Since its founding in 1624, New York City has been a place that creates things. What began as a trading post for beaver pelts soon transformed into a hub of technological, social, and cultural innovation—but beyond fostering literal inventions like the elevator (inside Cooper Union in 1853), Q-tips (by Polish immigrant Leo Gerstenzang in 1923), General Tso’s chicken (reimagined for American tastes in the 1970s by one of its Hunanese creators), the singles bar (1965 on the Upper East Side), and Scrabble (1931 in Jackson Heights), the city has given birth to or perfected idioms, forms, and ways of thinking that have changed the world, from Abstract Expressionism to Broadway, baseball to hip-hop, news blogs to neoconservatism to the concept of “downtown.”
Those creations and more are all collected in The Encyclopedia of New York, an A-to-Z compendium of unexpected origin stories, hidden histories, and useful guides to the greatest city in the world, compiled by the editors of New York Magazine (a city invention itself, since 1968) and featuring contributions from Rebecca Traister, Jerry Saltz, Frank Rich, Jonathan Chait, Rhonda Garelick, Kathryn VanArendonk, Christopher Bonanos, and more. Here you will find something fascinating and uniquely New York on every page: a history of the city’s skyline, accompanied by a tour guide’s list of the best things about every observation deck; the development of positive thinking and punk music; appreciations of seltzer and alternate-side-of-the-street parking; the oddest object to be found at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!; musical theater next to muckracking and mugging; and the unbelievable revelation that English muffins were created on...West Twentieth Street. Whether you are a lifelong resident, a curious newcomer, or an armchair traveler, this is the guidebook you’ll need, straight from the people who know New York best.