Gotham: a history of New York City to 1898

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 1999 - History - 1383 pages
26 Reviews
To European explorers, it was Eden, a paradise of waist-high grasses, towering stands of walnut, maple, chestnut, and oak, and forests that teemed with bears, wolves, raccoons, beavers, otters, and foxes. Today, it is the site of Broadway and Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and the home of millions of people, who have come from every corner of the nation and the globe.
In Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace have produced a monumental work of history, one that ranges from the Indian tribes that settled in and around the island of Manna-hata, to the consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York in 1898. It is an epic narrative, a story as vast and as varied as the city it chronicles, and it underscores that the history of New York is the story of our nation. Readers will relive the tumultuous early years of New Amsterdam under the Dutch West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant's despotic regime, Indian wars, slave resistance and revolt, the Revolutionary War and the defeat of Washington's army on Brooklyn Heights, the destructive seven years of British occupation, New York as the nation's first capital, the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the Erie Canal and the coming of the railroads, the growth of the city as a port and financial center, the infamous draft riots of the Civil War, the great flood of immigrants, the rise of mass entertainment such as vaudeville and Coney Island, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the birth of the skyscraper. Here too is a cast of thousands--the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Clement Moore, who saved Greenwich Village from the city's street-grid plan; Herman Melville, who painted disillusioned portraits of city life; and Walt Whitman, who happily celebrated that same life. We meet the rebel Jacob Leisler and the reformer Joanna Bethune; Boss Tweed and his nemesis, cartoonist Thomas Nast; Emma Goldman and Nellie Bly; Jacob Riis and Horace Greeley; police commissioner Theodore Rooseve The events and people who crowd these pages guarantee that this is no mere local history. It is in fact a portrait of the heart and soul of America, and a book that will mesmerize everyone interested in the peaks and valleys of American life as found in the greatest city on earth. Gotham is a dazzling read, a fast-paced, brilliant narrative that carries the reader along as it threads hundreds of stories into one great blockbuster of a book.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Incredibly detailed and well-researched. - Goodreads
Never-ending squalid poverty and repugnant wealth. - Goodreads
I keep lolling over the illustrations in this book. - Goodreads

Review: Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

User Review  - David Groves - Goodreads

The ambitiousness of this work is what I most noticed about Gotham. It covers the New York City area from pre-Colombian times to 1898, and those early years are fascinating. The author's prose isn't ... Read full review

Review: Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

User Review  - Jonathan - Goodreads

Great book. The end dragged on a bit, but that's perhaps owing to the overall size of the text and the commitment required to make it through. Read full review


First Impressions The physical setting From Ice Age to Indian ecosystems
church and state
The Demon of Discord Renewed imperial extractions Revived opposition

24 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1999)

Edwin G. Burrows is Professor of History at Brooklyn College. Mike Wallace is Professor of History at John Jay College, City University of New York. Together they have collaborated for twenty years to produce this book, the first volume in the definitive history of New York City.

Bibliographic information