but also 11 students enrolled in a course he is teaching specifically designed to produce many of the words and all the images for the 2010 guide. Without the efforts of the students, a group Mr. Leadon describes as “stellar,” the guide wouldn’t have a prayer of meeting its October deadline.
THANKS to Google.doc, an application that allows the two men to all but simultaneously edit each other’s words — in contrasting colors, no less — work on the new edition of the guide is proceeding briskly despite the 3,000 miles separating its two authors.
Yet, even with a copacetic partner, to update a 1,056-page work of close-in architectural detail and thousands of images tracing the lineaments of a vast and endlessly changing metropolis is a formidable task. Virtually every entry is being rewritten. Some old buildings are being dropped in favor of more interesting and important newcomers, and a spiffier and more sophisticated layout will feature the footprint of every building mentioned, based on a digital map of the city.
The authors are also restoring what the writer Phillip Lopate called the “ghoulishly fascinating” Necrology section listing lost New York glories (the old Pennsylvania Station and a litany of beloved stores and restaurants).
Despite the miles separating the guide’s two authors, Mr. White’s role is hardly insignificant. During his recent visit to the city, he blitzed around town, catching up with buildings and entire districts that had sprung up or had been transformed since his absence, notable among them the World Trade Center neighborhood, in preparation for writing an entirely new section on the area.
“The World Trade Center was a particular challenge,” Mr. White admitted, mindful that this will be the first part of the guide many people turn to. “It’s a very touchy subject, and we’re being very careful.” The previous guide, which appeared just a year before 9/11, dismissed the twin towers as “stolid, banal monoliths.”
On this cloudy Saturday in early February, the day of the sighting of the not-so-dreadful Scarano building, Mr. White and Mr. Leadon were being ferried around Brooklyn and Queens by Ken Ficara, their Web guru and designated driver and a frequent guest performer with Mr. Leadon’s band. In the front seat sat Mr. White, looking very Brooks Brothers in a tweed jacket, tan corduroys, plaid shirt and a cane. In the back was Mr. Leadon, in jeans and a parka, along with a heavily annotated and much-scribbled-over copy of the current guide, so thumbed through it had broken into two.
As they headed south on Flatbush Avenue, the first leg of what would be a four-hour tour, the two architects snapped away with their cameras while trading one-liners that sounded uncannily like pages of the AIA Guide come to life. The undertaking seemed equal parts Architecture 101 and Norval and Fran’s excellent adventure.
“That’s a really good cornice,” Mr. White announced as they passed an old warehouse and Mr. Ficara, to the accompaniment of much honking, made the first of a series of highly questionable left turns. “All the buildings around here are interesting.”
Mr. White’s visual appetite seemed boundless. “I want to look at everything in the world,” he confessed as they approached Grand Army Plaza to check out Richard Meier’s new condominium, a major item on their to-do list.
After a few choice words for this contemporary beachhead on the otherwise traditional circle — “Oh, my God!” Mr. White gasped as 15 stories of shimmering glass swam into view — his gaze lingered on the plaza’s triumphal Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch. The sight prompted reminiscences about the old days. “When I was a kid,” Mr. White told his younger companions, “I thought Brooklyn was another planet. We never even went except on extraordinary occasions.”
A little later, they made their way to the onetime Victorian villa in Prospect Park that houses the Brooklyn parks department, not because the building was new or unfamiliar, but because Mr. White loves it so much.
“They invented their own corn-cob capitals for the occasion,” he told his companions, gesturing at the columns the 2000 guide called “Corinthian or Corn-inthian” (ouch). He reminded them of the inspirational role of the 19th-century landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing, who drowned in the Hudson trying to save his mother-in-law after a steamer accident.
Mr. Leadon, no slouch himself when it comes to historical recall, marvels at this level of expertise.
“Norval is just amazing — amazing — in the depth of his knowledge about New York,” he had said in an e-mail message a few days earlier. “I’ve learned a lot over the last year of working on this, and get to feel pretty cocky sometimes about what I now know about the city. Then I talk to Norval and realize how little I know. You could literally plunk him down on any street in the five boroughs and he could tell you something about who lived there, which building was there 100 years ago, an old restaurant that no one else remembers ... on and on.”
Knowledge, however, does not necessarily translate into a sense of direction. By now the three men were driving around the park in circles, unable to find an exit. “We may have to spend the weekend here,” Mr. Leadon said cheerfully as they traveled and retraveled the same snow-bordered roads.
ALTHOUGH Mr. White knows much of the city like the back of his hand, he was unprepared for the transformation of the South Brooklyn waterfront. In his mind’s eye, the area was a desolate expanse of cobblestone streets lined with warehouses and other remnants of the city’s dying shipping industry. But that was before Ikea, Fairway and the gentrifiers moved in. By the time the travelers reached Van Brunt Street, Mr. White was utterly disoriented.
“I’m looking for something I recognize,” he said wanly, not seeming to hold out much hope. But the melancholy mood did not last, and for the most part the one-liners came thick and fast.
Of a Police Athletic League community center in Red Hook that Mr. Leadon wanted to retain in the 2010 edition despite its bedraggled appearance? “Remember,” Mr. White cautioned, “it’s not the AIA Guide for Social Progress.”
Of several unsightly structures near the Brooklyn waterfront? “There’s a couple of really bad buildings,” Mr. Leadon said. “Oh, sorry, I’m not damning with faint praise.”
Of a park on Coffey Street in Red Hook whose name no one could quite remember? “I’ll check the AIA Guide,” Mr. Leadon said. “Oh, wait, I’m writing the AIA Guide.”
Of a particularly formidable monolith? “What’s the other thing they need?” Mr. Leadon wondered aloud. “Oh, wait. People.”
Of Mr. Ficara’s navigational skills as they threaded through a series of tunnels en route to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway? “One false move,” Mr. Leadon warned ominously, “and we’ll be in Battery Park.”
THE physical city has been hugely transformed since the 2000 guide. Yet the most significant change may involve something far less tangible.
Time and again, as Mr. Leadon’s students fanned across the city, snapping away with their cameras, they have been shooed away, not always gently, by anxious security guards. This is a post-9/11 city, and a young man or woman lingering on a sidewalk and gazing a little too long at a cornice or a doorway can arouse suspicion.
Amanda Chen, 22, who came to New York from China at the age of 6, was chased down the block by a doorman, and it was not even his apartment house she was photographing. Jon Fouskaris, 24, who grew up in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, said that one woman, angry because he was taking pictures of her building, tried to rip his clipboard from his hand.
This altered state of affairs was particularly in evidence a few weeks ago when Mr. Leadon and a handful of his students paid a visit to Columbus Circle to check out the new Museum of Arts and Design, the Time Warner Center and the circle’s new landscaping.
Inside the center, amid hordes of tourists and shoppers, they went about taking pictures until a woman who identified herself only as Jennifer and said she was the managing concierge sought to discourage them, telling them that they were in a private space and needed permission if they wanted to photograph any commercial signs or if their pictures were going to be published.
After a few minutes, a man who identified himself as Karl Daniel and said he was the center’s director of guest services joined the conversation and said the students were free to do as they wished.
Ruthless in Manhattan
By MICHAEL KAZIN
Published: May 7, 2009
Americans have always been ambivalent about men who turn small businesses into gigantic ones. We marvel at their cleverness and daring — and envy the manifold pleasures they buy and discard at whim. Yet we assume that anyone so big must also be bad. Tycoons get blamed for making the marketplace less free, for corrupting politicians, for exploiting the ordinary folk who work in their companies. Some of the corporate rich then try to enhance their reputations with ostentatious philanthropy. No wonder that in this most capitalist of nations, our leading capitalists usually garner as much suspicion as love.
Library of Congress
Cornelius Vanderbilt, circa 1845.
THE FIRST TYCOON
The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
By T. J. Stiles
Illustrated. 719 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $37.50
Cornelius Vanderbilt spent little of his long life fretting over his image. If Americans were not grateful for the many steamships he built, the major railroad lines he integrated into a common system, the stock market panics he soothed and the Grand Central Terminal he constructed with his own millions, that was their fault, not his. Vanderbilt was the richest man in 19th-century America; at his death in 1877, he possessed, at least on paper, one-ninth of all the American currency in circulation. But like other corporate giants of his era and ours, he saw no reason to apologize for manufacturing and managing commodities everyone wanted and needed.
“Vanderbilt was many things, not all of them admirable,” T. J. Stiles says in this perceptive and fluently written biography, “but he was never a phony. Hated, revered, resented, he always commanded respect, even from his enemies.”
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Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company