NYC Book Old car photograph


The Best Books About NYC


Y’all know how much I love NYC!  But my enjoyment of Manhattan pales in comparison to the love my husband, Will, has for the Big Apple.  And when Will loves something, he wants to learn all he can on the subject.  Will has an enormous library of books about NYC, and I’ve asked him to share his favorite NYC Book with y’all!  I’ve added a few of my favorites as well!

Published in 2018 and updated in July 2023

(This post includes affiliate links to Amazon.  If you click on a link and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission.  Thank you!)


NYC Book old photograph of a worker on a skyscraper


NYC Book Pick #1:  The Power Broker by Robert Caro


The Power Broker is a fabulous Pulitzer Prize winning book examines Robert Moses’ quest to achieve and wield power, and how that desire changed the face of NYC. Will highlighted the documentary Citizen Jane in this post, who thwarted Moses’s plans for Washington Square Park.


NYC Book Pick #2:  Low Life by Luc Sante


Low Life is a great book about the opium dens, brothels, and saloons of late 19th and early 20th century NYC.  The gritty underbelly of old New York is a really interesting read!


NYC Book old photograph of the Star Theater


NYC Book Pick #3:  A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin

A Walker in The City is one man’s memoir of his childhood in early 20th century NYC, as he walked the unique neighborhoods of various parts of New York, later published in 1946.


NYC Book Pick #4:  Vanishing New York by Jeremiah Moss

Fran Leibowitz said it best: A city with only rich people is not interesting.  What is happening to NYC as the old gritty neighborhoods give way to a gentrified city, where only the wealthiest people can live there, and block after block is the same retailers, the same restaurants….what is lost maybe can never be recaptured.  Vanishing New York is a must-read!


NYC Book old 1970's subway


NYC Book Pick #5:  Just Kids by Patti Smith

A truly remarkable memoir as Patti recalls her relationship with Robert Maplethorpe in NYC in the 1970’s.  Max’s Kansas City and the Chelsea Hotel are just two of the long-gone NYC institutions revisited in Just Kids!  If you like audio books, I highly recommend this title, as it’s read by Patti Smith herself.


NYC Book Pick #6:  The First Tycoon:  The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles

For those of you interested in the Gilded Age, The First Tycoon tells the dramatic story of Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, the combative man and American icon who, through his genius and force of will, did more than perhaps any other individual to create modern capitalism.


NYC Book Pick #7:  America in the Gilded Age by Sean Dennis Cashman

In America in the Gilded Age, Sean Dennis Cashman traces the political and social saga of America as it passed through the momentous transformation of the Industrial Revolution and the settlement of the West. Revised and extended chapters focusing on immigration, labor, the great cities, and the American Renaissance.


NYC Book Pick #8:  The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto

In The Island at the Center of the World, Russell Shorto tells the story of New Netherland, the Dutch colony which pre-dated the Pilgrims and established ideals of tolerance and individual rights that shaped American history.


NYC Book Pick #9:  9th Street Women by Mary Gabriel

9th Street Women:  the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting — not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come.


NYC Book Pick #10:  Here is New York by E.B. White

Here is New York is perceptive, funny, and nostalgic, E.B. White’s stroll around Manhattan remains the quintessential love letter to the city, written by one of America’s foremost literary figures. The New York Times has named Here is New York one of the ten best books ever written about the metropolis, and The New Yorker calls it “the wittiest essay, and one of the most perceptive, ever done on the city.  And yes….this is the same author of Charlotte’s Web.


NYC Book Pick #11:  The Great Bridge by David McCullough

The Great Bridge is The dramatic and enthralling story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time, a tale of greed, corruption, and obstruction but also of optimism, heroism, and determination, told by master historian David McCullough.


NYC Book Pick #12:  Gotham:  A History of New York City  by Burrows and Wallace

In Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace have produced a monumental work of history, one that ranges from the Indian tribes that settled in and around the island of Manna-hata, to the consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York in 1898.


NYC Book Pick #13:  Triangle:  The Fire that Changed America  by David von Drehle

Triangle is a poignantly detailed account of the 1911 fire that broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York’s Greenwich Village, that horrified the country and changed the course of twentieth-century politics and labor relations.


NYC Book Pick #14:  97 Orchard:  An Edible History  by Jane Ziegelman

97 Orchard is a richly detailed investigation of the lives and culinary habits—shopping, cooking, and eating—of five families of various ethnicities living at the turn of the twentieth century in one tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. With 40 recipes included.



Will Evans was born in Houston, TX and spend his early childhood in Tyler, TX.  He moved to Dallas during his teens and served in the Marine Reserves following  high school.  Will spent more than twenty-five years in the Commercial Real Estate business, while following his passion for living history, folk art and militaria collecting, and travel.  

NYC Book Will Evans Portrait


If all these books makes you want to visit NYC in person, my NYC Restaurant Guide has over 30 restaurant suggestions, organized by part of town, and includes phone numbers, and information about those that participate on Open Table.  Worth every penny y’all!!!!

And….if you are interested in reading my memoir of living part-time in NYC, please click HERE.



NYC Book old photograph street scene



Bio about Mary Meier Evans The Curious Cowgirl

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