Well-documented account of Washington Square and its vicissitudes, useful for park planners, Greenwich Village buffs, and,...



A detailed history of Washington Square Park, the heart of Greenwich Village, that reflects its growth and change from farmland to the elite enclave described by Henry James and Edith Wharton to the present dominance of New York University.

Washington Square Park is not the largest or even the most beautiful of Manhattan's parks, but its neighbors and users have fought long, exhausting, expensive battles with developers and city government to preserve what they believe is its unique neighborhood quality. Kies, a lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, begins in the 18th century, when farms in the area gave way to summer homes. To the dismay of the homeowners, the area destined to be Washington Square was commandeered as a burial ground for yellow-fever victims. In the early 19th century, in an effort to attract well-off taxpayers, the burial ground was landscaped and dubbed the “Washington Military Parade Ground. ” The maneuver paid off. The famous row of Greek Revival houses was built on the north side of the square in midcentury, the fountain was installed in 1852, and the Stanford White–designed arch was dedicated in 1895. New York's rich and poor shared the square, with the well-off on the north, poor immigrant communities in housing to the south, and artists, writers, and political activists in between. This disparate community successfully fought off the city's frequent attempted incursions on the park, including planning czar Robert Moses's decades-long efforts to modify the square. In the 1970s, drugs and crime threatened to overwhelm the area, as did NYU's determined expansion. Today both NYU and crime seem to be under control, and the park is widely used by all its neighbors. Numerous black and white drawings, maps, and photographs help track the changes.

Well-documented account of Washington Square and its vicissitudes, useful for park planners, Greenwich Village buffs, and, particularly, students of the politics of municipal planning.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8018-7088-7

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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