New York is a town of more quartiers and arondissements than Paris, more souks and bazaars than Ciro, a place of havens from overwhelming energy and of studios where that energy is generated. Above all else it is where everyone wants to make a mark. And for a lot of New Yorkers the biggest mark of all is the place they live in – no matter where that is in the infinite diversity of the astonishing tumbling ziggurat that is New York, spilling across its parks and rivers and neighbourhoods. The grand, spacious apartments that line Fifth Avenue across from Central Park on the East Side have an entirely different feel from those opposite, on Central Park West, pinned in its middle by the legendary Dakota building. From the great mansions of Frick and Harkness in Manhattan to the buildings on the flanks of Morningside, from the hipster apartments of Williamsburg and Dumbo to the delightful Victorian houses on Park Slope, every concept of living from gracious to frenetic is to be found in the fabulous five boroughs.
This book looks at a cross-section of these great spaces for living created by New Yorkers. It’s about the art of architecture and the art of living in this seething city; it’s about the ambition and zest of New Yorkers for their surroundings and it’s about the stories connected to them – from the Morris-Jumel House, the oldest house in the borough of Manhattan and once George Washington's headquarters to the chutzpah of Julian Schnael perching a copy of a Venetian palazzo atop a Lower East Side building and the ingenious and beautiful ways of living an eco-existence in Brooklyn, this is visual and literary feast of great houses and apartments of New York past and present.
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Polly Devlin is a writer and broadcaster with a particular interest in houses and their decoration. Her first book, All of Us There, is now a Virago Modern Classic. She holds an OBE for services to literature. She currently teaches Creative Non-Fiction at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York.
Her most recent book is A Year in the Life of an English Meadow (Frances Lincoln, 2007).
Annie Schlecter is a native New Yorker who has been working as a photographer since 1998. Her clients include New York Magazine, T-Magazine, House Beautiful, Travel + Leisure, The World of Interiors, Neue Galerie, Marianna Kennedy and Joe Serrins Studio among others. She has worked on numerous book projects with clients such as Jonathan Adler, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple and The Little Bookroom, for whom she has photographed and designed a series of Italian cookbooks. She enjoys eating, travel and polka dots.