As a native New Yorker, I found this book a wonderful and thorough analysis of major and minor events that changed New York. These events are not simplified; Max Page tells a story that includes the conflicts and interdependency of commerce, preservation, and progress.
As a San Franciscan watching my newly-adopted city go through dramatic changes, I am given guidance and insight into the effects of such turbulence. Max Page helps me identify shortsighted actions as well as deal with inevitability. At the very least, I am more aware; at best, I am a better citizen.
For ALL of us living in urban areas going through fast changes, Creative Destruction is great reading. ""Dr. Page has created a dynamic, readable exploration of the history of design and construction in what is arguably the modern world's greatest city. His vivid descriptions and insightful analyses are complemented by a treasury of remarkable photographs and other illustrations. This extremely readable, intelligent book is an indispensible resource for anyone who claims to truly know the Big Apple. ""Max Page discusses how the notion of demolition has fit into New York public policy over the decades. The topics of the eight chapters are, after an introductory chapter: the work of the Fifth Avenue Association, a critique of Jacob Riis' views on slum clearance, the controversy over saving the old City Hall, the history of the Museum of the City of New York, policy regarding trees in parks and along streets, a critique of Stokes' multi-volume "Iconography" treatise, and the symbolism of the children's book, "The Little House." The book has over 70 illustrations, mostly period photos of streetscapes and key buildings.
Parts of the book are fascinating, especially Page's critique of the writings of Jacob Riis, the 19th century Danish-American writer and reformer. But as the list above demonstrates, many of the topics of this book are simply too esoteric and remote to be of interest, even to a devoted enthusiast of New York history. "