MANHATTAN '45 by Jan Morris


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A valentine to New York City, all hearts and lace, from a European who has visited often and culled information from various sources--including her imagination. Morris would like us to read her work ""not as hard truth exactly, but as an exercise in affectionate and light-hearted imagination. . ."" To Morris, postwar New York was ""as truly romantic a city as Venice itself."" It was a place where you could read the day's New York Times' headlines on the paper's Motogram in Times Square, the smoke rings blew from file mouth of the gigantic Camel man on the billboard nearby, elevators still needed operators to take people up and down, Mayor La Guardia read the comics on the radio when the newspaper truck drivers went on strike, CBS's early TV studios were in Grand Central Terminal, you could ride the last of the trolley cars to work, subway rides cost a nickel, pretty young women were voted ""Miss Subways,"" and ""The Glass Menagerie"" bowed. Lovers of New York trivia will find a satisfying nugget or two: It was La Guardia's idea to rename Sixth Avenue the Avenue of the Americas--an idea New Yorkers have ignored to this day; the famous Russian Tea Room was actually founded by a Pole. There was, as today, a problem with drugs and political corruption but there was also a certain innocence. Graffiti on one wall read, ""Nuts to all the boys on 2nd Avenue--except 68th & 69th streets."" Although the writing tends toward the flowery, it will appeal to those who prefer sentimental travels through time.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0801859573
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press