Walking Broadway: Thirteen Miles of Architecture and History

Monacelli. Jun. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781580935357. pap. $25. ARCHITECTURE
Fourteen architectural walks take readers south to north, from Bowling Green to the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, along a 13-mile-long boulevard associated perhaps more with the theater industry and “The Great White Way” than with urban history. But with a discerning eye, a deep appreciation for the craft of architecture, and lucid prose, art historian and former director of the Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, VA) Hennessey, who visited and photographed each building, shows us that his topic is as theatrical as any stage performance. Each chapter begins with a brief history of the zone, and occasional diversions to side streets incorporate essential landmarks like Louis Sullivan’s Bayard-Condict Building on Bleecker Street. The author takes liberty with his favorites, highlighting often overlooked selections with a longer essay or a larger photograph. Two ingredients make this title as pleasurable in an easy chair as on foot: the author’s exceptional sense of how to capture the particular personality of a building in words and images and book designer Shawn Hazen’s skilled composition of typography, color, and image.
VERDICT For all architectural history students and urban designers, who might read Hilary Ballon’s complementary The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1911–2011 alongside the guidebook.
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