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The New York Chronology    by James Trager order for
New York Chronology
by James Trager
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

As the title suggests, this is a chronological compendium of events, people, and anecdotes from the time of the Dutch to the present day. James Trager has done a commendable job of pulling together tidbits of information on all aspects of life, from politics to sports, human rights, social justice and crime, to literature, arts and education - to name but a few of the subject areas.

To flip through this book is addictive; one page opens up to reveal that the Brooklyn Bridge (great East River Bridge) opened to traffic on May 24, 1883, and this entry goes on to document those present at the inauguration ceremony; the first pedestrian user; who designed and financed the project; some of its specifications (such as the 1,595.5-foot span); and numerous other pieces of trivia related to the bridge. Another dip into the book reveals that in 1896 service between the Bronx and Manhattan was started by elevated railway; and Columbia College changed its name to Columbia University, having added graduate schools of law, mines, political science, architecture, library service, philosophy, pure science and nursing. These are just two, abbreviated, entries of the 17 for 1896, all them equally interesting.

Let's go to two more entries and I really did find these just by opening the book randomly. First in 1904, Coney Island's Dreamland amusement park opens to compete with Luna Park, opened last year by Fred Thompson and Elmer 'Skip' Dundy. This entry goes on to give details of the costs, the site and the attractions available, but tells us that one of the greatest successes is a realistic fire exhibition called 'Fighting the Flames'. Jumping ahead to 1962, an entry tells us that the New York Mets play their first exhibition game on March 10 at St. Petersburgh, Fla., and go on to play their first season at the Polo Grounds, replacing the New York Giants, who moved to California in 1958, and it goes on to document other facts relating to this event.

James Trager has done an amazing job of compilation; pulling together so much information from so many subject areas is a daunting task. Using the extensive index, the reader can look up specific events, or, like me, just dip into the texts to find fascinating facts. This is one book that can be picked up at any time to reveal new snippets of information; any New York-o-phile will find The New York Chronology a must-have for their home library.

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