Who knew that the Ku Klux Klan was once active in New York City? Or that that in 1917 Leon Trotsky spent three months in New York City – in the Bronx, no less, before returning home to Russia to foment the Bolshevik Revolution?
“Not only that,” exclaims Kenneth T. Jackson, editor in chief of the newly revised Encyclopedia of New York City, “the headline in the Bronxville News, which later became The New York Post read, ‘Bronx Boy Starts Revolution.”
From the quirky to the authoritative, from entries about A&P [Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company] and the American Booksellers Association to ones about Zabar’s great Upper Westside delicatessen and Louis Zukofsky, a Brooklyn-born poet and substitute school teacher, The Encyclopedia of New York City, reveals the city like no other single-volume book has done before. With more than 700 luminous photos, illustrations and maps, it is also a feast for the eye.
Jackson orchestrated the efforts of 800 contributors and 60 assistant editors to produce a book with roughly 5,000 entries. Jackson himself wrote a number of them. And he has read them all.
“This is a book of synthesis,” Jackson says. “But there are cases where there is original research. Nowhere else, for example, will you find a concise history of the railroads and how they came together in New York.”
Jackson says his favorite entries tend to be the ones that pull together information that’s not easily available: an entry on the songs about New York City and the one about television programs made in New York, for example. “I like the one on graffiti. I think the architecture entry is exceptional.”
To win a copy, read our interview with Jackson about the encyclopedia. Then come back and let us know which entry you think you’d most like to read—either one listed in this post or in the interview, or something that you think an encyclopedia of NYC just would not be complete without. We’ll pick a winner from the comments posted by 5 p.m. CST on Friday, December 3. Good luck!
ETA: Contest closed—congrats to commenter #21, Yvonne!