New York City. A Short History / essay

New York City.  A Short History

by George J. Lankevich  (pgs. 230-234 and pgs. 256-257)


The first section of the reading, Chapter 11 “Contemporary New York” detailed New York City in the 1980’s.  The accounts about the economic, financial and social issues facing New Yorkers under the governance of Mayor Edward Koch, appeared to be pretty well-organized and thorough.  The author was knowledgeable in his detailing of the events and the climate during this period.  He accurately connected what was going on in Washington, DC under Ronald Reagan and how that budgetary decisions made and the financial crisis during that period negatively impacted New Yorkers.  While reading the book, I was reminded of a similar historical account on New York City, titled, “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898” by Edwin G. Burrows, which was considerably more in-depth and overall much more interesting.  What I did find most interesting in this book was that the author chose to break up the history of New York into different sections, all of which mirrored the time periods of elected officials such as the governor and the mayors who were in office at the time of the account.  The author tended to lay blame on the elected officials for the problems of the period, without giving much regard to the fact that the problems and deficits were usually inherited.

Although the accounts of both mayors (Koch and Bloomberg) included factual information as it relates to dates, decisions and data, the author lacked an interesting writing style.  It is my opinion that the author did not draw the reader (specifically this reader) into the story. Instead, the author came across as being flat and one-dimensional.  Another flaw was that the author did not focus enough attention to the economic hardships faced by the underclass (or 99%) of the population of New Yorkers in the city under both the Koch and Bloomberg Administrations.  I also believed that the author did dedicate as much real estate in the text to those individuals who were consistently being marginalized.  Another flaw that I experienced with the text is that there are so many interesting facets of what makes New York a great city, that the author did not focus enough attention on.  Some of these items include the Arts, Culture, Cuisine and Social Life.  All of these aspects contributed to making New York the epi-center of the world.  Lastly, I believe that although the author appeared to be intelligent in regurgitating the factual information, I felt as if he did not convey an opinion or perspective on any of the events that transpired over the years, nor was he drawn to or bothered by any of the historical figures that appeared on the pages of the book.  I was hoping for something inspirational and/or motivational to jump off the pages but unfortunately that never happened instead I was bored and uncommitted.


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