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City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of…
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City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York (2017)

by Tyler Anbinder

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A defining American story of millions of immigrants, hundreds of languages, and one great city
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Sep 22, 2017 |
21 disks ( )
  mgriel | May 1, 2017 |
This book tells the story of how immigration has shaped, and is still shaping, New York City. On the one hand, it provides a highly detailed analysis of immigration over the past two centuries -- who came, where they came from, and how they lived. On the other, it provides an enlightening new view of the history of New York. It's also, with immigration as much of an issue as it is now, an important reminder that immigration has been an issue for centuries, and that the nativist response rises and then retreats, as one immigrant group after another becomes "native". The book is engagingly written, and avoids getting drowned in the mass of numbers on which it is based. It is also meticulously researched, but is not at all laborious to read. Indeed, "City of Dreams" is an engrossing story, and an enjoyable read. ( )
  annbury | Apr 18, 2017 |
History professor Anbinder, himself a native of New York, traces the waves of immigrants that have built NYC into the behemoth it is today. From Peter Minuit and his deal with the Native Americans to today, the author follows wave after wave of immigrants and how they shaped the city. From the Puritans and fur traders to huge waves of German and Irish immigrants to the Italians, eastern Europeans, Asians, former slaves, South and Central American, and West Indies, all the big movements of people are here. It’s a fascinating read; every wave of people came over hoping for more opportunity and a new life. Nearly all faced prejudice of the already ensconced people, horrible living conditions, and endless hard work. They bore this steadfastly, all in the hope that their children would have better lives than they had.

This is not your boring history book. Anbinder frequently uses personal accounts to bring vivid life to the past. While this is a massive book- nearly 600 pages with another 100 of end notes, bibliography, appendices, and index- it was as gripping as a well-written novel. Here’s the Irish fleeing the famine, arriving as stick figures. Here are the people trying to take advantage of new immigrants. There were some parts that were less interesting to me- the section on the Civil War, for instance, because I never find war interesting- even those I read every word of. That is a first for me; I tend to skip the bits about fighting.

Every wave of immigrants seemed to follow the same routine: take the first jobs they could get, always the things natives (and previous immigrants) had risen above. They work 7 days a week (except for the Jews, who mostly didn’t work on the Sabbath). They live in cramped quarters. As soon as they can save the money, they start a business of their own. They also send amazing amounts of money back to their home countries, whether it be to support parents or to bring over other family members. They become citizens as fast as possible most of the time, unless they are hoping to make enough money to have a business in their home country. They almost always dislike the next wave of immigrants, feeling that next wave has a criminal element to it. Humans have remained the same for the 400 year span of NYC; they are filled with prejudice.

Excellent book; should be required reading. It’ll enlighten a lot of folks who want to build a wall. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Oct 9, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 054410465X, Hardcover)

A defining American story, never before told with such breadth of scope, lavish research, and resounding spirit

With more than three million foreign-born residents today, New York has been America’s defining port of entry for nearly four centuries, a magnet for transplants from all over the globe. These migrants have brought their hundreds of languages and distinct cultures to the city, and from there to the entire country. More immigrants have come to New York than all other entry points combined. 
 
City of Dreams is peopled with memorable characters both beloved and unfamiliar, whose lives unfold in rich detail: the young man from the Caribbean who passed through New York on his way to becoming a Founding Father; the ten-year-old Angelo Siciliano, from Calabria, who transformed into Charles Atlas, bodybuilder; Dominican-born Oscar de la Renta, whose couture designs have dressed first ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Tyler Anbinder’s story is one of innovators and artists, revolutionaries and rioters, staggering deprivation and soaring triumphs, all playing out against the powerful backdrop of New York City, at once ever-changing and profoundly, permanently itself. City of Dreams provides a vivid sense of what New York looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and felt like over the centuries of its development and maturation into the city we know today.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 23 Aug 2016 03:10:40 -0400)

With more than three million foreign-born residents today, New York has been America's defining port of entry for nearly four centuries, a magnet for transplants from all over the globe. These migrants have brought their hundreds of languages and distinct cultures to the city, and from there to the entire country. More immigrants have come to New York than all other entry points combined. City of Dreams is peopled with memorable characters both beloved and unfamiliar, whose lives unfold in rich detail: the young man from the Caribbean who passed through New York on his way to becoming a Founding Father; the ten-year-old Angelo Siciliano, from Calabria, who transformed into Charles Atlas, bodybuilder; Dominican-born Oscar de la Renta, whose couture designs have dressed first ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Tyler Anbinder's story is one of innovators and artists, revolutionaries and rioters, staggering deprivation and soaring triumphs, all playing out against the powerful backdrop of New York City, at once ever-changing and profoundly, permanently itself. City of Dreams provides a vivid sense of what New York looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and felt like over the centuries of its development and maturation into the city we know today.… (more)

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