cover image The Intimate City: Walking New York

The Intimate City: Walking New York

Michael Kimmelman. Penguin Press, $30 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-29841-1

New York City comes alive in this scintillating collection of conversations between New York Times architecture critic Kimmelman (The Accidental Masterpiece) and architects, historians, artists, and others as they go on walking tours of 19 neighborhoods. The author and his interlocutors stroll through the bustling immigrant communities of Jackson Heights, Queens; visit the Stonewall Bar and other gay landmarks in Greenwich Village; imagine the ancient forests and streams of the pre-European “ecological wonderland” that was once the Bronx; coo over Broadway theaters; crane their necks at Midtown skyscrapers; and peer down at the brickwork of an Upper East Side street. Illustrated with vibrant color photos, Kimmelman’s loose-jointed text and dialogues oscillate between beguiling lore—Sands Street “used to be a dense, vibrant, diverse street teeming with sailors... packed with stores, barber shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, gambling dens, tattoo parlors, and brothels”—and piquant evocations of the New Yorkish soul (“I would join my father to check in on his surgical patients at his hospital on 14th Street before he and I meandered slowly back through the Village streets, Dad musing on his days traveling with the Freedom Riders, dreams for a communist future, and whether the Times was run by the CIA”). The result is an enchanting and lyrical montage of an ever-evolving city. (Nov.)