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9781421439228
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How New York Became American, 1890–1924, updated edition

Originally published in 2006. For many Americans at the turn of the twentieth century and into the 1920s, the city of New York conjured dark images of crime, poverty, and the desperation of crowded immigrants. In How New York Became American, 1890–1924, Art M. Blake explores how advertising professionals and savvy business leaders "reinvented" the city, creating a brand image of New York that capitalized on the trend toward pleasure travel. Blake examines the ways in which these early boosters built on the attention drawn to the city and its exotic populations to craft an image of New York City as America writ urban—a place where the arts flourished, diverse peoples lived together boisterously but peacefully, and where one could enjoy a visit.

Drawing on a wide range of textual and visual primary sources, Blake guides the reader through New York's many civic identities, from the first generation of New York skyscrapers and their role in "Americanizing" the city to the promotion of Midtown as the city's definitive public face. His study ranges from the late 1890s into the early twentieth century, when the United States suddenly emerged as an imperial power, and the nation's industry, commerce, and culture stood poised to challenge Europe's global dominance. New York, the nation's largest city, became the de facto capital of American culture. Social reformers and tourism boosters, keen to see America's cities rival those of France or Britain, jockeyed for financial and popular support.

Blake weaves a compelling story of a city's struggle for metropolitan and national status and its place in the national imagination.

About the Author

Art M. Blake is an associate professor in the Department of History at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Reviewss

"Looking at ways the city was 'branded' for consumption, [Blake] traces control of its public image, from the efforts of social reformers in the 1890s to those of boosters in the early 20th century. Blake's creative use of booster ephemera—guidebooks, postcards, etc.—as sources show how the city shifted its image from the ethnic poverty of the Lower East Side to tourist and business-friendly Midtown."

- Library Journal

"A testament to Blake's impressive writing and research skills, offering the reader a comprehensive study of an era in which the roots of New York City as we know it today were firmly planted."

- BookPleasures.com

"A welcome contribution to the growing literatures on tourism, boosterism, visual culture, and urban identity."

- Daniel Levinson Wilk - Business History Review

"Blake devotes special attention to the travel industry's role in shaping urban representations as part of the formation of national identity... This book contributes to our knowledge of the tourist industry, visual culture, and identity formation in New York City."

- Clifton Hood - Journal of American History

"Written for anyone interested in American cultural studies, the history of New York City, or the politics of image making."

- Hsiu-Tzu Betty Chang - Urban Affairs Review

"This work is a good look at the historical geography of New York at the turn of the twentieth century. Blake's description of the city's image changing over time is well suited for survey courses in U.S. history and urban studies, and serves as a good supplemental reading for courses in architecture, tourism, marketing, and identity formation."

- Mylynka Kilgore Cardona - Historical Geography
Johns Hopkins University Press
updated edition
2006
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Paperback / softback
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