As perhaps never before in its extraordinary history, New York has captured the American imagination. This major anthology brings together not only the best literary writing about New York?from O. Henry, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Paul Auster, and James Baldwin, among many others?but also the most revealing essays by politicians, philosophers, city planners, social critics, visitors, immigrants, journalists, and historians.
The anthology begins with an account of Henry Hudson’s voyage in 1609 and ends with an essay written especially for this book by John P. Avlon, former Mayor Rudolph Guiliani’s speechwriter, called “The Resilient City,” on the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center as observed from City Hall. The editors have chosen some familiar favorites, such as Washington Irving’s A History of New York and Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” as well as lesser-known literary and historical gems, such as Frederick Law Olmsted’s plan for Central Park and Cynthia Ozick’s “The Synthetic Sublime”?an updated answer to E. B. White’s classic essay Here Is New York, which is also included. The variety and originality of the selections in Empire City offer a captivating account of New York’s growth, and reveal often forgotten aspects of its political, literary, and social history.