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From the urban affairs correspondent of the New York Times comes the story of a city through the structures that define it, from the Empire State Building to the homeless shelter that pioneered modern art.
New York Times correspondent Sam Roberts has told the story of New York through its people (Only in New York) and its artifacts (A History of New York in 101 Objects). Now, he rises to another challenge: Can bricks, glass, wood, and mortar reveal why and how, as New York is poised to celebrate its 400th anniversary, the city evolved into the nation's biggest and most influential?
He culls the 600,000 or so buildings in New York for twenty-seven that, in the past four centuries, have been the most transformative or emblematic of transmutation in the city's economic, social, or political evolution. He describes not only the buildings and how they came to be, but also their enduring impact on the city and its people and, in most cases, how the consequences of the construction reverberated around the world.
A few structures, such as the Empire State Building, are architectural icons, but Roberts goes beyond the familiar with intriguing tales of the personalities and exploits behind the unrivalled skyscraper's construction. Some stretch the definition of buildings, to include the city's oldest bridge and the landmark Coney Island Boardwalk. Others offer surprises: where the United Nations General Assembly first met; a hidden hub of global internet traffic; a nondescript factory that produced billions of dollars of currency in the poorest neighborhood in the country; and the buildings that triggered the Depression and launched the New Deal.