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Sutton Place. Uncommon Community by the River

by Christopher Gray

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Over the years I've given at least a dozen different architectural walking tours in New York, adding a new one every year or two. When researching the tours I like to find relevant books on a neighborhood's history in order to provide a decent historical context to the contemporary buildings I focus on. For a tour of 57th Street spanning its whole length, I was fortunate to find this book by the late, great Christopher Gray, which is about the small neighborhood overlooking the East River.

Across nine chapters Gray describes the history of the residential neighborhood's development, which managed to grow in its location due to its height on bluffs above the East River, an elevation that made it inhospitable for industrial uses. Over the decades the area was impacted greatly by two transportation conduits: Queensboro Bridge and FDR Drive. The latter, in particular, was accommodated through the difference between the streets and river, such that a series of plazas -- and even buildings -- bridge over the drive. Beyond these two elements, Gray manages to find many aspects of the small neighborhood that make it worthy of a compact history. ( )
  archidose | Nov 24, 2017 |
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