We were thrilled when one of our regional books, Walking Harlem: The Ultimate Guide to the Cultural Capital of Black America by Karen Taborn, appeared in the August 12, 2018 issue of the New York Times. For Day 3 of UP Week, we hope you enjoy this roundup of NYC walking tours as much as we did!
Taking Walks on the Wild Side by Sam Roberts
For readers who can’t precisely remember the 1960s (for whatever reason), there’s “Rock and Roll: Explorer Guide to New York City” by Mike Katz and Crispin Kott (Globe Pequot). It is one of several new guidebooks published in plenty of time for New Yorkers and tourists to grab for summer walking tours.
From the nightclub Max’s Kansas City to the Mudd Club, the Brooklyn Paramount Theater to Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush, Brooklyn (the alma mater of Marky Ramone), the authors conduct an annotated, illustrated tour, categorized by artist and geography, to create what they call “a fun travel guide through music history.”
The explanatory and informative text, coupled with evocative photographs, combine to produce what Legs McNeil, a founder of Punk magazine, describes as a “rock & roll time machine” in his foreword to the book.
Literary and musical landmarks, historical sites, celebrities’ homes, venues for film shoots and television shows, and other similar haunts can be found in “Pop Culture New York City: The Ultimate Location Finder”(Applause Theatre & Cinema Books) by Bob Egan. The book is also bursting with maps by the author’s brother, Jim Egan.
Pop culture is broadly defined to include used record stores, bocce courts, Poets House, and the familiar facade in Glendale, Queens, depicted during the opening sequence of Norman Lear’s breakthrough TV show, “All in the Family.”
“Walking Harlem: The Ultimate Guide to the Cultural Capital of Black America” (Rutgers University Press) by Karen F. Taborn, an ethnomusicologist who has taught about the neighborhood’s history at the New School, offers five walking tours and an accessible grounding in the Harlem Renaissance that places the characters and locales in context.
In a cityscape that mutates as much as Manhattan’s, we sometimes don’t notice the hulking elements until they’re missing. We often overlook altogether the more opaque architectural quirks.
John Tauranac, an architectural historian who teaches at New York University’s School of Professional Studies, rises to the challenge with “Manhattan’s Little Secrets: Uncovering Mysteries in Brick and Mortar, Glass and Stone” (Globe Pequot).
Mr. Tauranac’s revelatory narrative is accompanied by Kathryn Gerhardt’s illuminating photographs.
As the author of a book about the Empire State Building and as a map designer, Mr. Tauranac is typically more consumed by the concrete than the abstract.
He acknowledges, though, that the city is also organic, morphing so rapidly that some of its little secrets that he had decided to single out were obliterated before he had finished the book (others, he writes, could not be photographed because they were shrouded in the ubiquitous scaffolding that defines New York as a work in progress).
Why, among the global seafaring figures atop the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, across from Battery Park in Manhattan, is there one representing Belgium (whose coast is only about 40 miles long and was not known predominantly as a maritime nation)? Which building in the city features a frieze of Karl Marx?
Can you identify that former tourist attraction depicted in a subway tile mosaic at the Christopher Street station? Which pediment on the building that housed a late 19th century puckish humor magazine celebrates “Wit and Humor”? Which statue stood on the now-empty plinth atop the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court building in Madison Square? Whatever happened to the clock where Holden Caulfield met his date at the Biltmore Hotel?
No spoilers here. You’ll have to read “Manhattan’s Little Secrets” or uncover them yourself.
A version of this article appears in print on Aug. 12, 2018, on Page MB3 of the New York edition with the headline: Taking Walks on the Wild Side. Read the original article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/nyregion/new-york-city-books-walking-tours-guides.html