With the holiday season approaching, the time has come for curling up beside the fireplace with a good book. We’ve identified four works of nonfiction about Brooklyn that will be perfect for those cold winter nights.
Our picks range from a walking tour of the borough to a historical look at Bed Stuy. Each of the books debuted in 2016.
William B. Helmreich, who authored The New York Nobody Knows by walking some 6,000 miles through New York City, decided to do the Brooklyn portion of his quest again, walking more than 816 miles to cover every block of the borough. Along the way, he collected stories and histories of each and every Brooklyn neighborhood from the residents who live there — uncovering tales of a place that’s lived and worked in by millions every day.
Nancy Webster and David Shirley’s account of the history of Brooklyn Bridge Park is an exploration of how the industrial spaces on the East River waterfront were transformed into a shared public space that has become one of the most popular parks in New York City. The book tells how community activists fought for many decades to bring about the green space that sits at the base of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
Michael Woodsworth’s book covers Bed Stuy’s residents’ fight against poverty through organization, and shows how the community and government sought to bring positive change to the area. The author explores how the neighborhood’s anti-poverty program provided hope to residents in seemingly hopeless times, and how the “paradoxical legacies of midcentury reform” helped lead to today’s gentrified Bed Stuy.
Neil deMause writes about modern Brooklyn and how we got here in his newly published The Brooklyn Wars. The award winning journalist takes a deep dive into who the stakeholders were and are in Brooklyn’s continuing rebirth, from Coney Island to Pacific Park, and what’s at stake in each situation.
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