A handy guide to some of New York’s hidden gems of public space that will delight tourists and natives alike.



Tiny oases of greenery in the concrete jungle are celebrated in this sprightly guidebook, the first of a planned series.

Recalling her salad days as an actress searching for that most precious of New York commodities—a place where you can sit down without paying—novelist O’Brien (First Saturday, 2012, etc.) offers this compendium of 56 “privately owned public spaces” and city parks in Manhattan, from Midtown on south. It doesn’t take much to make a park in those environs: Take a vacant lot or a recess bordering a sidewalk, add a few planters with shrubs, some chairs and furniture—you’ve got Gotham’s answer to Yellowstone. Some of these are little more than places to rest one’s feet during a shopping binge after grabbing a bite from a sidewalk vendor, but many manage to conjure a sheltering, distinctive space from cramped dimensions. O’Brien seeks out those that feature verdant foliage and clever landscaping, sculpture and artworks that add visual interest, dramatic views of the cityscape, a glimmer of a reflecting pool or a waterfall to mask the roar of city noise. Some will surprise even longtime New Yorkers: Abingdon Square, a twisty lane shaded by tall trees in Greenwich Village, designed by Calvert Vaux with his usual romanticism; Eighth Avenue’s One Worldwide Plaza, a broad yet intimate expanse centered on a fountain, recalling an Old World piazza; Christies’ Garden, an assemblage of ivy-covered walls, cafe tables and art from the auction house’s collection, with an air of Parisian urbanity; 60 Wall St., an enclosed atrium (why can’t a park be indoors?) that, with its palm trees, Oriental decor and food stalls, makes for an enchanting caravanserai; Park Avenue’s minute Ascot Plaza, sporting New York’s best historical inscription—“On this site in 1897, nothing happened.” O’Brien’s brief, breezy text is filled with snippets of intriguing lore, crucial info on restroom access and eating opportunities, and clear directions (alas, no maps). Vivid color photos by Mario Burger, Nicholas Alfonso and others add still more enticement.

A handy guide to some of New York’s hidden gems of public space that will delight tourists and natives alike.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-615-92103-7

Page Count: 126

Publisher: Pocket Parks Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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