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The Best Books About The History Of New York

“What are the best books about The History Of New York?” We looked at 119 of the top NY History books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 40 titles, all appearing on 2 or more “Best New York History” book lists, are ranked below by how many lists they appear on. The remaining 75+ titles, as well as the lists we used are in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 40 New York History Books



40 .) 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement written by Jane Ziegelman

	97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bustle
  • Goodreads

97 Orchard is a richly detailed investigation of the lives and culinary habits—shopping, cooking, and eating—of five families of various ethnicities living at the turn of the twentieth century in one tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. With 40 recipes included, 97 Orchard is perfect for fans of Rachel Ray’s Hometown Eats; anyone interested in the history of how immigrant food became American food; and “foodies” of every stripe.



39 .) A Modern Arcadia: Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and the Plan for Forest Hills Gardens written by Susan Klaus

	A Modern Arcadia: Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and the Plan for Forest Hills Gardens

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

“Bright, cheerful houses, well arranged, well trimmed lawns, hedging carefully cut… distinctly joyous,” wrote architectural critic Herbert Croly in 1914 about the Forest Hills Gardens community in Queens, New York. The New York Tribune agreed, reporting that the place was a “modern Garden of Eden, a fairy tale too good to be true.” Conceived as an experiment that would apply the new “science” of city planning to a suburban setting, Forest Hills Gardens was created by the Russell Sage Foundation to provide housing for middle-class commuters as an alternative to cramped flats in New York City. Although it has long been recognized as one of the most influential planned communities in the United States, this is the first time Forest Hills Gardens has been the subject of a book. Susan L. Klaus’s fully illustrated history chronicles the creation of the 142-acre development from its inception in 1909 through its first two decades, offering critical insights into American planning history, landscape architecture, and the social and economic forces that shaped housing in the Progressive Era. Klaus focuses particularly on the creative genius of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., who served as planner and landscape architect for the project. Drawing on his father’s visionary ideas but developing his own perspective, the younger Olmsted redefined planning for the modern era and became one of the founders of the profession of city planning in the United States.



38 .) American Passage: The History of Ellis Island written by Vincent J. Cannato

	American Passage: The History of Ellis Island

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

For most of New York’s early history, Ellis Island had been an obscure little island that barely held itself above high tide. Today the small island stands alongside Plymouth Rock in our nation’s founding mythology as the place where many of our ancestors first touched American soil. Ellis Island’s heyday—from 1892 to 1924—coincided with one of the greatest mass movements of individuals the world has ever seen, with some twelve million immigrants inspected at its gates. In American Passage, Vincent J. Cannato masterfully illuminates the story of Ellis Island from the days when it hosted pirate hangings witnessed by thousands of New Yorkers in the nineteenth century to the turn of the twentieth century when massive migrations sparked fierce debate and hopeful new immigrants often encountered corruption, harsh conditions, and political scheming. American Passage captures a time and a place unparalleled in American immigration and history, and articulates the dramatic and bittersweet accounts of the immigrants, officials, interpreters, and social reformers who all play an important role in Ellis Island’s chronicle. Cannato traces the politics, prejudices, and ideologies that surrounded the great immigration debate, to the shift from immigration to detention of aliens during World War II and the Cold War, all the way to the rebirth of the island as a national monument. Long after Ellis Island ceased to be the nation’s preeminent immigrant inspection station, the debates that once swirled around it are still relevant to Americans a century later. In this sweeping, often heart-wrenching epic, Cannato reveals that the history of Ellis Island is ultimately the story of what it means to be an American.



37 .) Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood written by Kate Simon

	Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

As an account of growing up female, it is a fit companion piece to Mary McCarthy’s classic Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood.



36 .) Brown Girl, Brownstones written by Paule Marshall

	Brown Girl, Brownstones

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

Set in Brooklyn during the Depression and World War II, “Brown Girl, Brownstones” is the enduring story of a most extraordinary young woman. Selina Boyce, the daughter of Barbadian immigrants, is caught between the struggles of her hard-working, ambitious mother, who wants to “buy house” and educate her daughters, and her father, who longs to return to the land in Barbados. Selina seeks to define her own identity and values as she struggles to surmount the racism and poverty that surround her. Moving and powerful, “Brown Girl, Brownstones” is both a classic coming-of-age tale and a vivid portrait of one family’s struggle to achieve the American Dream.



35 .) Five Points: The 19th Century New York City Neighborhood that Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World’s Most Notorious Slum written by Tyler Anbinder

	Five Points: The 19th Century New York City Neighborhood that Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World's Most Notorious Slum

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

All but forgotten today, the Five Points neighborhood in Lower Manhattan was once renowned the world over. From Jacob Riis to Abraham Lincoln, Davy Crockett to Charles Dickens, Five Points both horrified and inspired everyone who saw it. While it comprised only a handful of streets, many of America’s most impoverished African Americans and Irish, Jewish, German, and Italian immigrants sweated out their existence there. Located in today’s Chinatown, Five Points witnessed more riots, scams, prostitution, and drunkenness than any other neighborhood in America. But at the same time it was a font of creative energy, crammed full of cheap theaters, dance halls, and boxing matches. It was also the home of meeting halls for the political clubs and the machine politicians who would come to dominate not just the city but an entire era in American politics.



34 .) Greenwich Village and How it Got that Way written by Terry Miller

	Greenwich Village and How it Got that Way

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

An illustrated walking tour of Greenwich Village explores the rich social and cultural history of the legendary New York City neighborhood



33 .) Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City written by Jonathan Mahler

	Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

By early 1977, the metropolis was in the grip of hysteria caused by a murderer dubbed “Son of Sam.” And on a sweltering night in July, a citywide power outage touched off an orgy of looting and arson that led to the largest mass arrest in New York’s history. As the turbulent year wore on, the city became absorbed in two epic battles: the fight between Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin, and the battle between Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo for the city’s mayoralty. Buried beneath these parallel conflicts―one for the soul of baseball, the other for the soul of the city―was the subtext of race. The brash and confident Jackson took every black myth and threw it back in white America’s face. Meanwhile, Koch and Cuomo ran bitterly negative campaigns that played upon urbanites’ fears of soaring crime and falling municipal budgets.



32 .) Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York written by Luc Sante

	Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground 2
  • Riffle

Luc Sante’s Low Life is a portrait of America’s greatest city, the riotous and anarchic breeding ground of modernity. This is not the familiar saga of mansions, avenues, and robber barons, but the messy, turbulent, often murderous story of the city’s slums; the teeming streets–scene of innumerable cons and crimes whose cramped and overcrowded housing is still a prominent feature of the cityscape. Low Life voyages through Manhattan from four different directions. Part One examines the actual topography of Manhattan from 1840 to 1919; Part Two, the era’s opportunities for vice and entertainment–theaters and saloons, opium and cocaine dens, gambling and prostitution; Part Three investigates the forces of law and order which did and didn’t work to contain the illegalities; Part Four counterposes the city’s tides of revolt and idealism against the city as it actually was. Low Life provides an arresting and entertaining view of what New York was actually like in its salad days. But it’s more than simpy a book about New York. It’s one of the most provocative books about urban life ever written–an evocation of the mythology of the quintessential modern metropolis, which has much to say not only about New York’s past but about the present and future of all cities.



31 .) Made on Staten Island written by Charles L. Sachs

	Made on Staten Island

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

The whole island is like a garden, and affords very fine scenery. Henry David Thoreau. So wrote the famous philosopher in 1843 of Staten Island, which has changed tremendously since then. The change is not so much scenic as economic. Made on Staten Island tells the story of how commerce and industry were conceived on the island and chronicles the successive industries that found a home there. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the island had been predominantly rural. In the 19th century it increasingly became an industrial center, the home of oystermen and maritime traders, shipbuilders, cabinetmakers, brewers, textile manufacturers, toolmakers, and carriage manufacturers. Later, Staten Island became an important manufacturing center for soap (Procter & Gamble), linoleum, and Atlantic Terra Cotta, to name a few of the products produced there. From the artisans of the 19th century to the manufacturers of the 20th, Made on Staten Island conveys in words and photographs the story of the economic opportunities provided to successive generations of Staten Islanders.



30 .) New York Before Chinatown written by John Kuo Wei Tchen

	New York Before Chinatown

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

From George Washington’s desire (in the heat of the Revolutionary War) for a proper set of Chinese porcelains for afternoon tea, to the lives of Chinese-Irish couples in the 1830s, to the commercial success of Chang and Eng (the “Siamese Twins”), to rising fears of “heathen Chinee,” New York before Chinatown offers a provocative look at the role Chinese people, things, and ideas played in the fashioning of American culture and politics. Piecing together various historical fragments and anecdotes from the years before Chinatown emerged in the late 1870s, historian John Kuo Wei Tchen redraws Manhattan’s historical landscape and broadens our understanding of the role of port cultures in the making of American identities. Tchen tells his story in three parts. In the first, he explores America’s fascination with Asia as a source of luxury items, cultural taste, and lucrative trade. In the second, he explains how Chinese, European-Americans in Yellowface, and various caricatures became objects of curiosity in the expansive commercial marketplace. In the third part, Tchen focuses on how Americans’ attitude toward the Chinese changed from fascination to demonization, leading to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Acts beginning in 1882.



29 .) New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan written by Jill Lepore

	New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

Pulitzer Prize Finalist Anisfield-Wolf Award Winner Over a frigid few weeks in the winter of 1741, ten fires blazed across Manhattan. With each new fire, panicked whites saw more evidence of a slave uprising. In the end, thirteen black men were burned at the stake, seventeen were hanged and more than one hundred black men and women were thrown into a dungeon beneath City Hall. In New York Burning, Bancroft Prize-winning historian Jill Lepore recounts these dramatic events, re-creating, with path-breaking research, the nascent New York of the seventeenth century. Even then, the city was a rich mosaic of cultures, communities and colors, with slaves making up a full one-fifth of the population. Exploring the political and social climate of the times, Lepore dramatically shows how, in a city rife with state intrigue and terror, the threat of black rebellion united the white political pluralities in a frenzy of racial fear and violence.



28 .) Riverdale, Kingsbridge & Spuyten Duyvil written by William A. Tieck

	Riverdale, Kingsbridge & Spuyten Duyvil

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

Historical overview of three communities in the Northwest Bronx, New York City.



27 .) Sailor’s Snug Harbor 1801-1876 written by Barnett Shepherd

	Sailor’s Snug Harbor 1801-1876

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History



26 .) Sandy Ground Memories written by Lois Mosley

	Sandy Ground Memories

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History



25 .) South Street: A Photographic Guide to New York City’s Historic Seaport written by Ellen Fletcher Rosebrock

	South Street: A Photographic Guide to New York City’s Historic Seaport

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History



24 .) Staten Island and its People written by William T. Davis and Charles W. Leng

	Staten Island and its People

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History



23 .) The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and the Unplanned written by Daniel Campo

	The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and the Unplanned

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

Drawing on a rich mix of documentary strategies, including observation, ethnography, photography, and first-person narrative, Daniel Campo probes this accidental playground, allowing those who created it to share and examine their own narratives, perspectives, and conflicts. The multiple constituencies of this waterfront were surprisingly diverse, their stories colorful and provocative. When taken together, Campo argues, they suggest a radical reimagining of urban parks and public spaces, and the practices by which they are created and maintained.



22 .) The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution written by Barnet Schecter

	The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground 2
  • Goodreads

The Battle for New York tells the story of how the city became the pivot on which the American Revolution turned: from the political and religious struggles of the 1760s and early ’70s that made the city a hotbed of political action to the campaign of 1776 that turned today’s five boroughs and Westchester County into a series of battlefields to the seven years of British occupation and martial law. The struggle for control of New York was by far the largest military venture of the Revolutionary War, involving almost every significant participant on both sides from General William Howe to Nathan Hale, Benedict Arnold to George Washington. Barnet Schecter brilliantly links eighteenth-century events with the city’s modern landscape, illuminating the forgotten battlefield that remains in our midst.



21 .) The Beautiful Bronx 1920-1950 written by Lloyd Ultan

	The Beautiful Bronx 1920-1950

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

A native Bronxite takes us back to the heyday years of the Bronx.



20 .) The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge written by Gay Talese

	The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bustle
  • Riffle

With a new preface and afterword by the author and drawings by Lili Rethi. Towards the end of 1964, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge–linking the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island with New Jersey–was completed. It remains an engineering marvel almost forty years later–at 13,700 feet (more than two and a half miles), it is still the longest suspension bridge in the United States and the sixth longest in the world. Gay Talese, then early in his career at the New York Times, closely followed the construction, and soon after the opening his book The Bridge appeared. Never before in paperback, it remains both a riveting human drama of politics and courage, and a demonstration of Talese’s consummate skills as a reporter and storyteller. His memorable narrative–accompanied, as then, by the astonishingly beautiful working drawings of Lili Rethi–will now captivate a new generation of readers.



19 .) The City Boy written by Herman Wouk

	The City Boy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

City Boy’ spins a hilarious and often touching tale of an urban kid’s adventures and misadventures on the street, in school, in the countryside, always in pursuit of Lucille, a heartless redhead personifying all the girls who torment and fascinate pubescent lads of eleven.



18 .) The Future of Us All written by Roger Sanjek

	The Future of Us All

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

Before the next century is out, Americans of African, Asian, and Latin American ancestry will outnumber those of European origin. In the Elmhurst-Corona neighborhood of Queens, New York City, the transition occurred during the 1970s, and the area’s two-decade experience of multiracial diversity offers us an early look at the future of urban America. The result of more than a dozen years’ work, this remarkable book immerses us in Elmhurst-Corona’s social and political life from the 1960s through the 1990s. First settled in 1652, Elmhurst-Corona by 1960 housed a mix of Germans, Irish, Italians, and other “white ethnics.” In 1990 this population made up less than a fifth of its residents; Latin American and Asian immigrants and African Americans comprised the majority. The Future of Us All focuses on the combined impact of racial change, immigrant settlement, governmental decentralization, and assaults on local quality of life which stemmed from the city’s 1975 fiscal crisis and the policies of its last three mayors. The book examines the ways in which residents–in everyday interactions, block and tenant associations, houses of worship, small business coalitions, civic rituals, incidents of ethnic and racial hostility, and political struggles against overdevelopment, for more schools, and for youth programs–have forged and tested alliances across lines of race, ethnicity, and language. From the telling local details of daily life to the larger economic and regional frameworks, this account of a neighborhood’s transformation illuminates the issues that American communities will be grappling with in the coming decades.



17 .) The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld written by Herbert Asbury

	The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

The Gangs of New York has long been hand-passed among its cult readership. It is a tour through a now unrecognizable city of abysmal poverty and habitual violence cobbled, as Luc Sante has written, “from legend, memory, police records, the self-aggrandizements of aging crooks, popular journalism, and solid historical research.



16 .) The Girls: Jewish Women of Brownsville Brooklyn, 1940-1995 written by Carole Bell Ford

	The Girls: Jewish Women of Brownsville Brooklyn, 1940-1995

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

This book tells the stories of the Jewish women who came of age in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in the 1940s and 1950s. Through in-depth interviews with more than forty women, Carole Bell Ford explores the choices these women made and the boundaries within which they made them, offering fresh insights into the culture and values of Jewish women in the postwar period. Not content to remain in the past, The Girls is also a story of women who live in the present, who lead fulfilling lives even as they struggle to adjust to changes in American society that conflict with their own values and that have profoundly affected the lives of their children and grandchildren.



15 .) The Great Bridge : The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge written by David G. McCullough

	The Great Bridge : The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

Published on the fortieth anniversary of its initial publication, this edition of the classic book contains a new Preface by David McCullough, “one of our most gifted living writers” (The Washington Post).Built to join the rapidly expanding cities of New York and Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge was thought by many at the start to be an impossibility destined to fail if not from insurmountable technical problems then from political corruption. (It was the heyday of Boss Tweed in New York.) But the Brooklyn Bridge was at once the greatest engineering triumph of the age, a surpassing work of art, a proud American icon, and a story like no other in our history. Courage, chicanery, unprecedented ingenuity and plain blundering, heroes, rascals, all the best and worst in human nature played a part. At the center of the drama were the stricken chief engineer, Washington Roebling and his remarkable wife, Emily Warren Roebling, neither of whom ever gave up in the face of one heartbreaking setback after another. The Great Bridge is a sweeping narrative of a stupendous American achievement that rose up out of its era like a cathedral, a symbol of affirmation then and still in our time.



14 .) The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930 written by Steven Watson

	The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

It was W.E.B. DuBois who paved the way with his essays and his magazine The Crisis, but the Harlem Renaissance was mostly a literary and intellectual movement whose best known figures include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer. Their work ranged from sonnets to modernist verse to jazz aesthetics and folklore, and their mission was race propaganda and pure art. Adding to their visibility were famous jazz musicians, producers of all-black revues, and bootleggers. Now available in paperback, this richly-illustrated book contains more than 70 black-and-white photographs and drawings. Steven Watson clearly traces the rise and flowering of this movement, evoking its main figures as well as setting the scene–describing Harlem from the Cotton Club to its literary salons, from its white patrons like Carl van Vechten to its most famous entertainers such as Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker, Ethel Waters, Alberta Hunter, Fats Waller, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong among many others. He depicts the social life of working-class speakeasies, rent parties, gay and lesbian nightlife, as well as the celebrated parties at the twin limestone houses owned by hostess A’Lelia Walker.



13 .) The Historical Atlas of New York City: A Visual Celebration of Nearly 400 Years of New York City’s History written by Eric Homberger

	The Historical Atlas of New York City: A Visual Celebration of Nearly 400 Years of New York City's History

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground 2
  • Goodreads

A New York Public Library Outstanding Reference Book The rich and eminently browsable visual guide to the history of New York, in an all-new second edition The Historical Atlas of New York City, second edition, takes us, neighborhood by neighborhood, through four hundred years of Gotham’s rich past, describing such crucial events as the city’s initial settlement of 270 people in thirty log houses; John Jacob Astor’s meteoric rise from humble fur trader to the richest, most powerful man in the city; and the fascinating ethnic mixture that is modern Queens. The full-color maps, charts, photographs, drawings, and mini-essays of this encyclopedic volume also trace the historical development and cultural relevance of such iconic New York thoroughfares as Fifth Avenue, Wall Street, Park Avenue, and Broadway. This thoroughly updated edition brings the Atlas up to the present, including three all-new two-page spreads on Rudolph Giuliani’s New York, the revival of Forty-second Street, and the rebuilding of Ground Zero.



12 .) The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York written by Suleiman Osman

	The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

Considered one of the city’s most notorious industrial slums in the 1940s and 1950s, Brownstone Brooklyn by the 1980s had become a post-industrial landscape of hip bars, yoga studios, and beautifully renovated, wildly expensive townhouses. In The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, Suleiman Osman offers a groundbreaking history of this unexpected transformation. Challenging the conventional wisdom that New York City’s renaissance started in the 1990s, Osman locates the origins of gentrification in Brooklyn in the cultural upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. Gentrification began as a grassroots movement led by young and idealistic white college graduates searching for “authenticity” and life outside the burgeoning suburbs. Where postwar city leaders championed slum clearance and modern architecture, “brownstoners” (as they called themselves) fought for a new romantic urban ideal that celebrated historic buildings, industrial lofts and traditional ethnic neighborhoods as a refuge from an increasingly technocratic society. Osman examines the emergence of a “slow-growth” progressive coalition as brownstoners joined with poorer residents to battle city planners and local machine politicians. But as brownstoners migrated into poorer areas, race and class tensions emerged, and by the 1980s, as newspapers parodied yuppies and anti-gentrification activists marched through increasingly expensive neighborhoods, brownstoners debated whether their search for authenticity had been a success or failure.



11 .) The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America written by Russell Shorto

	The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

When the British wrested New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the truth about its thriving, polyglot society began to disappear into myths about an island purchased for 24 dollars and a cartoonish peg-legged governor. But the story of the Dutch colony of New Netherland was merely lost, not destroyed: 12,000 pages of its records–recently declared a national treasure–are now being translated. Drawing on this remarkable archive, Russell Shorto has created a gripping narrative–a story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan–that transforms our understanding of early America. The Dutch colony pre-dated the “original” thirteen colonies, yet it seems strikingly familiar. Its capital was cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, and its citizens valued free trade, individual rights, and religious freedom. Their champion was a progressive, young lawyer named Adriaen van der Donck, who emerges in these pages as a forgotten American patriot and whose political vision brought him into conflict with Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic director of the Dutch colony. The struggle between these two strong-willed men laid the foundation for New York City and helped shape American culture. The Island at the Center of the World uncovers a lost world and offers a surprising new perspective on our own.



10 .) The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited: A History and Guide to a Legendary New York Neighborhood written by Joyce Mendelsohn

	The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited: A History and Guide to a Legendary New York Neighborhood

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

The Lower East Side has been home to some of the city’s most iconic restaurants, shopping venues, and architecture. The neighborhood has also welcomed generations of immigrants, from newly arrived Italians and Jews to today’s Latino and Asian newcomers. This history has become somewhat obscured, however, as the Lower East Side can appear more hip than historic, with wealth and gentrification changing the character of the neighborhood.



9 .) The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1890-1950 written by Robert Orsi

	The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1890-1950

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

In a masterful evocation of Italian Harlem and the men and women who lived there, Robert Orsi examines how the annual festa of the Madonna of 115th Street both influenced and reflected the lives of the celebrants. His prize-winning book offers a new perspective on lived religion, the place of religion in the everyday lives of men, women, and children, the experiences of immigration and community formation, and American Catholicism. This edition includes a new introduction by the author that outlines both the changes that Italian Harlem has undergone in recent years and significant shifts in the field of religious history.



8 .) The Park and the People: A History of Central Park written by Elizabeth Blackmar and Roy Rosenzweig

	The Park and the People: A History of Central Park

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

This “exemplary social history” (Kirkus Reviews) is the first full-scale account of Central Park ever published. Elizabeth Blackmar and Roy Rosenzweig tell the story of Central Park’s people―the merchants and landowners who launched the project; the immigrant and African-American residents who were displaced by the park; the politicians, gentlemen, and artists who disputed its design and operation; the German gardeners, Irish laborers, and Yankee engineers who built it; and the generations of New Yorkers for whom Central Park was their only backyard. In tracing the park’s history, Blackmar and Rosenzweig give us the history of New York, and bring to life larger issues about the meaning of the word “public” in a democratic society.



7 .) The Synagogues of New York’s Lower East Side, Second Edition written by Gerard Wolfe, Jo Renee Fine, Joseph Berger, and Norman Borden

	The Synagogues of New York’s Lower East Side, Second Edition

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

It has often been said that nowhere in the United States can one find a greater collection of magnificent and historic synagogues than on New York’s Lower East Side. As the ultimate destination for millions of immigrant eastern European Jews during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it became the new homeland and hoped-for goldene medinah (promised land) for immigrants fleeing persecution, poverty, and oppression, while struggling to live a new and productive life. Yet to many visitors and students today these synagogues are shrouded in mystery, as documentary information on them tends to be dispersed and difficult to find.



6 .) This Was Harlem written by Jervis Anderson

	This Was Harlem

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History



5 .) Triangle: The Fire That Changed America written by David von Drehle

	Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

“Sure to become the definitive account of the fire. . . . Triangle is social history at its best, a magnificent portrayal not only of the catastrophe but also of the time and the turbulent city in which it took place.” —The New York Times Book Review Triangle is a poignantly detailed account of the 1911 disaster that horrified the country and changed the course of twentieth-century politics and labor relations. On March 25, 1911, as workers were getting ready to leave for the day, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York’s Greenwich Village. Within minutes it spread to consume the building’s upper three stories. Firemen who arrived at the scene were unable to rescue those trapped inside: their ladders simply weren’t tall enough. People on the street watched in horror as desperate workers jumped to their deaths. The final toll was 146 people—123 of them women. It was the worst disaster in New York City history. Triangle is a vibrant and immensely moving account that Bob Woodward calls, “A riveting history written with flare and precision.”



4 .) Walking Queens: 30 Tours for Discovering the Diverse Communities, Historic Places, and Natural Treasures of New York City’s Largest Borough written by Adrienne Onofri

	Walking Queens: 30 Tours for Discovering the Diverse Communities, Historic Places, and Natural Treasures of New York City’s Largest Borough

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

Home to more than 2.3 million people who speak at least 150 different languages, Queens is heralded as the most multicultural place on Earth. People go there to watch Major League Baseball or the U.S. Open. Perhaps they venture just across the river from New York City to check out a trendy new restaurant, bar, or performance space in Long Island City or Astoria, or ride the train all the way out to the beach on a summer’s day.



3 .) Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 written by Edwin G. Burrows

	Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground 2
  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

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 corne 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.



2 .) The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York written by Robert Caro

	The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Goodreads
  • Riffle
  • Upper west Side History

One of the most acclaimed books of our time, winner of both the Pulitzer and the Francis Parkman prizes, The Power Broker tells the hidden story behind the shaping (and mis-shaping) of twentieth-century New York (city and state) and makes public what few have known: that Robert Moses was, for almost half a century, the single most powerful man of our time in New York, the shaper not only of the city’s politics but of its physical structure and the problems of urban decline that plague us today. In revealing how Moses did it–how he developed his public authorities into a political machine that was virtually a fourth branch of government, one that could bring to their knees Governors and Mayors (from La Guardia to Lindsay) by mobilizing banks, contractors, labor unions, insurance firms, even the press and the Church, into an irresistible economic force–Robert Caro reveals how power works in all the cities of the United States. Moses built an empire and lived like an emperor. He personally conceived and completed public works costing 27 billion dollars–the greatest builder America (and probably the world) has ever known. Without ever having been elected to office, he dominated the men who were–even his most bitter enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, could not control him–until he finally encountered, in Nelson Rockefeller, the only man whose power (and ruthlessness in wielding it) equalled his own.



1 .) Up in the Old Hotel written by Joseph Mitchell

	Up in the Old Hotel

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground 2
  • Bustle
  • Goodreads
  • Riffle

Saloon-keepers and street preachers, gypsies and steel-walking Mohawks, a bearded lady and a 93-year-old “seafoodetarian” who believes his specialized diet will keep him alive for another two decades. These are among the people that Joseph Mitchell immortalized in his reportage for The New Yorker and in four books—McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon, Old Mr. Flood, The Bottom of the Harbor, and Joe Gould’s Secret—that are still renowned for their precise, respectful observation, their graveyard humor, and their offhand perfection of style.These masterpieces (along with several previously uncollected stories) are available in one volume, which presents an indelible collective portrait of an unsuspected New York and its odder citizens—as depicted by one of the great writers of this or any other time.




The 75+ Additional Best Books About The History Of New York



#BooksAuthorsLists
41102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin TowersJim DwyerGoodreads
42Alexander HamiltonRon ChernowRiffle
43All-Night Party: The Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem, 1913-1930Andrea BarnetGoodreads
44American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City 
Brick Underground 2
45Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied HospitalDavid M. OshinskyGoodreads
46
Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn of the Century New York
 
Brick Underground 2
47City of Ambition: FDR, LaGuardia, and the Making of Modern New YorkMason B. WilliamsGoodreads
48City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New YorkTyler AnbinderGoodreads
49
City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex 1790-1920
 
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50City of Sedition: The History of New York City during the Civil WarJohn StrausbaughGoodreads
51City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 
Brick Underground 2
52City on Two Rivers 
Brick Underground 2
53Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and Its TunnelsJill JonnesGoodreads
54Conquering Gotham: Building Penn Station and Its TunnelsJill JonnesRiffle
55Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New YorkStacy HornGoodreads
56Empire City: New York through the Centuries 
Brick Underground 2
57Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American FortuneBill DedmanGoodreads
58From Abyssinian to Zion 
Brick Underground 2
59Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940George ChaunceyRiffle
60Gone to New York: Adventures in the CityIan FrazierBustle
61Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New YorkTed SteinbergGoodreads
62Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller CenterDaniel OkrentRiffle
63Greater Gotham 
Brick Underground 2
64Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black AmericaJonathan GillGoodreads
65Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto : Negro New York, 1890-1930Gilbert OsofskyRiffle
66Helluva Town: The Story of New York City During World War IIRichard GoldsteinGoodreads
67Here is New York 
Brick Underground 2
68How the Other Half LivesJacob A. RiisGoodreads
69Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York CityMichelle NeviusGoodreads
70Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean up Sin-loving New YorkRichard ZacksGoodreads
71Just KidsPatti SmithBustle
72Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village MemoirAnatole BroyardBustle
73Knickerbocker’s History of New YorkWashington IrvingGoodreads
74Lost New YorkNathan SilverGoodreads
75Malcolm X: A Life of ReinventionManning MarableRiffle
76Manhattan, When I was Young 
Brick Underground 2
77Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York CityEric W. SandersonRiffle
78Mapping Manhattan: A Love (And Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New YorkersBecky CooperBustle
79Metropolitan LifeFran LebowitzBustle
80New YorkEdward RutherfurdGoodreads
81New YorkRic BurnsGoodreads
82New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age 
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83New York at its Core 
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84New York: A Guide to the Metropolis 
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85NYPD: A City and Its PoliceJames LardnerGoodreads
86Open City 
Brick Underground 2
87
Power and Society: Greater New York at the Turn of the Century
 
Brick Underground 2
88Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted InhabitantsRobert SullivanGoodreads
89Satan’s Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York’s Trial of the CenturyMike DashGoodreads
90Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York CityJulia WertzGoodreads
91The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane JacobsRoberta Brandes GratzGoodreads
92The Big Oyster: History on the Half ShellMark KurlanskyGoodreads
93The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American HistoryStephan TaltyGoodreads
94The Bowery: The Strange History of New York’s Oldest StreetStephen Paul DevilloGoodreads
95The Boy Detective: A New York ChildhoodRoger RosenblattBustle
96The Brazen Age: New York City and the American Empire: Politics, Art, and BohemiaDavid ReidGoodreads
97The Colossus of New YorkColson WhiteheadGoodreads
98The Devil’s Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth CenturyHarold SchechterGoodreads
99The Dutch-Munsee Encounter in America: The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Hudson ValleyPaul OttoNY History
100The Empire State NY History
101The Encyclopedia of New York City 
Brick Underground 2
102The Epic of New York City: A Narrative HistoryEdward Robb EllisRiffle
103The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius VanderbiltT.J. StilesRiffle
104The Five Points: The History of New York City’s Most Notorious NeighborhoodCharles River EditorsGoodreads
105The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City That Arose with ItAlice Sparberg AlexiouGoodreads
106The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011 
Brick Underground 2
107The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward BeecherDebby ApplegateRiffle
108The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New YorkPatricia Cline CohenGoodreads
109The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid WarsPaul CollinsGoodreads
110The New York Chronology 
Brick Underground 2
111The Rise of Theodore RooseveltEdmund MorrisRiffle
112The Row House Reborn: Architecture and Neighborhoods in New York City 1908-1929 
Brick Underground 2
113The Saratoga Reader: Writing About an American VillageField HorneNY History
114The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the EdgeT.J. EnglishGoodreads
115The Tiger: The Rise And Fall Of Tammany HallOliver E. AllenRiffle
116The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, a History of Greenwich VillageJohn StrausbaughBustle
117The Waterworks 
Brick Underground 2
118Twilight at the World of Tomorrow : Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of WarJames MauroGoodreads
119Waterfront: A Walk Around ManhattanPhillip LopateBustle


7 Best NY History Book Sources/Lists



SourceArticle
Brick Underground The 25 best books about the history of New York City’s boroughs
Brick Underground 2 The 25 best books about New York City history
Bustle 11 Best Nonfiction Books About New York City
Goodreads Popular New York History Books
NY History New York State Books, New York History Net
Riffle The Essential 25 New York City History Books For Your Book Shelf
Upper west Side History The 25 best books about the history of New York City’s boroughs and neighborhoods

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