City on a Grid
City on a Grid
Opis: City on a Grid - Gerard Koeppel
You either love it or hate it, but nothing says New York like the street grid of Manhattan. Created in 1811 by a three-man commission featuring headstrong Founding Father Gouverneur Morris, the plan called for a dozen parallel avenues crossing at right angles with many dozens of parallel streets in an unbroken grid. Hills and valleys, streams and ponds, forests and swamps were invisible to the grid; so too were country villages, roads, farms, and estates and generations of property lines. All would disappear as the crosshatch fabric of the grid overspread the island: a heavy greatcoat on the land, the dense undergarment of the future city. No other grid in Western civilization was so large and uniform as the one ordained in 1811. Not without reason. When the grid plan was announced, New York was just under two hundred years old, an overgrown town at the southern tip of Manhattan, a notorious jumble of streets laid at the whim of landowners. To bring order beyond the chaos-and good real estate to market-the street planning commission came up with a monolithic grid for the rest of the island. Mannahatta-the native "island of hills"-became a place of rectangles, in thousands of blocks on the flattened landscape, and many more thousands of right-angled buildings rising in vertical mimicry. The Manhattan grid has been called "a disaster" of urban planning and "the most courageous act of prediction in Western civilization." However one feels about it, the most famous urban design of a living city defines its daily life. This is its story. Advance Praise for City on a Grid "Rarely does one come across a book that makes you rethink the city you thought you knew... Koeppel's masterful story-telling does that and more."--Kate Ascher, author of The Works: Anatomy of a City "If Manhattan has a subconscious, it's the angular numbered street plan that, for two centuries, has informed the island's destiny. Koeppel does a masterful job of telling the little-known story behind this humble yet hallowed grid. Along the way, he introduces a vivid cast of characters and spins some lively anecdotes. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and one that will cause you to view Manhattan with fresh eyes."--Justin Martin, author of books about a pair of New York eminences, Walt Whitman and Frederick Law Olmsted "I've spent most of my life walking the straight lines of the world's greatest city and have never thought to ask: Is this a different shape from other cities, and if so, why, and who did it? Koeppel's book answers these questions, in an easygoing, good-humored manner, with interesting facts unearthed on nearly every page. This is one of those books you always wished would be written, and here it is. Indispensable for anyone interested in the history of New York and cities generally, and bound to fuel cocktail conversations up, down, and across the city for years to come."--David Duchovny, actor, author, native New Yorker Kirkus Reviews, 8/15/15 "For Manhattanites, surely, and for anyone who's visited and been either charmed or overwhelmed by the grid." Publishers Weekly, 9/14/15 "A look at the story behind the development of New York City's extraordinary 1811 street grid plan, which 'defined the urbanism of a rising city and nation.'...[An] expert investigation into what made the city special...Koeppel's bold commentary on the constant evolution of Gotham may stir controversy in some quarters, but he unabashedly celebrates the metropolis that has never learned what it means to grow old or stale." The New Yorker, 10/5/15 "Tells the too little-known tale of how and why Manhattan came to be the waffle-board city we know." Library Journal, 9/18/15 "Readers curious about the growth of infrastructure in large city centers will definitely be interested in Koeppel's take." Internet Review of Books, 11/6/15 "How can anybody have anything much to say, much less anything interesting, about a batch of horizontal and vertical lines? Turns out, there's quite a lot to say--and--it's interesting!" Open Letters Monthly, 11/6/15 "Anyone who's ever spent any substantial amount of time in Manhattan has personally, viscerally felt the subject of Gerard Koeppel's new book City on a Grid...As Koeppel points out, nobody has written about the grid before. But what it lacks in antecedents, City on a Grid makes up in sheer zest of storytelling...The history uncovered and explored in these pages is uniformly fascinating, but the real high point of City on a Grid is Koeppel's meditation on what a grid arrangement means at its heart...Anyone who's ever felt the grid slowly clarifying inside their own head should read this fantastic book and find out how it all came to be." PopMatters.com, 11/9/15 "Koeppel brings a disarming wit...Keeping the narrative light on its feet and keeping his targets well within range, Koeppel resists the urge of too many modern historians to inflate their topic." The Bookworm Sez, 11/10/15 "A must-give...It's the story of how the City That Never Sleeps became what it is; specifically, how swampy fields--a farming area, basically--became the Big Apple in only a few centuries." Manhattan User's Guide, 11/11/15 "Makes the clear-cut case that--whether you like the grid or not--it has more daily impact on millions of people than almost any other urban plan you can name." New York Journal of Books, 12/1/15 "A fascinating and curious story that takes us back through time to the early beginnings of the city...It is also a drama that delves into the lives and travails of the original surveyors...who mapped the island and saw it not for the city that it was, but the metropolis that it would become...A well-researched ambitious tale of intrigue intertwined with political significance...Koeppel tantalizes with little known facts...A fun, fascinating, and accessible read for those curious enough to delve into the origins of an amazing city." Under the Radar, 12/4/15 "Read City on a Grid as a technical how to (or how not to) on urban planning. Read it as a tale of our forefathers. Read it as a morality tale, emblematic of how we as a nation have put money, caste, and power before beauty, skill, and efficiency." InfoDad blog, 11/25/15 "[Koeppel's] book is a history lesson, which is all to the good...Readers who share Koeppel's relishing of the ins and outs of this subject will find his narrative compelling...New York likes to think of itself as the trendsetter for the United States, and Koeppel's book shows that to be true in important ways where urban design is concerned...Koeppel clearly loves New York, but is honest enough to detail both the pluses and minuses of the design that, as his subtitle indicates, made Manhattan what it is today." New York Times, 12/13/15 "Prodigiously researched...Koeppel [is] an engaging storyteller."