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Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919

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In this utterly immersive volume, Mike Wallace captures the swings of prosperity and downturn, from the 1898 skyscraper-driven boom to the Bankers' Panic of 1907, the labor upheaval, and violent repression during and after the First World War. Here is New York on a whole new scale, moving from national to global prominence -- an urban dynamo driven by restless ambition, bo In this utterly immersive volume, Mike Wallace captures the swings of prosperity and downturn, from the 1898 skyscraper-driven boom to the Bankers' Panic of 1907, the labor upheaval, and violent repression during and after the First World War. Here is New York on a whole new scale, moving from national to global prominence -- an urban dynamo driven by restless ambition, boundless energy, immigrant dreams, and Wall Street greed. Within the first two decades of the twentieth century, a newly consolidated New York grew exponentially. The city exploded into the air, with skyscrapers jostling for prominence, and dove deep into the bedrock where massive underground networks of subways, water pipes, and electrical conduits sprawled beneath the city to serve a surging population of New Yorkers from all walks of life. New York was transformed in these two decades as the world's second-largest city and now its financial capital, thriving and sustained by the city's seemingly unlimited potential. Wallace's new book matches its predecessor in pure page-turning appeal and takes America's greatest city to new heights.


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In this utterly immersive volume, Mike Wallace captures the swings of prosperity and downturn, from the 1898 skyscraper-driven boom to the Bankers' Panic of 1907, the labor upheaval, and violent repression during and after the First World War. Here is New York on a whole new scale, moving from national to global prominence -- an urban dynamo driven by restless ambition, bo In this utterly immersive volume, Mike Wallace captures the swings of prosperity and downturn, from the 1898 skyscraper-driven boom to the Bankers' Panic of 1907, the labor upheaval, and violent repression during and after the First World War. Here is New York on a whole new scale, moving from national to global prominence -- an urban dynamo driven by restless ambition, boundless energy, immigrant dreams, and Wall Street greed. Within the first two decades of the twentieth century, a newly consolidated New York grew exponentially. The city exploded into the air, with skyscrapers jostling for prominence, and dove deep into the bedrock where massive underground networks of subways, water pipes, and electrical conduits sprawled beneath the city to serve a surging population of New Yorkers from all walks of life. New York was transformed in these two decades as the world's second-largest city and now its financial capital, thriving and sustained by the city's seemingly unlimited potential. Wallace's new book matches its predecessor in pure page-turning appeal and takes America's greatest city to new heights.

30 review for Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919

  1. 4 out of 5

    Loring Wirbel

    When an author can spend close to 30 years writing Volume 2 of a planned Oxford series on New York City, and ends up with a 1000-page monster covering a mere 20 years of the city's history, a five-star ranking is a fairly sure bet for any reader that does not get too exhausted. But there are two interesting things to note about Greater Gotham: First, it makes perfect sense that its predecessor covered the 1600s to 1890, while the second volume takes us only up to 1920, because during those years When an author can spend close to 30 years writing Volume 2 of a planned Oxford series on New York City, and ends up with a 1000-page monster covering a mere 20 years of the city's history, a five-star ranking is a fairly sure bet for any reader that does not get too exhausted. But there are two interesting things to note about Greater Gotham: First, it makes perfect sense that its predecessor covered the 1600s to 1890, while the second volume takes us only up to 1920, because during those years, New York City became the financial and cultural capital of the world, and set the pace for subways, skyscrapers, and rich bastards chugging prime rib at Delmonico's. Second, the book is a natural sequel to another 1000-page historical work from Oxford, Richard White's The Republic for Which It Stands, a volume in the history of the United States series, analyzing the Gilded Age that ended with McKinley's assassination. Many of the same players populate the books by White and Wallace, which is not surprising since much of the action in White's work takes place in New York. Both authors share similar cultural assumptions regarding the inherent racism of Anglo-Saxon culture in north and south, and both authors are highly critical of what became known as the Progressive movement - but only because most of the early progressives were actually quite conservative. Where the authors differ is in Wallace's careful attention to detail regarding financial manipulation. White breezes over early financial movers and shakers like Jay Gould, while Wallace covers Morgan, Vanderbilt, et. al, to exhaustion. In fact, Wallace covers everything to exhaustion. If Greater Gotham has a limitation, it lies in the excruciating detail Wallace applies to everything in his purview, which often comes down to laundry lists of people, places, and addresses. This would be a major limitation if Wallace wasn't such a good writer. As it stands, readers can gloss over the parts that are too fine-grained to appreciate. The book is structured in an interesting way. It opens with the unification of the five boroughs of New York into one city in 1897. It then offers an opening and a closing chapter on foreign policy - early ones covering U.S. repression in The Philippines, in which New Yorkers like Elihu Root and Teddy Roosevelt played a starring role; and a closing chapter on NYC's response to World War I, and how the 1919 Palmer raids were preceded by a full two years of repression fully supported by Woodrow Wilson. In between, we get chapters that talk about the financial infrastructure of the city, then the physical infrastructure of subways and buildings. Wallace takes us through broad-based cultures of academia, show biz, immigrants, and blacks migrating from the south, and then moves in latter chapters to discussing individual radicals, literati, feminists, queers, and other outliers that gave New York its unique character. While it's interesting to watch the building of the subways or the race to claim highest skyscraper, the latter chapters dealing with individual people are the most interesting in the book. Wallace and White share the belief that the early progressives exemplified by Teddy Roosevelt and the muckrakers had an undeserved reputation for being radical. In reality, both authors say, such "progressives" allied with the anti-alcohol prohibitionists, were full believers in social Darwinism and eugenics, bought into the "white man's burden" colonialist project, and consequently had little interest in ending lynchings in the South, or making lives better for arriving African-Americans in the city (or Italians or Jews, for that matter). Wallace says that it was only the arrival of Emma Goldman and the Greenwich Village crazies around 1910 that created a culture that could really be called progressive. This resonates strongly with my view that one should never trust a person who says, "I understand where they're coming from, but they go too far." The only person preparing for the future is the one daring to push the envelope the furthest. So-called progressives made themselves worthless by buying into existing structure of privilege. Wallace does not mince words in denouncing Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson for just these reasons. When he talks about how African-Americans were screwed over in every borough in which they tried to settle, until the establishment of the Harlem enclave post-1915, he reveals another interesting factor about New York: the city has the least amount of single-family dwellings of any metropolitan area in the U.S., for a very deliberate reason: real-estate managers got used to the money they could make from tenement buildings. As Queens and The Bronx got subway service and could be converted from farmland, they switched immediately to dense apartment buildings, because that's how landlords could make money. Even the single-family mansions on the Upper West Side of Manhattan devoted to the ultra-rich were eventually replaced by ritzy apartments. Some urban planners would say that the lack of single-family homes makes New York the smartest city in America in terms of land use; others would say that the exploitation was built right in. Wallace provides interesting insights into Broadway in its early years, and particularly how Black culture had a dedicated place on Broadway 190o-191o, before being shut down by the Anglo and Jewish theatre owners. Wallace talks about how dance halls and the rise of the Grizzly Bear and Fox Trot dances gave single women their first chance to act as emancipated beings. He also shows how small publishers and literary activists turned the Village into a special radical place. Readers of Kevin Birmingham's The Most Dangerous Book, about the effort by the Comstock vice squad and the U.S. Postal Service to censor James Joyce's Ulysses, might be surprised to learn (or maybe not) how regularly the repression was employed to silence the literary outliers in the Village. Naive readers also might be surprised to learn how often the NYPD used naked violence and repression to shut down labor and feminist organizing in the city. It was a regular routine for New York cops to go into a public meeting with billy clubs and simply beat up everyone in the place, even if the meeting was legally sanctioned. And this is the way the book ends, as World War I is declared and the U.S. debates when and whether to enter. The "preparedness" crew was all comprised of upper-class nobles, Wallace says, and they were ready to enforce new draft laws with extreme violence. Wallace said the war caused all the "Bull Moose" style of progressives to take off the masks and gloves, and reveal themselves as the racist, misogynist, colonialists they really were. The book ends with the Palmer raids and the crushing of New York radicalism, as we prepare for the flapper age to come. At this rate, it may take Wallace three or more 1000-page volumes to take us up to the present. Here's hoping he has assistants waiting in the wings to take over on his behalf, because the two volumes in this series have been exceptional to date.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Myles

    On cold winter afternoons when I was a child, we’d pile out of school at recess and run to the mounds of snow that grew next to the skating rink built in our school yard. We’d head for the top of the snow and push anyone behind us to the bottom. We’d throw snowballs, we’d shout and heckle those weaker souls who would aspire to the top. “I’m the king of the castle,” we’d sing, “and you’re the dirty rascal.” Over and over and over we’d sing until the school bell rang and sullenly we’d troop back i On cold winter afternoons when I was a child, we’d pile out of school at recess and run to the mounds of snow that grew next to the skating rink built in our school yard. We’d head for the top of the snow and push anyone behind us to the bottom. We’d throw snowballs, we’d shout and heckle those weaker souls who would aspire to the top. “I’m the king of the castle,” we’d sing, “and you’re the dirty rascal.” Over and over and over we’d sing until the school bell rang and sullenly we’d troop back into the classrooms. I don’t know who invented that ditty, but it has stuck with me for more than a half century. “I’m the king of the castle and you’re dirty rascal.” I was reminded of it as I quaffed the remaining pages of Mike Wallace’s second instalment to his great history of New York, “Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919.” It isn’t really just a history of a city in those years. Think of a fat man in a very small suit bursting at the buttons in the front, rolls of fat peeking out along the belt line, his jowls drooping over the shirt collar. No. Many of Wallace’s tales begin in the years leading up to the period, focus on places far from New York, and encompass the sometimes well-meaning actions of actors far from the stage. The book is like a holy compression of personalities, of waves of migrants, and causes, and more acronyms than I care to remember. His unifying theme is the consolidation of the boroughs which opens the story and the consolidation of business. Perhaps that is the easiest way into the story, how capitalists through merger and buyout and stock-watering gathered up the competition into massive trusts toward the end of the 19th and into the early 20th centuries and New York was the grand stage. Beginning with the railroads, and continuing with the oil interests, the steel interests, the sugar interests, and so many more. How they hated competition. It was such a drag on profits. It happened with the expansion of public transit, the modernization of the docks, and it happened with labour, the awakening of women’s rights, and the plight of black New Yorkers who founded a citadel in Haarlem. The brewers united. The elites built racetracks and spurred the gambling habits of a generation of migrants and the unemployable. And then there was the coopting of opium, heroin, and cocaine into the nascent drug industry. So many of these drugs were used in patent medicines, then made acceptable with the professionalization of medicine, and public hospitals. And with each wave of immigrants came new groups to hate and despise and grouse about. The Irish, the East European Jews, and the waves of Italians, Italians who dug the water tunnels, the subways, the passenger train and freight train tunnels that criss-crossed underneath the growing skyscrapers. And at the bottom of the heap, the blacks who moved in from the south and later from the Caribbean. How contemporary the howls against the dirty and dangerous immigrants this book sound today. The only difference being that when the Italians came to town there were massive public works to build, little automation in the factories, and booming consumer demand. If those same immigrants arrived today they would be blasted for taking away the jobs of honest Americans. “I’m the king of the castle...” etc., etc., etc. Blacks returning from fighting WWI were spat on and even lynched on burning crosses. They were kept out of polite company and given only the worst jobs. You think it’s dangerous for a black man on the streets of America today?. Ask Marcus Garvey, or W.E.B. Du Bois what it was like in 1898. There is a malignancy in American society that did not begin with Donald Trump, the Tea Party, or Ronald Reagan. The tendency to demean the accomplishments of collective action like modernizing housing regulations, or chlorinating the water, or inoculating children against infectious diseases. Or giving women the vote, or limiting the work day, or devising a progressive tax code, or outlawing child labour, or providing for unemployment insurance. It is a malignancy built into human nature that says we will never fully trust each other or completely share what we have built together. And it is not necessarily an American thing. It is a human thing that says, as Teddy Roosevelt believed, that you must shed your individuality to become one of us and even if you do, I am still the king of the castle. Become American and you will be worthy but never assume that you deserve it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Ok, wowzers this was long. It was as long as the first one while covering a much shorter time frame. There were times when it definitely felt like overkill as a reader. I don't need to know the name of every single person who had anything to do with every single topic... but at the same time, it is an invaluable resource if you do want to know all of that and certainly leaves you feeling like you know New York of the time inside and out! Ok, wowzers this was long. It was as long as the first one while covering a much shorter time frame. There were times when it definitely felt like overkill as a reader. I don't need to know the name of every single person who had anything to do with every single topic... but at the same time, it is an invaluable resource if you do want to know all of that and certainly leaves you feeling like you know New York of the time inside and out!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    In 1999, the first book of a projected three-volume history of New York City was published, Entitled Gotham, it covered the history of the city from is beginnings as a Dutch colony to the 1898 consolidation that merged the city with east Bronx, Brooklyn, western Queens County, and Staten Island, and won its authors, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for their labors. It has taken eighteen years for the second volume to be published, yet the result is well worth tha In 1999, the first book of a projected three-volume history of New York City was published, Entitled Gotham, it covered the history of the city from is beginnings as a Dutch colony to the 1898 consolidation that merged the city with east Bronx, Brooklyn, western Queens County, and Staten Island, and won its authors, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for their labors. It has taken eighteen years for the second volume to be published, yet the result is well worth that wait. Picking up where the last volume left off, Wallace (who is now soldiering forward solo in his efforts) describes the development of the city in all its particulars, covering its many economic, social, political, and cultural aspects. Though diverse in its scope, much of it is united by a common thread of consolidation, which in many respects was only just beginning. Consolidation was a popular concept of the age, with economic combinations emerging in American industry that dwarfed what had come before. Much of this was possible thanks to the financing provided by Wall Street, which served as the beating heart of the new, ever-more nationalized economy. Consolidation was also important at the local level, as the city’s leaders now sought to turn the political achievement into a practical reality. To that end, they created a common infrastructure that tied it more closely together, which they did in a vast construction boom that created many of the institutions and arteries upon which the city relies today. Their efforts were emulated by others, as groups from Broadway to the criminal underworld embraced the benefits of combination. Yet not everyone was accommodated in the process, and Wallace’s book chronicles the many disputes that characterized an often painful growth of Gotham into the global metropolis it became by the end of the First World War. Comprehensive and engaging, Wallace’s book is a worthy follow-up to its award-winning predecessor. Though its size is daunting, the division of the material into subject chapters makes it easily digestible, while Wallace’s ability to use the stories of individual New Yorkers to tell the larger history of the city makes it enjoyable reading. In Wallace the city has found a worthy chronicler, and with the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, and another world war looming, it is to be hoped that readers will not have as long to wait for the next volume.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jarrod Haynes

    Brilliant book. Extremely comprehensive history of New York City with many detailed stories of the people who contributed to the construction and development of the city during this period.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Nunez

    If few reviews do a book justice, in Wallace’s Greater Gotham’s case that is harder than in most. Having been blown away by the first volume, I worried that the absence of co-author Burrows would detract from the quality of the second. This worry was unjustified, Greater Gotham is as fascinating and exhaustive as plain Gotham. As a denizen of the third world I have often wondered , half facetiously, why is it that aliens always invade and supervillains always attack New York City. During the peri If few reviews do a book justice, in Wallace’s Greater Gotham’s case that is harder than in most. Having been blown away by the first volume, I worried that the absence of co-author Burrows would detract from the quality of the second. This worry was unjustified, Greater Gotham is as fascinating and exhaustive as plain Gotham. As a denizen of the third world I have often wondered , half facetiously, why is it that aliens always invade and supervillains always attack New York City. During the period of this book, at least in the Americas, there was no other place for them to go. NYC was the center of it all. It had the richest capitalists (Morgans, Rockefellers, Schiffs, Schwabs), the brightest inventors (Edison, Tesla, but not Westinghouse), the founders of the labor movement, as well as those of female suffrage, socialism and black rights (notably W.E. DuBois and Marcus Garvey, although Booker T Washington generally stayed down in Tuskegee, Alabama). The pioneers of cinema, vaudeville and popular music (ragtime!). The creators of advertising. Large manufacturing (including textiles, petrochemicals and pharmacy) was still in NYC and it a New Jersey vicinity. Bohemianism came to the New World via NYC. So finance was synonymous with Wall Street. Popular entertainment with Broadway and Tinpan Alley. Advertising with Madison Avenue. Black culture with Harlem. Counterculture with Greenwich Village. NYC in this period became coterminous with much of the American experience. And what an experience this was. In this period when Manhattan was integrated with the rest of the boroughs, most notably Brooklyn, modernity cake knocking at the door: planes, cars, telephones, music and sound recorders, elevated trains and subways. Skyscrapers. Elevators. Electricity. Amusement parks were born in Coney Island’s Luna Park. Great institutional changes were also about, particularly the creation of the Fed and of income tax. It was the high point of progressivism, particularly during WWI. It was a time of consciousness raising: women, blacks, but also Jews and others became conscious of their situation and began to fight for their rights. It was the Belle Époque. A middle class professional man could afford a multi-story brownstone with servants and vacations in Europe, but most of the population lives in squalid tenements, on the fringes of starvation. It was a period of great busts and booms. Of working class strife and of capitalist consolidation. Of the birth of professional sports and stadiums (notably baseball). Of department stores (Macy’s, Bloogmindales, the sadly defunct Lord and Taylor. Many of the key players of the next thirty years were already on the stage in NYC: Fiorello LaGuardia was a translator in Ellis Island. Harry Hopkins and Frances Perkins were social workers and FDR escorted his cousin Eleanor when she came off work in a settlement house. Leon Trotsky lived in the Bronx, where he was notorious for his refusal to tip in restaurants, on ideological grounds (yeah, right...). Both Maxim Gorky and Sigmund Freud visited, although the former’s visit was not a success because he came with his common law wife, which local bluenoses did not appreciate. John Reed, Paul Robeson and J Edgar Hoover where in town as well as George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, George Cohan and a very young Fred Austerlitz, later known as Fred Astaire. Robert Moses. Walter Lippmann. Margaret Sanger. Margaret Mead. Busby Berkeley and his follies. Charlie Chaplin. Al Jolson. Felix Frankfurter and Louis Brandeis. The Barrymores. Vaudeville and burlesque. Both racist darwinians like Madison Grant (the passing of the great race) and founders of social sciences such as the Columbia sociologist Frank Boas where writing virtually at the same time, in the same city. Social science was born as eugenics raised its ugly head. WWI had many consequences on the life of New Yorkers, not the least is which is that vast troop movements enabled the first global pandemic: the influenza epidemic that killed many more people than the war itself. The whole book is like one of those 13 course banquets at Delmonico’s attended by toffs and gangsters (mostly Jewish, Irish and Italians). Or a very rich and big cake where one may pluck a plum virtually anywhere. NYC is also at the center of political power, from William McKinley to Theodore Roosevelt to Elihu Root. The city was always a magnet for writers: in the nineteenth century it boasted as residents Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman. Now there were Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton and Upton Sinclair (although he did better in LA and Chicago than in NYC). Al Smith was there too, with a big cigar hanging on the side of his mouth. Long and short of it, I loved this book. As it ends the twentieth century really picks off. Wartime cooperation between labor and capital give way to a revived laissez faire capitalism. American imperialism takes wing (the book begins with the Spanish-American war and ends with the Paris Peace Conference, going by the Panama secession, organized and paid in Wall Street). Women get the vote and many use it to bring forth prohibition. The Bolshevik Revolution activates many hopes and fears in the new world. The KKK revives and crosses are burnt on Long Island. The Red Scare has passed, laying the ground for redbaiters and witch hunters thirty odd years later. The Harlem Renaissance is about to bloom. The mantle of greatness is passing from London and Paris to NYC, the new capital of the world. I am really looking forward to the next volume. The author says it will cover the 20s, 30s and mid 40s (possibly until the end of WWII). I can’t wait to read it. Fiorello La Guardia. Babe Ruth. Duke Ellington. Josephine Baker. Stan Lee (Stan friggin’ Lee!). Mr Wallace must live into his nineties so he can bring his story of the Big Apple into the 1960s, with the Rat Pack, Mia Farrow, the world of Mad Men, the Silver Age of Comics, Jackie Kennedy and café society. And I must be around to read it. The only other book I am similarly waiting on is Robert A Caro’s book on the presidency of Lyndon B Johnson. Wallace is a titan, like Caro, or Gibbons, or Macaulay, or like Michelet and Braudel. A jewel of a book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Well researched but dense account of life in NYC at the turn of the century. Was very Manhattan focused (with little to nothing on Staten Island or the Bronx) and at times read more of a history of the US and how it played out in NYC.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ted Hunt

    Whew, I feel like I just finished running a marathon (the New York City Marathon, perhaps?). I haven't felt this way at the end of a book since I read......hmm, I guess it was Michael Wallace's first volume on the history of NYC, "Gotham." At least the first volume's 1236 pages covered the entire history of the city to 1898; this volume is 1052 pages long and covers exactly 21 years! I give the book three stars to recognize the author's impressive work in research, organizing and writing this st Whew, I feel like I just finished running a marathon (the New York City Marathon, perhaps?). I haven't felt this way at the end of a book since I read......hmm, I guess it was Michael Wallace's first volume on the history of NYC, "Gotham." At least the first volume's 1236 pages covered the entire history of the city to 1898; this volume is 1052 pages long and covers exactly 21 years! I give the book three stars to recognize the author's impressive work in research, organizing and writing this study. But this book is not for the casual reader, even the casual reader of history. At times I felt that I was reading an encyclopedia, it was so dense with names and events. The author's view of the city is that its history lies at the center of American history, and a case can be made for that thesis. But a book that dives into every facet of American history that has even the most tangential connection to NYC is one that can become tedious. To be sure, there are many valuable parts to this book: the description of the expansion of the subway system, the transformation of Harlem, the city's arts and culture, to name just a few. But there are others where the author felt the need to describe an entire topic simply because it may have had a superficial relation to the city: the different streams of Progressivism, the history of American gay culture, the Versailles Peace Conference. And the author, in his efforts to present the "complete" story, includes list after list of whatever it is he is writing about. Did he need to list every ethnic group in a particular neighborhood? Every prominent member of a particular organization? I got into the habit of just skipping over the lists; why bother, as the inclusion of all of the names added little to the insights conveyed. In any event, he closed the book by outlining his next volume, which will cover 30 years of NYC history. And perhaps if a decade passes before its publication, I may forget the pain of getting through this book and giver it a try.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Mike Wallace picks up where his previous Pulitzer prize wining book Gotham leaves off and takes the reader from 1899-1919 in a modest 1100 page volume that covers the expansion of New York City. This book looks at the city as it expands to Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem and the Bronx as well as continues the march uptown town with the Nuevo Riche like Rockefeller and Carnegie building palatial mansions along what would become central Park. The book also follows the rise of Broadway and the start of th Mike Wallace picks up where his previous Pulitzer prize wining book Gotham leaves off and takes the reader from 1899-1919 in a modest 1100 page volume that covers the expansion of New York City. This book looks at the city as it expands to Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem and the Bronx as well as continues the march uptown town with the Nuevo Riche like Rockefeller and Carnegie building palatial mansions along what would become central Park. The book also follows the rise of Broadway and the start of the carnival like atmosphere of times square. In this time frame you start to see the NYC we know today truly forming. Like the first book this is also an excellent social history of what is happening to the country, particularly during this time where New York is truly a driver in a lot of the action happening across the country. The influx of immigrants particularly from Italy and Ireland was covered as well as the growing cultural identity of Judaism and African Americans in NYC. This book focuses quite a bit on the fall of Tammany as the progressives take root and the role of Teddy Roosevelt in NYC. In short is it exactly the masterpiece you would expect to see following Gotham. If you are into the history of New York City then this is the best and an absolute must but if you are not into the topic don’t even bother picking it up (you will also need some weight training to do so!). Can’t wait for volume three which is going to cover the 20’s to the end of World War II.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919 by Mike Wallace is a huge volume covering the history of New York from the consolidation of New York, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island into "greater New York", to just after WW I. Comprehensive yet still readable, this book contains just about anything that you could ever want to know about New York during the first decades of the 20th century. Tammany Hall and government and police corruption? Covered. Wall Street, trusts Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919 by Mike Wallace is a huge volume covering the history of New York from the consolidation of New York, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island into "greater New York", to just after WW I. Comprehensive yet still readable, this book contains just about anything that you could ever want to know about New York during the first decades of the 20th century. Tammany Hall and government and police corruption? Covered. Wall Street, trusts and Muckrakers? Got it. Skyscrapers, trains and the subway? It's in there. Industry, labor, entertainment (Broadway, Tin Pan Alley, movies, Coney Island), Ash can art, "Progressives" and reform movements, radicals and socialists, women's suffrage, civil rights, and WWI all get extensive coverage. This is the second volume of the history of New York, and I did not read the first volume. This volume doesn't assume that the reader has read the first one and doesn't make reference to it, so you won't be lost if you start with this one. Full disclosure: I received a free uncorrected proof in a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Casey Wheeler

    I received a free Kindle copy of Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898-1919 by Mike Wallace courtesy of Net Galley and Oxford University Press, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages. I requested this book as I am a native New Yorker (upstate) and have read snippets about the history of New Y I received a free Kindle copy of Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898-1919 by Mike Wallace courtesy of Net Galley and Oxford University Press, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages. I requested this book as I am a native New Yorker (upstate) and have read snippets about the history of New York City through other books that have touched on the subject (fiction and nonfiction). This is the first book by Mike Wallace that I have read. This is a well written, well researched and exhaustive history of New York City covering the time period 1898 to 1919. Early on in the book the author details how the five boroughs combined to form the City. He also spends a great deal of time on lists of people, places and exact locations. I found myself skimming over these for the meatier parts of the book. While I found the book to be very enjoyable, the sheer size of it may prove daunting to others, although it makes a very good reference book for the time period covered.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As books are described as doorstops, this one must be included! Having said that, it covers two decades of history i 1,052 pages. It is also oversize and includes a generous number of illustrations and maps. It has a lot of detail, perhaps more than the "normal" person needs to read. However, I enjoyed reading the specifics of this era in which much of the New York that we know now was formed. 1898 was the year in which consolidated New York was created--that is the five boroughs as a single cit As books are described as doorstops, this one must be included! Having said that, it covers two decades of history i 1,052 pages. It is also oversize and includes a generous number of illustrations and maps. It has a lot of detail, perhaps more than the "normal" person needs to read. However, I enjoyed reading the specifics of this era in which much of the New York that we know now was formed. 1898 was the year in which consolidated New York was created--that is the five boroughs as a single city. This gave city planners an opportunity to plan that larger city. Housing, transportation, labor, rights, ethnic tension--all of these played out (as they do every year) in a way that laid the foundation for what we have now--good or bad. There is much discussion of politics and corruption--again, as we have now. And the history culminates in WW I and its aftermath. Wallace is a clear writer. If you have a few months to read a book, perhaps you'll add this one.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Tremblay

    Much like the first volume, this is a book every bit as big and expansive as New York City itself. Over 1,000-plus pages, it offers as complete a history of an incredible twenty year span of New York City’s life as is possible on a single volume. If you’re curious about the development of just about anything in the city during the first twenty years of the twentieth century, odds are it’s covered in here: finance, government, infrastructure, labor relations, the cultural and ethnic composition of Much like the first volume, this is a book every bit as big and expansive as New York City itself. Over 1,000-plus pages, it offers as complete a history of an incredible twenty year span of New York City’s life as is possible on a single volume. If you’re curious about the development of just about anything in the city during the first twenty years of the twentieth century, odds are it’s covered in here: finance, government, infrastructure, labor relations, the cultural and ethnic composition of the city (and those groups’ relationships with each other and the dominant group), arts and culture and so, so much more. Given that twenty years elapsed between the publication of the first volume and this one, I’m not holding my breath for the third volume. But I most definitely am looking forward to reading it whenever it’s published.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Pellagatti

    A Historical Powerhouse Like its 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning predecessor "GOTHAM: A History of New York to 1898" — "GREATER GOTHAM: A History of New York from 1898 to 1919" does not fail in its ambition in terms of delivering a multifaceted historical narrative of New York during the early 20th century. This is not a quick read — this is LONG read — as it relates to New York's radical, conservative, infrastructural, cultural, homogenous, and heterogenous development; while city emerges as a worl A Historical Powerhouse Like its 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning predecessor "GOTHAM: A History of New York to 1898" — "GREATER GOTHAM: A History of New York from 1898 to 1919" does not fail in its ambition in terms of delivering a multifaceted historical narrative of New York during the early 20th century. This is not a quick read — this is LONG read — as it relates to New York's radical, conservative, infrastructural, cultural, homogenous, and heterogenous development; while city emerges as a world capital in the midst of a global upheaval where western society transitions from imperialism to neoliberalism.  What an excellent read, Dr. Wallace! I can't wait for GOTHAM: A History of New York from 1920 to 1950!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Sieg

    Epic and immersive and sweeping and detailed and constantly, persistently compelling. I loved this book. Even if you aren’t a New Yorker or haven’t lived in or visited Gotham, this is a wonderful highly readable epic of one of the great cities of the world coming into its own. I recommend of course reading Gotham first, but it’s not necessary. This 1,100 page exploration of New York from 1898 to 1919 covers the high level, sweeping, broad themes and trends and global role of New York, but also d Epic and immersive and sweeping and detailed and constantly, persistently compelling. I loved this book. Even if you aren’t a New Yorker or haven’t lived in or visited Gotham, this is a wonderful highly readable epic of one of the great cities of the world coming into its own. I recommend of course reading Gotham first, but it’s not necessary. This 1,100 page exploration of New York from 1898 to 1919 covers the high level, sweeping, broad themes and trends and global role of New York, but also delights in exploring the neighborhoods and communities and life of who New York was at the turn of the century. One of my favorite history books I’ve read, and unquestionably the best I read in 2018. A magnificent journey, and I can’t wait until volume 3.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Miller

    The second volume in the author's comprehensive and authoritative history of New York City. Since much of what happened in New York in this period had national ramifications or also occurred in other industrial belt cities (albeit on a smaller scale), this work will be of value to anyone interested in U.S. history in general. Be forewarned: this is indeed a "massive tome" and you will want an ebook version if you intend to read it while traveling or commuting. The author informs us that a third The second volume in the author's comprehensive and authoritative history of New York City. Since much of what happened in New York in this period had national ramifications or also occurred in other industrial belt cities (albeit on a smaller scale), this work will be of value to anyone interested in U.S. history in general. Be forewarned: this is indeed a "massive tome" and you will want an ebook version if you intend to read it while traveling or commuting. The author informs us that a third volume covering 1920 through the 1940s is in the works.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brent Soderstrum

    I won this book through GoodReads First Read program. This is a well researched comprehensive easy to read history of the biggest and most significant city in the United States from 1898 to 1919. My step-son recently moved to New York City without knowing a soul. He also loves history so I gave him this book along with Wallace's first book for Christmas. I have no doubt he will love to learn more about his adoptive city. I won this book through GoodReads First Read program. This is a well researched comprehensive easy to read history of the biggest and most significant city in the United States from 1898 to 1919. My step-son recently moved to New York City without knowing a soul. He also loves history so I gave him this book along with Wallace's first book for Christmas. I have no doubt he will love to learn more about his adoptive city.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jimi

    I won this book in a giveaway. Big book, tiny print. So much information packed into this book! I want to re-read it just because there is so much to absorb but I promised my sister and a friend that they could read it when I was finished. Photographs and drawings from the time period add to the allure of this volume. It's not just cold, dry facts, there are fascinating tidbits of gossip about the movers and shakers of the city too. I won this book in a giveaway. Big book, tiny print. So much information packed into this book! I want to re-read it just because there is so much to absorb but I promised my sister and a friend that they could read it when I was finished. Photographs and drawings from the time period add to the allure of this volume. It's not just cold, dry facts, there are fascinating tidbits of gossip about the movers and shakers of the city too.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kent Hayden

    I love a good history but unfortunately they're rare. This one drips with excess of dates and events and the expectation that you'll remember cross-references to other parts of the book. It's laid out in subject sections such as culture, race, war, business. Many of the characters are in many places. Many events influenced other sections and it's not always clear why or how. A fascinating time but the complexity in present its story shows too much here. I love a good history but unfortunately they're rare. This one drips with excess of dates and events and the expectation that you'll remember cross-references to other parts of the book. It's laid out in subject sections such as culture, race, war, business. Many of the characters are in many places. Many events influenced other sections and it's not always clear why or how. A fascinating time but the complexity in present its story shows too much here.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Exapno Mapcase

    This is a Goodreads First Reads review. Picking up where the last book left off with the consolidation of the counties to create the City of Greater New York, Wallace details, and I do mean that literally, a twenty year saga in the Big Apple. There is an unbelievable amount of information that can be crammed into some 900 pages, all the while maintaining an easily readable book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robert Sparrenberger

    1,052 pages and I’m done. This volume only covers three decades but sheesh there was a lot going on in nyc during those years. A lot of it is still happening one hundred years later. Some of the topics discussed were really interesting and others not so much for me personally. If you have an interest in the history of New York City, then this series is the spot to read about it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Grindy Stone

    This book sets its theme of consolidation and conglomeration early and runs with it, demonstrating that the consolidation of Greater Gotham into five boroughs paralleled the turn-of-the-century corporate trend toward amalmagation. If this volume occasionally seems like a list than a narrative, the lists are always placed in the proper context. Very well done.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Day

    While the preceding book Gotham was worthy of its Pulitzer Prize award, this book paled in comparison. This book was entirely too long and could have been effectively communicated in half the length. That said, I look forward to reading volume 3, but hope the history is better communicated.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    A tour de force narrative of New York City from 1898 to 1919. Wallace tells the story of how New York City grew to become not only the economic, financial, cultural, social capital of the United States, but of the world.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zac Macinnes

    A truly exceptional work that immerses the reader in the critical period between 1898 and 1920 when New York became the cultural, commercial and financial capital of the world. A great quarantine read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Yves

    This excerpt of the book jacket best encapsulates my reading experience: “ utterly immersive, endlessly illuminating, beautifully written” Indeed a masterpiece to treasure! A Puli unquestionably well deserved!.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Had to tap out on this. Professor Wallace's research and writing are on the same high level as the first Gotham, but I found the condensed timeframes here, 20 years as opposed to nearly 300, made the book too granular and slowly robbed it of my interest. Had to tap out on this. Professor Wallace's research and writing are on the same high level as the first Gotham, but I found the condensed timeframes here, 20 years as opposed to nearly 300, made the book too granular and slowly robbed it of my interest.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kyer Bustamante-Quon

    Amazing how much NYC history was out there! Great book with great pictures!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dan Moulton

    Much better then the first book, tho still too long.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Terence Clarke

    A fine book to accompany the first volume, titled GOTHAM. Must-reads, both.

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