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Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas

(City Atlases)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Winner of the 2017 Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Arts Society of New York

"The maps themselves are things of beauty... a document of its time, of our time."
—Sadie Stein, New York Times

"One is invited to fathom the many New Yorks hidden from history’s eye... thoroughly terrific."
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro's collection
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published October 19th 2016 by University of California Press
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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Nick Klagge
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. Rebecca Solnit is one of my favorite writers, but she's mainly just an editor here--she has one or two essays, but most are by other people. I know the point of this book is to be an "atlas," but mostly I didn't feel like the maps added a lot--I probably would have preferred it as just a book of essays. But at any rate, there are some pretty good ones here. I tended to like best the essays that focused more on personal experiences or individual ...more
Leslie Ann
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, abandoned
The maps are interesting, but the writing is not - at least based on the Introduction.
January Gray
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As if I already wasn't in love with New York, this book comes along? Beautiful and informative and...just beautiful.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is impossible to capture a city on paper, but Nonstop Metropolis comes close. In this collection of twenty-six brilliant, layered, informative and imaginative maps, accompanied by essays written by a diverse group of writers and residents of the city, Nonstop Metropolis manages to translate a little bit of the essence of a city into art, words, marks on a page.

The maps that make up this book explore this meandering, contradictory definition of a city. Cities, in so many ways, are infinite.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Gorgeous prism of perspectives on my home.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful book and illustrations. Very creative spin on one of my favorite cities, but not sure it should have been a book. Maybe another format would have suited this better.
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. Unique. Beautifully printed.
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the third in a series by Solnit on power and cities, the other two being on New Orleans and San Francisco. Solnit points out that the three cities are the most unique in the United States and represent poles of power and meeting places. While I do not entirely buy that, she compares them to being islands of urbanity amongst surrounding by hostile rural red as symbols of degeneracy and sin. Solnit and Jelly-Shapiro therefore argue that New York is a symbol both of domination, capital of ...more
Having read several of Solnit's books I was curious to finally get my hands on one of the atlases, in this case New York, as out of the three cities in the series this is the only one I've actually been to - and only once. The maps were the best part of the book, creative and informative and detailed. Most of the essays matched that level in terms of being informative, although not all of them felt that well-written. For someone who knows next to nothing about current NYC or its history, the ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
A visually interesting book that, once opened, is page after page disappointment & regret.

From the ego-centric view of what is important, west coast version of what is interesting and a text that is shameless in pandering to only the newest transplants to the 5 boroughs, this book was shocking how poorly it all came together.

The maps were appealing without ever bothering to have enough or interesting information.

The expansive rambling, disconnected stories and details of the text were
The maps are uniformly gorgeous, and so clever in their connections. Whaling and publishing! Stars of Harlem and stars over Harlem! New York City as northernmost Caribbean isle! I feel like I learned about more than just Popular Manhattan Bits, although I learned about those too. And the well-founded fears of gentrification and climate change and the Richifying of Manhattan are echoed against the well-founded fears of eras past. The city’s survived a lot of shit, this book says; it may just ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
This is hard to rate! I wanted to like it more, conceptually, but the truth is I found it slow going to read. Some of the essays are very interesting, others are rather dull. There's an overall lack of cohesion, which seems like it *should* work in terms of viewing the city through many lenses, but somehow just feels disorienting. Weird form factor -- a bit too large to read comfortably, yet it feels cramped as an atlas (especially the fact that it doesn't lay flat, though the maps are split ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I checked this out from the Library purely because it had some essays from the lovely Garnette Cadogan. I am excited about his book on walking and wonder when it will be out. Solnit is always a summer-reading author generally for me, so it was the season. Though I don't have much feeling for New York as I have only visited once, it was still fun to read. I am reminded though about how people in the country of England get tired of "reading about London all the time. Some people seem to think that ...more
Kerry Pickens
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
This is an interesting book format because it is at once at atlas and a cultural history book. The maps included in the book show where different cultural events happened, for example, where different songs were recorded. My favorite section is on the Jewish history in New York, so the book offers detailed information on topics that are not available in most tour books or atlases. The book is also a three part series including New York City, New Orleans and San Francisco. This theme is based on ...more
Frank Karioris
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has to be one of the most well put together and aesthetically pleasing books that simultaneously is packed to the rafters with information and data. While it gave me any number of insights into NYC, at the same time, I think that the book is better read alongside others about the city; or having had more experience of it in person. As a next-to-new wanderer in NYC, there were a large amount of things that I just couldn't quite envision. But, this weekend's trip there may shine light on some ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The essays in this collection are interesting reads, especially if you are a passionate New Yorker. I learned a few things and revisited many of my favorite NYC neighborhoods. Although the book is well-designed for the maps, it is unfortunately designed for reading. It's clumsy to hold because of the thick chipboard cover and the elongated size. And the typeset is meh in terms of ease of reading. Dear book designer, next time please find a better balance between the nice aesthetic and being ...more
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are lots of ways to look at New York is a book of maps, but not just geographic maps...maps of people, food, history. Each cleverly designed map (water, money, wildlife) includes a well-written essay about the issue: "What is a Jew?" "Mysterious land of Shaolin."

The book gives a fair look at the greater New York essay and includes a good essay about the forgotten borough--Staten Island. It even gives a shout out to New Jersey!

For you New York geeks...and if you love maps.

Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
An “atlas” of New York which looks at the USA’s largest city from multiple perspectives, from history to linguistics to hip-hop. The maps themselves are pretty cool, though some are more successful than others. But it’s the accompanying essays that really shine. They’re by several different authors, but by and large they’re original and enlightening. Reading this book reminds me of taking a 24-hour walk around all 5 boroughs of NYC (which was the subject of one of the more memorable chapters), ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I picked up this collection of essays, I was drawn by the cool map of female writers/artists by subway stops that I'd seen several friends circulating. While a couple of the essays were already familiar as I'd seen them in the New Yorker et al, seeing it all together in this lovely collection reminds you of how important it is to step outside the box while mapping a city that you think you know and yet one that's so large that you will never stop finding new things. Solnit at her best-- ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Third, and last, book in the series. So far I've had opportunity to flip through San Francisco, pore over New Orleans, and dive into New York in a mad rush--pretty much my experience with these cities, too. All three left me wishing for more money/time, to read the books, to read the cities, to make my own maps of my own town.
The essays in this edition hit me harder than the maps, maybe bc NYC is such a layered palimpsest that visual representations quickly become unreadable. Maps lay things
Vinny Minchillo
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The first third of the book is hard core partisan politics that belies the promise of the book. (The author works hard to convince us Occupy Wall Street was a milestone in NYC history. It wasn't.) But if you start with the section on water and power and move on from there, it's an interesting look at the city effectively juxtaposing things that you would never put together. And by all means, skip the introduction, that's 30 minutes you're never getting back.
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: north-america
An impressive mix of essays tied together by maps of unexpected combinations (e.g., whaling and publishing; wildlife and LGBTQ life; police complaints and green spaces) and others straightforward (city planning; Wu-Tang Clan influences; languages in Queens). It's a great representation of the wild diversity and history that emanates from NYC and a gift to those who know it.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book felt more like a hodgepodge than the book about San Francisco. Maybe because it felt like it was trying too hard? The maps are beautiful. The information felt uneven, trying for inclusiveness.
Lisa Ahn
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The maps in Nonstop Metropolis are creative and inspiring. They look at NYC through various lenses, from money to trash, riots, climate change, whaling and water. The accompanying essays give insight into NYC's past and present, in all its complexities.
Erin Moonyeen
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love the poetry and lyricism that is used to describe the city of NYC. NYC is always a Wonderland, but this book makes the city come alive with its many cultural, artistic, historical and even delightfully hedonistic landscapes.
The best of the three in this series. It offered the most heartfelt and honest essays along with the most beguiling maps of the City That Never Sleeps.
Andrew Louis
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cities, history, nyc, urbanism
Really enjoyed reading this but the maps/essays are very uneven in quality.
Jackson Barkstrom
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
The maps are great, and for that I give this 4 stars. I'm a sucker for good visualizations, and these were innovative as well as good. I wasn't overly interested by the writing.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you like maps and NYC history and lore, this is a nice book to read. Quirky and cool.
Helen Marquis
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and engaging guide to New York, filled with information that you probably don't know! I loved this so much that I went out and bought the San Francisco one, as it's the city closest to my home.
This series of books (there's also one about New Orleans) are filled with maps showing the city broken down by various demographics, such as religion, gender, language, race, etc accompanied by essays discussing the history of a slice of cultural life in the Big Apple. From the RZA's
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Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than twenty books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster, including Call Them By Their True Names(Winner of the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction), Cinderella Liberator, Men Explain Things to Me, The Mother of All Questions, and Hope in ...more

Other books in the series

City Atlases (3 books)
  • Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas
  • Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas