In Downtown, Pete Hamill leads us on an unforgettable journey through the city he loves, from the island's southern tip to Times Square, combining a moving memoir of his days and nights in New York with a passionate history of its most enduring places and people.
New Yorkers love calamity," writes Hamill in this marvelous guide to the most expensive piece of real estate in the world. This is a look at the calamities and the successes that have struck downtown Manhattan since the time of the first explorers from the Old World. Hamill's Manhattan is filled with history, architecture and giant personalities. Readers will be thrust into the Civil War riots in Greenwich Village in 1863 and will rejoice in a Times Square filled with delirious New Yorkers on VJ Day in 1945. They will watch the city grow as the subway crawls northward and the big skyscrapers begin to pop up, from the Woolworth Building in 1913 to the World Trade Center in the 1970s. The city's rogues and heroes are portrayed in action from Aaron Burr and John Jacob Astor to Stanford White, Walter Winchell and a visiting Oscar Wilde. This is a companion piece to Forever, Hamill's novel of New York, and The Drinking Life, which explored the city through the alcohol-fueled eyes of the young Hamill. It is written with insight, humor and, most of all, a deep love of the Big Apple. Perhaps Hamill's mother, Anne Devlin, best put it into perspective: "You've seen it before," she told young Peter the first time he was transfixed by the spires of Gotham. "It's Oz."