Retro New York – the way we were

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       January 6, 2016


Author  Alan Whiticker

ISBN:                 9781742577135
Publisher:         New Holland Publishers
Release Date:   June 2015  


New York, New York. It is a place that has been sung about, been notorious, produced some of the best stage shows, is and has been a leader in the Fashion industry that is one of the main stables of industry behind the iconic City along with the NY Stock Exchange. Along the way it has created the image that in New York, everything is bigger, louder and better.

Everything is colossal which goes for the people, the food and the buildings. It has more than earned its place in the world market as one of the greatest cities in the world – the vibe is second to none and when you are there, on the streets, you know you are there!

In conjunction with the Mary Evans Picture Library, Whiticker has selected 400 incredible images, many of them rare, to compile a look at New York as it was during the times when many of the tales, legends and folkloric were created.

Divided up into five specific sections you are introduced with a slice of the history that created the City, followed by a look at the iconic images such as the newly completed Brooklyn Bridge in 1908, along with the workers who built the Empire State Building, which at the time was the world’s tallest building.

New York at War is a subdued look at the hundreds and hundreds of men who left the State to fight in World War II. A misty look at the ceremonial unveiling of the monument to the men lost when the USS Maine was lost in an explosion in 1898 is haunting and symbolic of the cost of war.

Law and Order portrays a colourful if desperate time in New York in a city that has seen it all. From the organised crime syndicates, race riots, general strikes, drug epidemics and the underworld that was a part of the scene for many, many years. There is a wonderful image of a New York Police officer, 1903, as he calls in at the telephone pillar.

Art and Entertainment sees a photo of a young Frank Sinatra and first wife Nancy at the Stork Club when he was still a soloist with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey Big Bands. The amazing Barbara Streisand is there in her role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton also graces the pages.

And so it goes on presenting  a window  into an era long gone but one that should be treasured for the iconic images which are so representative of a time and place that helped create the magic that is New York today. The time frame ranges from the late 1870’s to about 1970 and encapsulates amongst many other things the growth of not just New York, but also the world, as it slowly became more and more cosmopolitan.