cover image New York, Empire City: 1920-1945

New York, Empire City: 1920-1945

David Stravitz. ABRAMS, $35 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5011-5

The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Plaza have all received their share of photographic homage. This collection of images covers these sites, as well as less famous (but just as impressive) buildings and views, and offers fresh perspectives on them all. While some of the duotone photos, taken by people working for the photographic team of Alfred Peyser and August Patzig in the first half of the 20th century, appeared in magazines of the time, many remained obscure, and the negatives for 500 of them ended up forgotten in a New Jersey studio until photographer and image collector Stravitz discovered them in the 1970s. One hundred images are reproduced here and, as Gray writes in his introduction, ""they capture detail like gold dust."" The pictures show a proud, prosperous New York in all its heyday glory--depicting the majestic interior of the Rainbow Lounge, the Panhellenic Tower, the Woolworth Building and the Park Avenue Hotel--and it's fascinating to see how many of these structures have changed and/or been entirely replaced. Gray provides captions for a number of the images; collected as endnotes, they go beyond basic facts and offer both history and some architectural criticism. Lovers of New York and of photography alike will be moved by this gorgeous, nostalgia-inducing collection.