Synopses & Reviews
The history of New York City is written in its streets; uncover it with Chronicles of Old New York. Discover 400 years of innovation through the true stories of the visionaries, risk-takers, dreamers, and schemers who built Manhattan. Witness life during the citys earliest days, when Greenwich Village was a bucolic suburb and disease was a fact of daily life. Find out which park covers a sea of unmarked graves. Explore the citys dark side, from the slums of Five Points to Harlems Prohibition-era speakeasies. Then see it all for yourself with guided walking tours of each of Manhattans historic neighborhoods, illustrated with color photographs and period maps.
Can a 260-page book do justice to Harlem, Turtle Bay, SoHo, Greenwich Village, and other landmark Manhattan 'hoods, both extant and long-gone? No. And yes. Roman, a real-estate broker and third-generation New Yorker, covers ground familiar to most locals, and maybe others: SoHo has the most cast-iron buildings in the world; Chinatown was populated by men because women weren't allowed to emigrate; the Dakota was the city’s first high-end apartment building. Fortunately, the author peppers his effort with less familiar factoids as well: NYU’s first building was built by Sing Sing prisoners; Congress exempted John D. Rockefeller, Jr. from gift taxes to facilitate the donation of land that the UN was built on. Though accounts can be cursory (the Lower East Side gets four pages), and the author sometimes announces the obvious ("America was thrilled when World War II ended"), the book includes walking tours and a guide to townhouse architecture, and packs a good bit of history into one handy source. It’s not for the specialist, but New Yorkers will learn a few new things, and history-minded tourists will find it a useful addition to their other guidebooks.
Even if you're not traveling to New York any time soon, you'll love Chronicles of New York: Exploring Manhattan’s Landmark Neighborhoods, a new guide from Museyon. Extensively researched by author James Roman the guide is full of historical photos. I loved looking at the Easter Day strollers on Fifth Avenue or reading about the days when Park Avenue was lined with breweries, factories and small farms.
— Jan Butsch Schroder, May 21, 2010
It is said that New York Citys lifeblood runs green, the color of money. But for those of us who carry on lifelong love affairs with this hyperactive island, the story is much more nuanced and colorful. When you read these chronicles you too will find in them a universal pride in human accomplishment often in the face of adversity. Look for the genius, creativity, derring-do in every area of human endeavor, from economics to architecture, that have made and continue to imagine, one of the most fascinating human settlements on earth. And put this book on your favorite shelf, to be grabbed and read each time you decide to discover or rediscover one of our many and unique neighborhoods which, together, create the great metropolis.
—-Susan S. Szenasy,—-Metropolis Magazine
Not quite a history book and not quite a travel guide, this is rather an intriguing mix of both. Roman, a native New Yorker with a background in real estate and as a contributor to New York Living magazine, brings to this guide an intimate knowledge and love of New Yorks neighborhoods and the quirks of history that have helped shape the city. The historical segments are smart and easy to read, full of details that bring the city to life. The sections are arranged by both neighborhood and topic, from Harlem to George Washington, Prohibition, and the history of Fifth Avenue. The walking tours at the end of the book have good maps, photographs, and lists of relevant subway stops. An extensive bibliography helps to make up for the lack of footnotes or direct references to sources within the text. Verdict: A fun, intelligent walk through New York’s past for history and architecture buffs, best used with another guidebook for hotel and eatery information.
— Sara A. Miller, July 22, 2010—-Library Journal
About the Author
A third-generation New Yorker, James Roman has regaled listeners with his chronicles of old New York as a real estate broker and sales manager for 15 years in Manhattan, and as a lecturer at the Real Estate Board of New York and New York University. He served as Editorial Contributor to New York Living magazine for six years, and contributes regularly to publications that document emerging technology. Readers can find him on re-runs of the HBO television series Six Feet Under, a break he attributes more to luck than to acumen.