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The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the Cityby William B Helmreich
Synopses & Reviews
"A modern-day flaneur, ethnographer William Helmreich moves engagingly through the streets and neighborhoods of New York, making pithy and substantive observations that place the everyday lives of the city's diverse peoples in a peculiarly revealing light. The New York Nobody Knows is a brilliant representation of everyday lives of New Yorkers, and as such--what Baudelaire did for Paris, Helmreich's work promises for New York."--Elijah Anderson, author of The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life
"Helmreich's original and incredible book shows what every nook and cranny of this city looks like from the inside. I have never seen a work that amasses so many observations from so many scenes and deploys them with such elegance. It is a monumental and inspiring achievement."--Mitchell Duneier, author of Sidewalk
"William Helmreich has walked everywhere and read everything pertinent on New York, and has many astute observations about both the essential spirit of the Big Apple and its rapid changes. Recommended to all lovers of this particular city, and cities in general."--Phillip Lopate, author of Waterfront: A Walk around Manhattan
"The book offers an intriguing journey through the jagged patchwork of New York neighborhoods. Helmreich is a native son who has never lost his love for the city, its unusual characters, and its capacity to absorb change."--Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places
"Original and important, The New York Nobody Knows presents a picture of the inner life of the city, bit by delightful bit, as a complete whole. The book is enchanting in a wonderfully old-fashioned way."--Peter Moskos, author of Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore's Eastern District
"In a clear storytelling manner, Helmreich makes the case that New York is a vibrant, complex, and diverse municipality grappling with a range of social conditions and different forms of social change, all of which are affecting America's major cities. I know of no other work comparable in scope."--Alford A. Young Jr., author of The Minds of Marginalized Black Men: Making Sense of Mobility, Opportunity, and Future Life Chances
"From 2008 to 2012, City College of New York sociologist Helmreich systematically walked almost every street in the city, including those in the four outer boroughs — the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Helmreich (What Was I Thinking?) traverses the wide world located in a city whose population appears to come from every nation on the planet. His gaze is wide — sometimes 'doing ethnography,' sometimes taking a nostalgic look at places he lived — and he engages with issues such as immigration, gentrification, and ethnic identity. The result comes close to providing an 'everything you wanted to know, but didn't know who to ask,' as the author visits parks, projects, schools, restaurants, and stores, observing the city's active life (parades, street musicians, chess players) and still life (shop signs, street art, community gardens, building facades). Along the way, Helmreich chats with sundry people as well as the city's last four mayors. Rigorous scholarly and journalistic research underpins his work. Though the narrative meanders, this is appropriate in a book that takes readers through the 'balkanized collection of towns' that constitute New York City. The book's maps (one of the entire city, and one for each borough) and a useful neighborhood glossary make the journey yet more vivid. 30 halftones, 6 maps." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
As a kid growing up in Manhattan, William Helmreich played a game with his father they called "Last Stop." They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever.
Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs--an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and from every walk of life, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch. Their stories and his are the subject of this captivating and highly original book.
We meet the Guyanese immigrant who grows beautiful flowers outside his modest Queens residence in order to always remember the homeland he left behind, the Brooklyn-raised grandchild of Italian immigrants who illuminates a window of his brownstone with the family's old neon grocery-store sign, and many, many others. Helmreich draws on firsthand insights to examine essential aspects of urban social life such as ethnicity, gentrification, and the use of space. He finds that to be a New Yorker is to struggle to understand the place and to make a life that is as highly local as it is dynamically cosmopolitan.
Truly unforgettable, The New York Nobody Knows will forever change how you view the world's greatest city.
About the Author
William B. Helmreich is professor of sociology at the City University Graduate Center (CUNY) and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York. His many books include What Was I Thinking? The Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Them.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction 1
2 Selling Hot Dogs, Planting Flowers, and Living the Dream: The Newcomers 21
3 Diners, Love, Exorcisms, and the Yankees: New York's Communities 71
4 Dancing the Bachata, Playing Bocci, and the Chinese Scholars' Garden: Enjoying the City 137
5 Tar Beaches, Sidewalk Carvings, Irish Freedom Fighters, and Superman: Spaces in the Big Apple 169
Illustrations following page 215
6 From Washington Heights to Hudson Heights, from Soho to Soha: Gentrification 231
7 Assimilation, Identity, or Something Else: The Future of Ethnic New York 296
8 Conclusions 346
Neighborhood Glossary 395
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