Anybody who cares about New York’s history and architecture as like as not has a well-thumbed copy of Nathan Silver’s Lost New York sitting on a bookshelf. My own copy is a 1974 Schocken reprint – and it was one of the first books about New York that I found on returning to the city from graduate school in 1976. Flipping through its pages still makes me shake my head in wonder at how many marvels we’ve lost. But in 1976, there was already a Landmarks law and a Landmarks Preservation Commission. Back in 1963, when Silver first conceived the book, neither existed.
As he explains in his preface, the book began as part of an exhibit planned at Columbia University’s architecture school, where he was teaching at the time: (more…)