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The New York nobody knows : walking 6,000 miles in the city

Call Number

  • 306.09747 H481 (CEN)

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Publication Information

Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, [2013]

Physical Description

xv, 449 pages : maps, illustrations ; 25 cm


"As a kid growing up in Manhattan, William Helmreich played a game with his father they called 'Last Stop.' They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever. Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs--an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and from every walk of life, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch. Their stories and his are the subject of this captivating and highly original book. We meet the Guyanese immigrant who grows beautiful flowers outside his modest Queens residence in order to always remember the homeland he left behind, the Brooklyn-raised grandchild of Italian immigrants who illuminates a window of his brownstone with the family's old neon grocery-store sign, and many, many others. Helmreich draws on firsthand insights to examine essential aspects of urban social life such as ethnicity, gentrification, and the use of space. He finds that to be a New Yorker is to struggle to understand the place and to make a life that is as highly local as it is dynamically cosmopolitan"--Publisher's description.


  • Introduction
  • Selling hot dogs, planting flowers, and living the dream : the newcomers
  • Diners, love, exorcisms, and the Yankees : New York's communities
  • Dancing the bachata, playing bocci, and the Chinese Scholars' Garden : enjoying the city
  • Tar beaches, sidewalk carvings, Irish freedom fighters, and Superman : spaces in the Big Apple
  • From Washington Heights to Hudson Heights, from Soho to Soha : gentrification
  • Assimilation, identity, or something else : the future of ethnic New York
  • Conclusions
  • Notes
  • Neighborhood glossary.

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