Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor” as Want to Read:
The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  93 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
John Randel Jr. (1787–1865) was an eccentric and flamboyant surveyor. Renowned for his inventiveness as well as for his bombast and irascibility, Randel was central to Manhattan’s development but died in financial ruin. Telling Randel’s engrossing and dramatic life story for the first time, this eye-opening biography introduces an unheralded pioneer of American engineering ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published February 18th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Measure of Manhattan, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Measure of Manhattan

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Rhonda
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is about the work of the man who made the famous map of the street grid of Manhattan, before the street grid existed on the ground.
Eugene Leventhal
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ny, bio
This book offers some very interesting insights into the development of the grid system in NYC, a topic that initially lured me to this book based on the title and cover. I have a (potentially questionable) habit of wanting to know as little as possible about a book before I read it, so I was unaware that this book was focused more on Randel's life and work that was limited to New York. Though he is clearly someone who deserves more historic recognition then he gets, I was not particularly looki ...more
Elizabeth
I wanted this book to be more than it is. John Randel, Jr. is the surveyor responsible for the New York grid system which has defined the city for two centuries. His compulsive nature gave us the grid the way it is today...carefully measured, right angles correct, departing from the system only when topography or previous streets intervened. This part of the book is most interesting.

Randel seems to have been at the top of his field as far as accuracy and detail were concerned. However, he didn't
...more
Margaret Sankey
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the Mannahatta Project, which attempted to use GIS mapping to recover what Hudson encountered in the early 17th century landing in New York. In order to do that, geographers had to get back to the grid system laid out by John Randel, an early 19th century surveyor, inventor, engineer and general innovator who imposed order on the landscape. Holloway is very good at explaining how Enlightenment science and American apprenticeships produced the legion of surveyors who mapped the frontier, ...more
Susan
Sep 14, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As an NYC-phile, I was excited to read about the history behind its layout. However, I stopped reading this book 87 pages in because the text was hard to follow and of low interest. The author repeats herself - she described the same tangential story twice. That kind of thing irritates me. She also uses pronouns too much after introducing new people. I had to go back and reread frequently to determine which "he" she was talking about. What I wanted to get out of this book was an appreciation for ...more
Thomas
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I wanted to enjoy this book so badly. It's an inherently interesting subject, and knowing something of the author, I was hoping that I would be unable to put the book down. While it's clear that the author had great passion for her research, the book came across as a dry read, and she was unable to distill that passion into something more pleasurable. After the book sat untouched on my nightstand for several weeks, I knew it was time to move on.

I'm sorry, Ms. Holloway. I'll give your next book a
...more
Alasdair Craig
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a surveyor I can't help but like this interesting book about a fascinating person. I like how it's correct in the survey details, not over-simplified. It gets very scholarly in parts and the final third almost too much so. Wonderful to have researchers like Holloway who allow us to remember times, places and people such as with this one.
Suzanne (suz&mark)
Feb 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didnt-finish
The premise of this book was very good but it was so dry it read like a textbook. I thought at least there would be some cool older maps to look at but they are printed so small in the book you need a magnifying glass.
Marc
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good biography of John Randel, one of the most persistent surveyors of Manhattan, and whose work paved the way for the Manhattan street grid. Those thinking this book is about the how the grid came to pass might be disappointed, as it comprises a relatively minor portion of the story.
David R.
Holloway does what she can with the poorly documented John Randel, Jr. but this fascinating character cannot sustain a whole book. Hence the author inserts (at odd intervals) rather less interesting content concerning modern GIS cartographers and their search for Randel's lost survey markers.
Glenn
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far so good, my expectations are on the high side because I love learning origin stories about my home.
Jeffrey
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I could not sleep.... This author s writting about moe thing I really care about but his narrative lacks cohesion and is hard to follow.
Nick Jones
Started strong but did not sustain momentum
Marshall Robinson
A great history of an interesting character, his time in history (early 1880s) and most importantly, of NYC. This is the story of the layout of the NYC grid as we know it today.
Lynn Millar
Parts are most intriguing - about how we define space and ourselves through maps. But sometimes the book was so laden with technical details I couldn't finish.
Daniel Farabaugh
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enjoyable book explaining the life and contributions of Randel to the mapping of NY. The only place where it falls short is towards the end when the author makes more general musing.
Templehurst
rated it liked it
Jun 09, 2014
Bryne Gondo
rated it really liked it
Mar 02, 2013
Nasha
rated it really liked it
Nov 22, 2016
Stu
rated it it was ok
May 29, 2013
James Wood
rated it really liked it
Sep 14, 2017
Jane
rated it really liked it
Sep 17, 2017
Kevin Frisch
rated it it was ok
Sep 18, 2013
Dianna
rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2013
Mark
rated it liked it
Apr 30, 2014
Adrian Majlis
rated it it was ok
Dec 26, 2017
Natale Cozzolongo
rated it liked it
Nov 14, 2014
Jason Reeves
rated it really liked it
Sep 24, 2013
Erica
rated it liked it
Apr 04, 2013
Anne
rated it it was ok
Apr 11, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Mapping Manhattan: A Love (And Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers
  • The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City
  • City of Ambition: FDR, LaGuardia, and the Making of Modern New York
  • Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy
  • Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America
  • Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston
  • Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution
  • London: A Life in Maps
  • A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century
  • The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History
  • The Historical Atlas of New York City: A Visual Celebration of Nearly 400 Years of New York City's History
  • Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age
  • Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City
  • The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America
  • Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation
  • The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine--Antiquarian, Architect, and Visionary
  • Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline
  • A Disposition to Be Rich: How a Small-Town Pastor's Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States
Marguerite Holloway, the director of Science and Environmental Journalism at Columbia University, has written for Scientific American, Discover, the New York Times, Natural History, and Wired. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
More about Marguerite Holloway...

Nonfiction Deals

  • Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Sometimes You Win--Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future Is Selling Less of More
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Funny In Farsi: A Memoir Of Growing Up Iranian In America
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Effortless Healing: 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Fix Itself
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity
    $5.99 $2.99