on February 11, 2007
Every large city has its famous landmarks & signature structures which define it in the eyes of the world. For New York, the statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, Times Square and, after 9/11, the absence of the World Trade Towers. These are the sights that travellers and tourists want to see, and having seen them, think that they have "done" New York.
But they have surely missed the best part.
The real New York, the soul and spirit and humanity of old New York is not so obvious, although it is everywhere around. It is found in its quiet corners and intimate spaces, on its avenues and in its old neighbourhoods with names like Flatbush, Canarsie, Vinegar Hill, Spuyten Duyvil, Flushing, Astoria or Greenwich Village. It is found in the vestiges and the relics of New York's disappearing past.
"Forgotten New York" is a wonderful guidebook to 300 years of colourful personages, events and architecture found throughout all five of the City's boroughs -- to memories hidden in plain sight. These include many parks, alleys, doorways, gates, theatres, statues, fountains, clocks, lampposts, views, bridges, a lighthouse, signs, plaques, museums, homesteads, facades, monuments and even some ornate iron ventilation shafts.
It is profusely illustrated with photos and numerically keyed maps which make it easy to discover dozens of little gems of history right around the corner from where you live (you Lucky New Yorkers!) or not-so far from those cousins in Queens or old friends in Brooklyn you always meant to visit.
Even for an armchair traveller like myself, this book is a passport to rich and vibrant world far removed from the stereotypical New York we thought we knew.