Monday, October 5, 2015

A Trip To New York:
By Way Of My Books

New York is the concentrate of art and commerce and sport and religion and entertainment and finance, bringing to a single compact arena the gladiator, the evangelist, the promoter, the actor, the trader and the merchant. It carries on its lapel the unexpungeable odor of the long past, so no matter where you sit in New York you feel the vibrations of great times and tall deeds, of queer people and event and undertakings.
                                                                         E. B. White
                                                                        Here Is New York.

Here is the British writer W. J. Turner's book about his trip to New York:

Turner's book, published in London in 1929, surprised me.  I did not expect the negative viewpoint he expressed in some portions of the book, particularly when he went downtown to Number 1 Broadway,  crossed the grass, and across the water he saw "... the stumpy ungraceful Statue of Liberty.... I felt like any immigrant who might  have just arrived in the Land  of the Free, and, like any immigrant, I felt sick at heart and wondered what madness had brought me into the midst of this sordid and squalid wilderness of iron.  For here the city was in its undress; the skyscrapers rose in their naked emptiness, Wall Street was not far off, but the fever of human voices which gives it its week-day glamour was gone.  Here there was no hope for the hungry immigrant, nothing but the stark reality, the bleak bare facts of steel and stone...(46,47)".

And here are words from Chiang Yee, a Chinese writer and a painter of flowers and birds, as he enters New York Harbor for a visit in the early 1960s:

  "The Queen Mary moved more slowly. I stepped down to find out what was going on below, but could see no band.  The commotion was bigger than ever.  Speech was impossible.  We were now in the bay.  Someone shouted: 'There's Liberty!  The Statue of Liberty!'  Everybody turned as if at a word of command.  I could see only a faint thin column suspended in the air, for the morning mist over the water was still very thick.  Beyond that column could be seen thicker ones joined together like dark clouds.  The brides ran from side to side of the ship.  I felt quite overcome.  How many human creatures have longed for liberty since the beginning of time.  Many shout at the sight of the Statue of Liberty, but liberty itself is elusive (17, 18)"

Here's a few books about the history of New York and New Yorkers:

The book below,  published in 1924, is part of a series of guide books on States; but the book is more about New York City than New York State.  And most of the books in my New York Collection are about New York City as well:


And here are more books about New York:

New York. . . .

I have over a hundred books about New York.  And only a few of them are collectible books.  The remainder are books my friends and I purchased at local thrift stores and at library sales.  But all of the books tell a story about New York.

Most of my books about New York are crammed into the top two bookshelves of the bookcase that stands between my table desk and my library closet.

And hanging above this bookcase is a map of Long Island, which is where I called "home" for the first nineteen years of my life:

Tacked to one of the sliding closet doors, and facing the far side of the bookcase, is a map of Manhattan:

And on the other side of the bookcase, and facing my table desk,  is a photo that brings back pleasant boyhood memories of growing up in New York:

Memories of New York. . . .  That is why I have these books in my library.  I haven't been back to Long Island in almost forty years.  And to New York City only once in the last twenty-five years.  And while I am taking you on a trip to New York by way of my books, I am reflecting just a little bit about the place I once called "home."

Cadwallader Colden's
History of the Five Indian Nations

In his  1924 "Guyed Book" on New York, Irvin S. Cobb mentioned that New York was  once the home of six nations.  Before the Tuscaroras joined it, the league of Iroquois Nations was known as the "Five Indian Nations."   Cadwallader Colden wrote a history of the Five Indian Nations, the first volume of which was published in 1727, and the second volume in 1747.   I have a 1904 reprint of the first volume covering the Indian affairs in  western New York and Canada.  I find it interesting to note that Colden spelled the names of these five indian nations as such: Mohawks, Oneydoes, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Sennekas.

My August 2015 blog post was about the ownership of this book. The book itself is about the French and Indian War. And on the front cover and the frontispiece of this book is a map engraved on a powder horn, circa 1759-1760, that was in the possession of the author of the book, Fred W. Lucas.

I include James Fennimore Cooper's book, The Last of the Mohicans:  A Narrative of 1757,  in my books about New York because its setting is western New York during the French and Indian War.  A side note here:  In his Preface, Cooper identifies the Five Indian Nations as the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Senecas, the Cayugas, and the Onondagas, with different spelling  for two of the tribes than Colden's spelling.

This particular edition, published by the World Book Club in 1913, was edited for school use by William Strunk Jr., the author of The Elements of Style, first published in Ithaca, New York in 1918; a book of which I have multiple copies of many of its later editions.

In his Introduction to Cooper's book, Strunk discusses James Fenimore Cooper's "style" of writing:
As to Cooper's faults of style, it is not hard to find examples of superlatives used when there are only two objects, of ambiguous statements, and of relative pronouns too far separated from their nouns, while now and then—just as the scout at time loses his trail—a participle fails to find its subject.  But for all the traces of imperfect revision that remain, The Last of the Mohicans may still be called a finely written work.  Numerous faultless passages attest Cooper's skill alike to construction and in detail. No one who reads the story will ever forget the noble, dignified and majestic eloquence of the last chapter (x).
Fellow Strunkians may be interested to know that 1913 was not the first year that William Strunk wrote about style.  The World Book Company bought the Globe School Book Company, lock, stock, and barrel in 1912.  And one of the books the World Book company reprinted—with a new title page—was the 1900 edition of The Last of the Mohicans, edited for school use by William Strunk Jr.  But 1900 is not the first year Strunk wrote about style either.  In 1895, Strunk wrote about the writing styles of Thomas Macauley and Thomas Carlyle in Macauley's and Carlyle's Essays on Samuel Johnson.  But I digress....

Getting back on the New York trail again, I present a picture of the cover of The New York Walk Book.  This book, first published in 1923 by the American Geographical Society, contains suggestions for excursions within a fifty to one hundred mile radius of the city:

When I first found this book in a local thrift store,  I opened it and read about an excursion from the White Plains Station:
Walk east from the station along the motor road to Underhill Ave, then turn on that road north to the lower end of St. Mary's Lake (Silver Lake); or take the trolley to the lake....

I have a sister-in-law who lives on Underhill Ave.  And on a somber note, I remember a man, now deceased, who on 9/11, walked most of the way from the vicinity of the World Trade Center to my sister-in-law's house on Underhill Ave..

Still on my bookbinding pile ever since I acquired it in June is the monumental work about New York City,  Leslie's History of the Greater New York by Daniel Van Pelt and published by Arkell Publishing Company in 1898.

One book I will not repair is a book from Daniel Van Pelt's own library:

Van Pelt's book was one of the books in my blog post, Two Hurt Books And their Former Owners.

I thought this book might have been a source book for his book on the history of New York City, but I found no references to it.

Rome wasn't built in a day.  And neither was New York City.

                                Here's a book on how Manhattan was built:

                         Here's a book about how the subways were built:

The third volume of Francis Jehl's Menlo Park Reminiscences of working with Thomas Edison contains Jehl's recollections about "The Lighting of New York City:"

And here's a book about how a skyscraper was built, followed by two more books about skyscrapers:

Here's a pamphlet, La Guardia Field, published by Airport Publishing Company in 1940.  I haven't seen this pamphlet  about LaGuardia Airport listed on WorldCat, the Library of Congress, or anywhere else.  And I know of only one listing of Fabulous Idlewild:  Aviation's Airport City by Eric Bramley, published by American Aviation Publications in 1959 (Samuel Read Hall Library, Lyndon State College, Vt).  I want to add a copy of that pamphlet to my collection, mainly because I grew up near Idlewild Airport.

                          Here are more pictures of books about New York:

               This cookbook contains a recipe for elephant stew:  feeds 500 people:

You can view all of my books about New York on Library Thing:

And you can read my blog, Idlewild Blue Yonder, about growing up near Idlewild Airport, the old neighborhood, my old house, and still more memories of New York: