New York: A Guide to the
Metropolis Walking Tours of
Architecture and History
by Gerard R. Wolfe (Id edition), McGraw-Hill, Inc., 559 pages, $19.95 soft cover. CODE: MGH-1
If there is a better guidebook to New York City with a historical bent, we haven’t seen it. Open this book to any part of Gerard Wolfe’s city—the Five Points or Corcoran’s Roost or the Stock Exchange—and you will find a locale’s significance explained thoroughly and with style. The expanded 1994 edition offers twenty walking tours—“the maximum if the book were still to be portable,” Wolfe explains. He proceeds in sweeps of the city: He knows what’s buried beneath Washington Square, which building on MacDougal Street housed a speakeasy as well as the early Reader’s Digest , which subway station had chandeliers, how the phrase Twenty-Three Skiddoo! derived from girl-watching near the Flatiron Building, and how before the Cyclone went up at Coney Island the best ride in the city was the Third Avenue El. Wolfe is also an experienced navigator to the outer boroughs. You can do far worse than a few hours spent on one of Wolfe’s lucid journeys through the city that was.