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The New York Nobody Knows:
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"[The book] recognises the fact that the everyday experience of the city--the people you meet, the odd things that happen--are important. . . . For me, the best bits are Helmreich's detailed descriptions of chance encounters. . . . He gives a powerful depiction of the numbing dullness of some people's jobs, from the security guard in the museum to the man waving a flag outside a garage. These are described with tenderness and not a little wry humour."--Flora Samuel, Times Higher Education

"Fascinating."--Michael Potemra, National Review

"An uncommon portrait of the city in 2013: a look at its diverse neighborhoods and the urban issues--like immigration, community, use of public space and gentrification--that run through all of them. The book is not a guidebook, but a very accessible sociological study, full of color and anecdote."--Sandee Brawarsky, Jewish Week

"By necessity, given the size of the city, Helmreich calls his book no more than a much-needed 'introductory work' to the diversity of New York City. His method is, in some ways, a throw back to a much earlier form of social criticism, when walking was curiously in vogue for the self-styled intellectuals and elites of 19th century Europe. Think of Charles Dickens's night walks through London or the well-dressed flâneurs of Paris. And it's one that anyone can learn from. 'If I accomplish anything besides sociology,' Helmreich says, 'it's to encourage people to walk through what I call the greatest museum in the world.'"--Stephanie Garlock, The Atlantic

"The New York Nobody Knows is not a walking tour or a mere list of city highlights. The book is a 450-page sociological examination of New York through the eyes of a keen observer. It is segmented into parts on the city's ethnic composition, gentrification, environs and what the future may hold for America's melting pot. And yes, there's a section on what makes New York fun, too. . . . The New York Nobody Knows is gratifyingly deep with analysis on the city's history and demographics while also reading like a survival guide at times."--Colin Devries, Daily News

"[E]xcellent. . . . [T]he voices and stories of the people [Helmreich] encounters are what make this book so memorable. . . . It's refreshing to read a book that celebrates so unreservedly the ethnic diversity of a city and entirely fitting that it should be about a metropolis that has always been defined by its cosmopolitan culture."--PD Smith, The Guardian

"It's a story of Helmreich's encounters with hundreds of New Yorkers from every walk of life and from every part of the globe, including Mayors Ed Koch, David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. His observations--all touching on various aspects of the multifarious lives of the estimated 8.3 million people wgi live, work, survive and thrive in the world's greatest metropolitan city--are poignant and insightful, heartfelt and charming."--Amsterdam News

"In the genre of 'books tallying mammoth heroic self-imposed feats' comes William B. Helmreich's engaging account of how he logged 6,000 miles on foot through all the boroughs of NYC, accumulating many insights into the eternal, multi-ethnic metropolis."--Barnes and Noble Review

"If Walt Whitman contained 'multitudes' within himself, this fine book contains multitudes more--the beating, dynamic heart of New York is here."--City-litcafe

"Helmreich's shoe leather was worth it; the book is a thorough study."--Grace Lichtenstein, PopMatters

"[E]ngaging . . . easily-read and nicely-paced."--Tommy Barker, Irish Examiner

"This exploration of New York City is built from the souvenirs of a formidable journey. Sociologist Helmreich presents the city as a richly diverse place whose residents are eager to share insights and opinions. At its best, the volume reflects the author's willingness to listen, to observe, and to be amazed. . . . [T]his is an original study, and one that will inspire others to set out to walk, and talk, their way across the city."--Choice

"The New York Nobody Knows really does (socially) traverse the New York nobody knows; while in so doing, invariably opening a menagerie of colourful doors I suspect most people didn't even know existed. Myself wholeheartedly included."--David Marx,

"Helmreich's book is clearly a labor of love for both the city as a collective project and the city of individual human lives and stories."--Michael Minn, Geographical Reviews

"The New York Nobody Knows exemplifies the richness that the ethnographic approach affords. . . . It must be read with a flexible mind-set, but once read that way, can be revisited and mined for its rich data. Helmreich added to the knowledge base typically gleaned from categorical analysis, and overcame many of the blind spots usually present in such research. Helmreich's work inspires social scientists to lace-them-up and do it elsewhere."--David B. Broad, Ph.D., International Social Science Review


"A modern-day flaneur, ethnographer William Helmreich moves engagingly through the streets and neighborhoods of New York, making pithy and substantive observations that place the everyday lives of the city's diverse peoples in a peculiarly revealing light. The New York Nobody Knows is a brilliant representation of everyday lives of New Yorkers, and as such--what Baudelaire did for Paris, Helmreich's work promises for New York."--Elijah Anderson, author of The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life

"Helmreich's original and incredible book shows what every nook and cranny of this city looks like from the inside. I have never seen a work that amasses so many observations from so many scenes and deploys them with such elegance. It is a monumental and inspiring achievement."--Mitchell Duneier, author of Sidewalk

"William Helmreich has walked everywhere and read everything pertinent on New York, and has many astute observations about both the essential spirit of the Big Apple and its rapid changes. Recommended to all lovers of this particular city, and cities in general."--Phillip Lopate, author of Waterfront: A Walk around Manhattan

"The book offers an intriguing journey through the jagged patchwork of New York neighborhoods. Helmreich is a native son who has never lost his love for the city, its unusual characters, and its capacity to absorb change."--Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places

"Original and important, The New York Nobody Knows presents a picture of the inner life of the city, bit by delightful bit, as a complete whole. The book is enchanting in a wonderfully old-fashioned way."--Peter Moskos, author of Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore's Eastern District

"In a clear storytelling manner, Helmreich makes the case that New York is a vibrant, complex, and diverse municipality grappling with a range of social conditions and different forms of social change, all of which are affecting America's major cities. I know of no other work comparable in scope."--Alford A. Young Jr., author of The Minds of Marginalized Black Men: Making Sense of Mobility, Opportunity, and Future Life Chances

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File created: 9/19/2017

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