The first volume in a two-volume history of New York City, this 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning work begins with the earliest Indian tribes and ends with the consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York in 1898.
Burrows and Wallace have collected a mountain of monographic and antiquarian writing, and they have synthesized it in a way that is likely to engage and inform professional and general readers alike ... Gotham does not offer a "strong" narrative; it relies upon subtitles as the ligiture of synthesis ... The virtue of Gotham is very much in the details. It visits New Yorkers in their homes and neighborhoods, their streets and workplaces, and their institutions of culture, entertainment, and politics ... There is not enough attention to intrusions from beyond the city, nor to the extensions of the city's life (economic, political, and cultural) beyond itself.
The authors have synthesized histories from various perspectives--cultural, economic, political, etc.--into a novelistic narrative, providing the context for stories of the diverse denizens who shaped the city ... Burrows and Wallace have produced a historical work that merits the term 'definitive' yet still manages to entertain. Underneath reasoned academic prose lies a populist bent, unflinching in relating ugly events and describing the unsavory behavior of prominent figures ... Vague documentation may, on occasion, frustrate the academic reader, but such quibbles should be left to professional historians.
Linking economic, cultural, demographic, and political history, the authors trace the city's development from a peripheral Dutch frontier post through its growth into a vital shipping point in the British mercantile system ... Magisterial, colorful, meticulously researched, and richly detailed; destined to be the definitive history of early New York City.