The Archaeology of Home: An Epic Set on a Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side
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The Archaeology of Home: An Epic Set on a Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side

3.0 of 5 stars 3.00  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  36 reviews
When Katharine Greider was told to leave her house or risk it falling down on top of her and her family, it spurred an investigation that began with contractors' diagnoses and lawsuits, then veered into archaeology and urban history, before settling into the saltwater grasses of the marsh that fatefully once sat beneath the site of Number 239 East 7th Street.During the jou...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by PublicAffairs
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Nancy
People who live in or know New York City might enjoy this more than I did. It is the history of an apartment house at 239 E. 7th Street in NYC. It is the history of the place, starting as a salt marsh known by the native Indian tribes and also the brief stories of the people who settled the land and lived in the building. The author researches all this after her family had to give up the apartment when it was condemned by the city for being structurally unsound. The life stories suffer from ther...more
Aimee
I received a copy of this via First Reads, and I was very excited about it. I love the concept, looking back through history to see how the place you call home was shaped, basically Basin and Range on a much smaller level.
However, it's proving to be a very difficult read. I consider myself a quick reader, but I've been working on this for over two weeks now, and I'm only 58 pages in. It's very well researched, but feels somewhat disjointed. The plethora of footnotes, though required, make it fe...more
Linda
An absorbing, thoroughly researched yet personal slice of American social history. I received this advance copy through the First Reads program and was very grateful to get it, because I had already seen reviews of the book. It took me a while to get to it, because I was tied up with other projects. I notice that some people found it heavy going. Personally, I am reading it slowly because I am savoring it. I am a professional historian, so I appreciate the thoroughness of the author's research a...more
Alicia
I got this book as an advanced reading copy. It is a very interesting read. Quite factual and all over the place. She jumps from person to person. To her own story. To facts about a specific subject matter. There is individual stories thrown into all of it. Lots of names & dates. A new paragraph can start a whole new subject that has nothing to do with the one before but slightly with the chapter heading.
I am enjoying it quite a bit though. Very interesting information.
I like facts, though...more
Janelle
I received a review copy of this book through goodreads' first reads program. As I relished Bill Bryson's latest book At Home: A Short History of Private Life), I looked forward to a narrative about an American home. The premise of this book - exploring the history of a single home (239 E. 7th St in Manhattan) through time - is promising. However, the execution is muddied.

At times, the author's poetic voice is in step with her narrative. When it works, it works. Early on, she says "All of us wal...more
Debbie Smith
After reading the description of this book I was immediately intrigued. Having taught U.S. History, English and Literature for over 30 years I am always drawn to books that might give me a fresh perspective on events in our history. Winning a copy of this book from Goodreads was great! It took me a week or so to find the time to begin "The Archaeology of Home" and at first I was reading it out of duty. It read very much like a textbook and although the descriptions Katherine Greider gave of the...more
Karen
The author gets a late-night phone call in January 2002 telling her the coop she lives in is falling down around her ears and she and her family better move soon. This startling revelation sends her on an investigation of the history of 239 7th street between avenues C and D in New York City. It's a fascinating look at the history of a neighborhood, especially one in one of our most interesting cities. Dutch farmers first settled in the meadow which became 7th street and the row house was built...more
Andrew
How would I react to the news that my home was structurally unsound and was to be condemned? That is probably an unanswerable question, but I’m reasonably certain that I wouldn’t be inspired to research the entire history of my property. However, that is exactly what the author has done in response to the demolition of the place she called home, a co-op building on East 7th Street in the East Village of New York City. The result of that (obviously intensive) research is this book, which is a wei...more
Joan
Nov 21, 2011 Joan added it
The author's co-op building was in the throes of rehabbing when she received a call in the middle of the night saying that everyone had to leave, that the house, which dated from the early 1800's, was likely to collapse at any moment. In trying to discover what went wrong, structurally, Greider delved into the history of the house, and, making lemonade from the lemon life handed her, wrote a book about the house, the history of the place where it stood, and the people who had preceded her there....more
Melissa Ooten
Reading a book about a house literally falling down and being condemned by the city (while families are actually living in it and paying mortgages on it) really isn't the best pick when you think that your very own shower/bathtub may be descending into your kitchen. My own anxieties aside, I especially enjoyed the neighborhood sketches as you get a real sense of how this lower east side street evolved in terms of its occupants from the mid-1800s to the present. I also could relate to Greider's s...more
Susan
I really, really love this book.

I can't believe it's only at 2.5 stars! What is wrong with you people?

This book was epic and personal. It was historical and poetic. Greider played into many of my own tiny personal interests, thinking about place, space, landscape, home, tribe, migration, and the great play of history, from micro to macro. So many times when reading this book over the past couple of weeks, I've exclaimed to my partner, "HA!" and the proceeded to read whole paragraphs to him aloud...more
Dawn Branch
While this book is about a particular brownstone in NYC, the title is a bit misleading. This is partly a book about how New York City developed. Also its about how a family develops and deals with a major life problem. I enjoyed the rich visual history that Greider paints with words. You can envision how the city developed in a historical sense. However, the parts about dealing with the other building shareholders, lawyers, and with the building contractors, etc. got old. The building had major...more
kathryn
Oct 21, 2011 kathryn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mom
it was an interesting style as she sort of digressed over a few topics. the main story line was her family's apartment in an east village co-op(7th street-alphabet city) that has MAJOR structural damage and they have to deal withthat and with the other co-op owners-what a saga. BUT what she does is explore the house, exlplore NYC's history from the native americans up to present around that location-the former salt marsh now East Village. You also get a bit on Jewish peddlers, Hungary that becam...more
Teresa
I received an advance copy of The Archaeology of Home through Goodreads. This book is part history, part memoir, part anthropological study, and I think perhaps the author got too ambitious trying to cover too much ground. It covers time periods from the Neolithic era to the present day, chapters jump from Victorian house wives to the author's legal battles over real estate. At times she goes into kind of a dry ramble. For all its faults though, there are some interesting pieces here. I would re...more
Lorraine
I really enjoyed this book. It is not easy to define however. Part memoir, part history, part musings on a variety of related topics. An interesting look at one tiny piece of property in NYC.
Leslie
Greider's abrupt discovery that her home on 7th Street was in imminent danger of collapsing led to an obsessive quest to find and understand the history of the building. While firmly tilted toward the side of history and genealogy, a fair portion of the book describes not only Greider's reaction, but that of her husband, tenants, and co=owners of the co-op building to the news and the subsequent problems. More than a 2 but not quite a 3, The Archaeology of Home would be best suited for readers f...more
Roberta
I was excited to get this book as a Goodreads review copy. I love reading about New York and I thought the premise sounded so promising.

I'm not sure why I can't get into it. It's meticulously researched, not badly written and the personal story should be gripping. For all that, I only read the first couple of chapters and skimmed the rest.

I think the writer did not decide what she was writing - a detailed history, a memoir, a refelection on the meaning of home, and tried to do it all. I'll be pa...more
Cheryl
A laborious, but ultimately satisfying, and periodically poetic exploration of home, place, and a particular neighborhood. Illuminating.
Beth Anne
goodreads giveaway.


didn't love this book. i found the story of the author the most interesting part of this book...but it was bogged down with a lot of boring history that didn't follow a good flow. i wanted the historical sections to be just as interesting as her present day story...but the writing style between the two just didn't match up.

it was interesting in a text book kind of way...i learned a lot about new york history but could have been told with a little more flair.
Pat
Mar 01, 2011 Pat rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I won this as a Goodreads First Read. A fascinating idea, to follow one location through history. I very much enjoyed the views of the Lower East Side of New York over time, and the information about the people who lived there. Ms. Greider's personal experiences of losing her home were also interesting. I only have one quibble about the book--I have never been to New York, so more maps and pictures would have been helpful. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.
Jackie
I won this book from firstreads..... Lucky me!
Well, maybe not so lucky me. The idea sounded fascinating so I thought I'd like it..... but I really didn't want to read a textbook. Sorry but I couldn't get into it. I enjoy a well researched book but not one with a footnote in every other sentence. I just don't like to 'work' that hard at reading when I'm just reading for pleasure. I never stop reading a book without finishing it but this one made me do it.
Laura
Mar 11, 2011 Laura rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people that live in New York
I received this book through goodreads first reads. I had to pull the bookmark shortly after page 100. I just couldn't stay interested long enough to stay with it. The wording was difficult and didn't flow along well. I do think that a person from New York city would possibly find this book interesting. I will pass this one along to a friend who has voiced interest in this book and the history of New York.
Margaret McCamant
Fascinating story. When a family's Lower East Side home is discovered to be about to fall down, the city forces them to move out. The author takes the opportunity to research the neighborhood and the house's history and that of all its inhabitants, going back several centuries. It includes the author's interesting musings, many backed up by social science research, about what makes a place feel like home.
Lynn
Thank you goodreads for chosing me to read your book. After picking this book up I knew that it would be full of facinating deatails of the buildings and the history of the lower east side of Manhattan, which was definately true. I enjoyed the authors personnal account in the book, but it was difficult to sift throught the many details in the beginning of the book to tie the story together.
kristy
Loved the idea of this book (history of one spot of land/one building over time) but something got lost in the execution. Too many details and too long in some parts, but still felt spotty in others. Good effort weaving the personal story in with the urban historical research but overall felt like it could have been done better.
Emily Wallace
Started off so promising! I really really wanted to like it. There were parts that were perfect! Then it got sort of thick and bogged down with uninteresting facts, block numbers, and streets that I couldn't follow. I read the Kindle version. Hopefully the full book had fabulous maps to help the reader.
MBP
I thought the premise was wonderful: the exploration of history, and the meaning of home, through the story of one house. I didn't think the execution lived up to the premise. A bit jumpy, rambling in places while hurried in others. I felt the story of that particular house became an afterthought at some point.
Divya
Mar 03, 2011 Divya rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anybody
Shelves: first-reads
The Archaeology of Home was incredible and really something new and awesome to read. I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads! I really want to thank it for the giveaway, also the publishers.
Gretchen
One of my favorites ever. History, philosophy, memoir... Amazing how she used her grief to pull together many topics and threads in a totally engaging way.
Lynne
Mar 11, 2011 Lynne marked it as to-read
Thank you so much for letting me win this free book from First Reads. Looking forward to reading it. Thank you.
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