Synopses & Reviews
Who among us cannot testify to the possibilities of the night? To the mysterious, shadowed intersections of music, smoke, money, alcohol, desire, and dream? The hours between dusk and dawn are when we are most urgently free, when high meets low, when tongues wag, when wallets loosen, when uptown, downtown, rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight, male, and female so often chance upon one another. Night is when we are more likely to carouse, fornicate, fall in love, murder, or ourselves fall prey. And if there is one place where the grandness, danger, and enchantment of night have been lived more than anywhere else -- lived in fact for over 350 years -- it is, of course, New York City.
From glittering opulence to sordid violence, from sweetest romance to grinding lust, critic and historian Mark Caldwell chronicles, with both intimate detail and epic sweep, the story of New York nightlife from 1643 to the present, featuring the famous, the notorious, and the unknown who have long walked the city's streets and lived its history. "New York Night" ranges from the leafy forests at Manhattan's tip, where Indians and Europeans first met, to the candlelit taverns of old New Amsterdam, to the theaters, brothels, and saloon prizefights of the Civil War era, to the lavish entertainments of the Gilded Age, to the speakeasies and nightclubs of the century past, and even to the strip clubs and glamour restaurants of today.
We see madams and boxers, murderers and drunks, soldiers, singers, layabouts, and thieves. We see the swaggering "Sporting Men,"the fearless slatterns, the socially prominent rakes, the chorus girls, the impresarios, the gangsters, the club hoppers, and the dead. We see none other than the great Charles Dickens himself taken to a tavern of outrageous repute and be so shocked by what he witnesses that he must be helped to the door. We see human beings making their nighttime bet with New York City. Some of these stories are tragic, some comic, but all paint a resilient metropolis of the night.
In New York, uniquely among the world's great cities, the hours of darkness have always brought opposites together, with results both creative and violent. This is a book that is filled with intrigue, crime, sex, violence, music, dance, and the blur of neon-lit crowds along ribbons of pavement. Technology, too, figures in the drama, with such inventions as gas and electric light, photography, rapid transit, and the scratchy magic of radio appearing one by one to collaborate in a nocturnal world of inexhaustible variety and excitement.
"New York Night" will delight history buffs, New Yorkers in love with their home, and anyone who wants to see how human nocturnal behavior has changed and not changed as the world's greatest city has come into being. "New York Night" is a spellbinding social history of the day's dark hours, when work ends, secrets reveal themselves, and the unimaginable becomes real.
"Caldwell's poetic approach to New York City is epic as he paints a portrait of New York nightlife from 1643 to the present. He brings past places and people alive with vivid imagery, gleaming like neon colors emerging from a twilight fog. The book becomes a time machine, beginning with 17th-century New Amsterdam's Wooden Horse tavern (dispensing 'the volatile elixir that alternately held [the city] together and blew it apart'). As centuries flash by, Caldwell (The Last Crusade: The War on Consumption 1862 1954) hovers over milestones and architectural splendors. In 1836, the leading outdoor nighttime venue was Niblo's Garden, 'famous for its fireworks and festoons of light,' which glowed on Broadway long before millions of theatergoers began crowding the Great White Way. Many Manhattan industries 'theater, restaurants, newspapers, broadcasting begin a crescendo of activity with each dusk,' and Caldwell chronicles it all, from gaslights to gangsters, from riots to prizefights, from burlesque to Bickford's, from opium to heroin from the Beat Generation to the fiction of Richard Yates, from fame to obscurity. Plunging into the heart of darkness, this masterful work succeeds in illuminating the vast shadowy soul of New York. Agent, Anne Rittenberg. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The magic of this book-the author's painterly way with light, the indelible images he conjures-lingers on like a Cole Porter melody, constantly shifting from dark to light, from major to minor keys. Mark Caldwell has an extraordinary gift for bringing the legendary and the obscure characters of night-time New York to life. As I read his book, it made me giddy to think I'm one of those fools who've made it their mission to keep the magic of the New York night alive."
--Mary Cleere Haran, acclaimed cabaret singer
"New York Night
is evocative and atmospheric, the definitive history of the city that never sleeps."
--Kevin Baker, bestselling author of Dreamland and Paradise Alley
"New York Night
is an amazing tour de force that dazzlingly redefines a city that I thought I knew so well. Mark Caldwell has made me keenly aware that I live in two different cities, and the nocturnal one is much more exciting!"
--Grammy Award-winning singer and pianist Michael Feinstein
A critic and historian presents more than 350 years in the night life of America's most vital and fascinating city--featuring the famous, the notorious, and the unknown people who walked its streets and created its history.
Table of Contents
New Amsterdam Noir The Dark Nights of Dutch Manhattan
What Happened at Midnight: February 25, 1643
From Stadts Huis to City Hall: The Dutch Night Englished
1679: Jasper Danckaerts's New York
Rattle Watch Nights
City Streets After Sundown, from Peter Stuyvesant to the Early Republic
John Crooke's Orchard and John Hughson's Tavern: Race and Violence in Pre-Revolutionary New York
Before the Revolution: Evenings with the Yankee Aristocracy
Into the Dark: The Great Fire of 1776 and the Urban Underworld
John Street Overture: Theater in the Later 1700s
Secrets of the Tammany Wigwam: The City Tavern, 1790-91
Hearthside and Rushlight
Old New York at Home
Drawing the Shutters, Keeping the Fire: New York Houses in the 1600s and 1700s Manhattan Season: Winter, 1800-1801
Old Mr. Dunlap: Greenwich Village in the 1830s
Broadway After Dark
Pleasures and Horrors of Federal New York
Broadway Deluxe: Glamour in the 1840s
City Beat: The Moon in the Morning and the Sun at Night Hanington's Virtual Moon and the Dioramas of Monsieur Daguerre
"AWFUL CALAMITY--UNPRECEDENTED CONFLAGRATION!!"
The Great Fire of 1835
Mansion, Slum, and Boardinghouse
"DREADFUL MURDER ON ANTHONY STREET":
The Surfacing of the Criminal Underworld
"Bowery Gals Will You Come Out To-night?"
Nighttime on the Bowery Before the Civil War
Bowery People: B'hoys and Sporting Men
A Sockdoliger in the Bellows-Mover:
The Bowery Steps Out in the 1840s
Sex and the Antebellum City:
Gay, Straight, White, Black, and Charles Dickens
Showdown at Astor Place, 1849
"Under the Rain of Gaslights"
From the Civil War to the Gilded and Gruesome 1870s
By Owl Train to Harlem
Blazing City, Hidden City The Devil and Anthony Comstock:
Vice and Vigilantism in the 1870s
Woman in the Dark: March 31 to April 1, 1878
Electric Costumes and Brass Knuckles
Glamour, Crime, Sports, and the Commercialization of Night in the 1890s
Rialto Market: The Business of Entertainment After the Civil War
Blood Under the Gaslights:
Prizefighting and the Rise of Nighttime Sports
"Depravity of a Depth Unknown":
The Turn-of-the-Century Underworld
Mr. Dieter Vanishes, November
The Volstead Act, Jazz, and Earl Carroll's Vanities
You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake on Tea:
Supper Clubs: Benzine and White Rock at 3 A.M.
Jazz and the Jazz Age Night
Way Downtown, Way Uptown: Greenwich Village and Harlem
Nude and Stewed: The Story of the Bathtub Girl
From Poorhouse to Penthouse and Back
At Home, Homeless, and On the Town in the Mid-1930s
Deco Defiance: Good Times in Hard Times
Mrs. Murphy's Parlor:
Radio Nights and Evenings at Home in the Depression
Harlem Once More: Floor Show at the Club Barron, 1937
When the Lights Went Out
World War II, the 1950s, and the Suburbanization of Night
Minsky Agonistes: Times Square at War Uneasy Summer:
1948, Drugs, and the Souring of Postwar New York
Postwar Blues: Lost in Beat Manhattan, 1950-1960
Modernity, Crime, and the Nervous Streets of the Late 1950s
The Night They Busted Sophie Tucker
Full Moon Over the Stonewall
The Gay Epiphany, Discomania, and the Surfacing of Hidden Night
Revolution in Sheridan Square:
The Stonewall Riots, June 27-28, 1969
The Return of Monsieur Daguerre: Postmodern Night, 1970-2004
Naked Broadway and the New Millennium
Back to the Wooden Horse
Notes and Sources