Adam Gopnik

Book Reviews, City Living

the drake, rafael vinoly, im pei, starchitecture, 432 park avenue, supertalls, nyc supertalls, nyc skyscrapers, new york sky scrapers

“Cities can’t win. When they do well, people resent them as citadels of inequality; when they do badly, they are cesspools of hopelessness.” This is the opening line to Adam Gopnik‘s New Yorker review of three forthcoming urban history books: Gerard Koeppel’s “City on a Grid: How New York Became New York,” which tells the history of the city’s famous 1811 street grid plan and explores how that forever shaped life in the city; Evan Friss’ “The Cycling City: Bicycles and Urban America in the 1890s,” which recounts the rise and fall of bicycle culture in the late 19th century; and David Maraniss’ “Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story.” These very specific topics lend themselves to larger themes about the current state of our city, and in exploring these, Gopnik came out with an incredible one liner:

The things that give cities a bad conscience are self-evident: seeing the rise of 432 Park Avenue, the tallest, ugliest, and among the most expensive private residences in the city’s history—the Oligarch’s Erection, as it should be known—as a catchment for the rich from which to look down on everyone else, it is hard not to feel that the civic virtues of commonality have been betrayed.

More thought-provoking themes from the review

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