I Never Knew That About New York, by Christopher Winn (2014)

Genre: Nonfiction
Interest Level: Adult
I Never Knew That About New YorkWhether you’ve lived in New York City all your life, or you are a first-time visitor hoping for something only the locals know about, this nifty little guide will serve you amazingly well. It’s a street-by-street walking guide to interesting facts and places about Manhattan, from Battery Park and the terminus for the Staten Island Ferry right to the very tip of the island, where you’ll find the Dyckman Farmhouse, the last remaining colonial farmhouse in Manhattan. And virtually every street in between, it seems, gets some attention from Christopher Winn, who provides fascinating facts about the buildings, the parks, the art, and the people who have helped make this city the great metropolis that commands the world’s attention. Winn’s eye for detail and storytelling skills combine to provide a guidebook that invites you to linger and look, to wander down an unassuming street to uncover the secrets he promises are to be found. I particularly liked learning about the John Brush staircase where New Yorkers would gather to watch their beloved Giants play, getting grand views that were outside the ballpark and therefore gleefully free. Another delight was the discovery that NYC has an aerial tram, part of the transit system, that connects the city to Roosevelt Island. Winn is particularly adept at bringing attention to the strikingly beautiful architectural history of New York City, not just the soaring skyscrapers but the humble abodes that housed residents more than a century ago, but have managed to avoid demolition. (Vancouver, there’s a lesson here.) And through it all, it’s like Winn is walking you through the city himself, a hand on your shoulder willing you to stop for a second and look. Charming pen illustrations by Mai Osawa add more reason to linger over the pages. The book is the latest in a similar series by Winn, unveiling the history of Britain, Ireland, and London. Winn is also a host of a television show in Britain along the same lines. Were this a book about Vancouver, it would be in my own fairly sizable collection and it would be a regular gift item as well. As it was, this was my go-to book as I prepared for a short visit to New York City for the first time – Winn’s work made it even more enjoyable. Thanks to NetGalley for the e-edition, which rendered quite well on my e-reader – not always the case for nonfiction!
More discussion and reviews of this book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17307684

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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