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Seeking New York


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Every visitor to New York should have a copy of Tom Miller’s delightful new book in their hand luggage.

It is a gem – beautifully illustrated, painstakingly researched, and absolutely fascinating in its depth of detail.


Seeking New York, by Tom Miller, Murdoch Books, $29.99

Miller is not a native New Yorker; he moved there in 1979 and admits to being in love with the city’s magnificent architecture.

In 2009, he began writing a daily blog – Daytonian in Manhattan – about the buildings of his adopted city, going beyond their architectural features to uncover their social histories.  This research has now come together in Seeking New York – The stories behind the historic architecture of Manhattan.

There are stories of heartbreak and tragedy, fame and fortune, restoration and destruction in the potted histories of these wonderful buildings. Characters revealed through the tales range from a couple who used their Chelsea home to hide fugitive slaves, to the writers (including Dorothy Parker, Talullah Bankhead and Irving Berlin) of the Algonquin Round Table which met at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919.

Algonquin Hotel

New York’s Algonquin Hotel. Photo: John Wisniewski/flickr

One of my favourite sections is not really a building at all – Miller describes the history behind the Carousel in Central Park and some of the park’s magnificent statuary.

I lived in New York briefly and wish I had this book as I went on my urban explorations.

It is filled with lovely photographs and line drawings, many by the author himself; he has also collected many beautiful old photographs that show the streets and facades as they were in years gone by.

Wander down the avenues of Manhattan, in person or from your armchair, and let Seeking New York whisper the secret stories behind the streetscape.

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