AIA Guide to New York City Paperback – Jun 14 2010
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"Covering each borough almost block by block, building by building, it is an extraordinarily learned, personable exegesis of our metropolis. No other American or, for that matter, world city can boast so definitive a one-volume guide to its built environment....The AIA Guide to New York City sees that what matters about buildings is not solely their window treatment or spandrels, but the life lived in and through them. THe best city architecture is that which makes possible the world of the street." Phillip Lapote, The New York Times
"Blithe in spirit and unerring in vision."
New York Magazine
"An architect's romp through five boroughs."
The Daily Record, New Jersey
"A book for architectural gourmands and gastronomic gourmets."
The Village Voice
"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."--Constance Rosenblum, New York Times
"Reading [the AIA GUDIE] is a joy, and one immediately sees how anyone--the feverish real-estate broker, the stunned tourist, or the pontificating college historian--would love it."--Thessaly La Force, newyorker.com
"Today in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, 20 people aimed cameras at a three-story row house, snapped photos, and cheered. Part of the reason for their excitement may have been that the building was once the home of Jane Jacobs, the writer and activist. More likely, though, is that the picture-taking session marked the official end of the lengthy research phase for the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City, the wryly written block-by-block directory of landmarks that's become an essential reference for architects, planners, and developers, as well as residents."--C.J. Hughes, Architectural Record
"The new guide, readers will be pleased to know, is a vast improvement over its predecessor, beginning with a redesigned retro-'70s cover that replaces the widely loathed faux-metal version of the fourth edition. The new book is also trimmer than its predecessor, though its content is greatly expanded, thanks to a shift to a two-column page layout. A team of writers, led by White and Fran Leadon, has done extraordinary work combing the city, and not just Manhattan, adding entries for new buildings and providing 'necrologies' for the dearly departed."--Architect Magazine
"Indeed, the AIA Guide is perhaps the finest-grained study of New York's built environment that exists, a guide in which no Italianate cornice, no Art Nouveau balustrade, no limestone carving or postmodern tempietto seems to go unremarked."--Wall Street Journal
"While the majority of the book celebrates the good, the AIA Guide is at its most entertaining when applying its witty and pithy critiques to things considered by the authors to be crapitechture."--Curbed.com
"The AIA Guide to New York City is an indispensable book that new readers will cherish . . . In fact, it is likely the most comprehensive guide to any city's buildings. The sheer volume of pictures and capsule discussions of building design and histories is one of the great publishing achievements of our time . . . Nobody should leave home for NYC without this book."--BeyondChron.com
"The AIA GUIDE is a 1,055-page love letter to the city. It obsessively details the greatness of well-known neighborhoods, while luring the reader to bucolic corners of Staten Island and the hidden Art Deco grandeur of the Bronx."--Bloomberg News
"A book that belongs in every New Yorker's library."--Dwight Garner, New York Times
About the Author
Norval White is Professor Emeritus, School of Architecture, City College of New York. His architectural designs include the New York City Police Headquarters, among many other buildings. He is the author of The Architecture Book and New York: A Physical History. Elliot Willensky (d. 1990) was Vice Chairman of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission and the author of When Brooklyn Was the World. Fran Leadon is a registered architect and teaches at the School of Architecture, CityCollege of New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Even back past Lewis Mumford and Montgomery Schuyler, New York has not yet had the equals of Elliot and Norval in writing about New York's buildings - they are on every page.
PS The necrology is back!
To add insult to injury, the tours are different than the ones in the Third Edition. (I do not have the Fourth, so I do not know what the OUP did there.)
I think that the least that OUP should do would be to send the omitted Walking Tour maps to those that have bought and will be this Fifth Ed.
The problem overall is that notwithstanding the above, this is the only book of its kind and is indispensible to anyone with a serious interst in New York City.
The paperback edition's covers, and the pages, seem able to withstand outdoor use. Last Friday afternoon while I was taking a break in Madison Square a pigeon dropping splatted all over the back cover of my book. It was a minute at least before I could acquire some napkins, but when I did it wiped off cleanly. The mess did not even begin soaking through and there is no warping of the cover or discoloration. It didn't even smell.
That same day I happened to cross paths with a New Yorker (I'm a tourist) who came up and spoke to me while I was standing, book in hand, looking up at 36 Gramercy Park East in the "Union Square to Grammercy Park" walking tour. He was carrying the very same book. He said he uses it regularly. I'm just saying, carrying this book is not "unthinkable."
The walking tours are efficiently laid out. Sticking to them, I have found, saves steps. It's not easy for me to travel to New York so the days I can get there I start walking early, stay late, and try to cover as much ground as possible. Last Friday (Sept 16 2011) for example, I began the 71-site "Ladies Mile" walking tour at 7 am and finished at 2:30 in the afternoon, a rate of 10 sites per hour including a half-hour lunch. After my (necessary) nap in Madison Square with the pigeons perching overhead I continued on to the 38 sites of the "Union Square to Gramercy Park" walking tour, finishing at 7 pm, again a rate of 10 per hour. So in 12 hours I covered 109 sites and completed 2 of the book's walking tours.
It is so nice to arrive in the morning with one conception of New York and leave at night with a substantially expanded view. That's what this book does really well for me. Especially appreciated is the history-of-occupancy of buildings. Here's an example: "Onetime Manufacturer's Hanover Trust Company branch / originally New York County National Bank / now Nickel Spa for Men." (H14 on page 210 in the "Chelsea" walking tour).
The book contains, by my quick count, somewhere around 1500 sites in Manhattan below 59th Street, 2500 sites in Manhattan as a whole, 900 in Brooklyn, 400 in the Bronx, and 350 in Queens. I'm only counting the numbered sites and not the lettered subheadings that sometimes occur under a number, and I'm not counting Staten Island. Every site is on one of the walking tours, of which there are around 200.
Another Customer Review says, "... there are errors, both of omission and commission." (That reviewer didn't specify any). I can't speak for "omissions" but I do occasionally find minor errors. They have not been bothersome. I haven't found any that couldn't be figured out on the spot. Here are the seven I've found in my first four 12-hour walks covering eight of the walking tours:
Page 75: Site 36 on the "Civic Center" walking tour, 415 Broadway, National City Bank of New York. Should be located between Canal St and Lispenard St, one block north of where this map shows it.
Page 88: Site 8 on the "Chinatown/Little Italy" walking tour, First Shearith Israel Graveyard. Should be located between Oliver St and James St, one block north of where this map shows it.
Page 132: The heading at the top left of this page should read "The Villages" instead of "Lower Manhattan."
Page 206: At the southern end of the High Line, "Horatio St" should be "Gransevoort St" and "Gransevoort St" should be "Horatio St."
Page 207: Site 8 on the "Chelsea" walking tour. Should be located on the south side of West 22 Street instead of the north side.
Page 230: Site 12 on the "Ladies Mile" walking tour, the Westminster, 180 West 20 Street. The entry says the building is located "along 7th Avenue to 21st St" but it is actually located between 20th and 19th Street. The map on the next page shows it correctly.
Page 233: The picture labeled "L24" should be "L26."
New Yorkers--buy this book and look up! You'll never look at your city the same way.