Fifth Avenue: From Washington Square to Marcus Garvey Park

Monacelli. Nov. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9781580936071. $35. ARCHITECTURE
Following in the footsteps of Ed Ruscha’s 1966 artist’s book Every Building on the Sunset Strip and Adrian Gaut’s 2017 Wilshire Blvd, this title from architectural historian Hennessey moves to the other coast, with a compact and admirably comprehensive architectural guide to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, a six-mile-long thoroughfare. In his brief introduction, the author of Walking Broadway explains Fifth Avenue’s residential and commercial success and reminds readers that this avenue demarcates, counterintuitively, the division of the house-numbering system between Manhattan’s East Side and West Side. Like many architectural guides, this work is organized geographically, and its six chapters fully meet the challenge of selecting entries of significance. When he finds a side street irresistible, the author elasticizes the single-avenue parameter east or west for a block, and the guide deftly differentiates those deviations by ordering them with letters. Expert page design results in clear display of building names, addresses, dates, and architects—linked numerically to full-page maps and color illustrations. The author observes notable details that many others would overlook and has a keen sense of which feature in each building to highlight.
VERDICT The precise, descriptive, and objective prose contrasts with the AIA Guide to New York City’s frequently arch comments. For all readers interested in New York’s built environment.
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