Upper West Side Story: A History and Guide
"As any resident, restaurateur, or realtor will tell you, New York's Upper West Side--that swath of Manhattan between Central Park and the Hudson River, from roughly Columbus Circle to Columbia University--is the place for fashionable dining, dwelling, and dressing up. But the Young Urban Professionals now discovering the area (and many oldtimers, too) might be surprised to learn that other colonists had preceded them by two or three hundred years--Dutch farmers and English gentry with names like Theunis Idens van Huys, Hendrick Hendrickon Bosch, Charles Ward Apthorpe, and Oliver De Lancey. The names of many later residents are more familiar: Edgar Allan Poe, William Tecumseh Sherman, Lillian Russell, Diamond Jim Brady, Florenz Ziegfeld, Arturo Toscanini, Fanny Brice, William Randolph Hearst, Theodore Dreiser, Lewis Mumford, Humphrey Bogart (he was a child there), Lauren Bacall (so was she), Gertrude Stein, Mae West, Leonard Bernstein, John Lennon. Quite a neighborhood. And Peter Salwen’s Upper West Side Story is quite a book: an engaging, often hilarious history of this fabulous city-within-a-city. It is a treasury of colorful biographies--of farmers, tycoons, thieves, and artists. It is an architectural grand tour--of the Dakota, the Ansonia, Lincoln Center, and the romantic residential skyscrapers of Central Park West. It is a compendium of Manhattan lore and delightful as well as occasionally horrifying trivia, enough to turn even a casual browser into the Compleat Upper West Sider. The story of this dynamic neighborhood begins with the colonial period, when merchant princes commanded royal views of the Hudson--until the approach of Washington’s troops drove them from their mansions--and continues through the bucolic nineteenth century, when the Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum at 116th and Broadway (site of today's Columbia University) was the Upper West Side's prime tourist attraction. By the turn of the [twentieth] century, the fashionable “West End," as the neighborhood was then known, boasted extravagant mansions and private homes, grand parks and equestrian boulevards, and its own unique theatrical and night life. Author Peter Salwen chronicles those high-living years, and the half century of inexorable decline that followed--with its poverty and often sensational crime--and brings us up-to-date with a lively account of [the 1980s'] galloping renaissance. [This book] is living history--an unfinished story--generously illustrated with vintage engravings and photos of the buildings and people great and humble (those still with us and those that are no more). Also included are special walking tours to suit all levels of ambition and energy, and a who’s who of famous and infamous residents and where they lived."--Dust jacket.
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