New York City comes alive in New York: The Photo Atlas, a stunning aerial tour of the five boroughs and adjoining areas that features eye-popping and highly detailed photos courtesy of the folks at Getmapping, who specialize in full-color digital photographic maps. Getmapping has previously published these gigantic photo atlases of places like London and Edinburgh, and now they reveal the city of New York in a way most residents and tourists will never get to see otherwise.
Native New Yorkers and visitors alike will revel in these images of the Big Apple that include the typical hot spots like the Statue of Liberty and Midtown Manhattan, Broadway and Wall Street, Greenwich Village and Gramercy Park, the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden, the Hudson River and Wall Street, and every house, park, street, village, square, wharf, dock, business district, shopping center, lighthouse, cemetery, point of interest and historical landmark in between. In fact, the photographs cover all five of the boroughs of New York City, as well as parts of eastern New Jersey and New York’s Westchester County, and the photos are so close and sharp you can easily find your own house, local park, school or place of business by sight alone, or by using the dual photo/cartography system that allows places of interest to be identified by a standard grid system.
One of the most haunting images comes on pages 20 and 21, which show the area where the Twin Towers once stood. So sharp are the photos that you can see the construction work going on down below. So breathtaking are the first two pages of images, which show the Statue of Liberty standing tall and welcoming all those who seek refuge in the new land. The aerial photography is, of course, the attention-stealer in this magnificent birds-eye view of the city, but the detailed street maps make this book more than just an awesome coffee table decoration. The atlas is usable, and the comprehensive index at the back of the book makes it easy to locate any place of interest using the coordinates for each page. More than 40,000 New York streets are featured, so anyone who lives, or has ever lived in or visited New York, should have no trouble finding their favorite spots.
Thumbing through New York: The Photo Atlas is like taking a long and leisurely helicopter ride over the city itself, so vivid are the photos. You can actually see individual houses and the fine details of places like Central Park and Spanish Harlem and Chinatown and Little Italy, or follow along the Long Island Expressway and trace the routes of major city thoroughfares and noted bridges like the Whitestone, Brooklyn and Throgs Neck. Parks and golf courses stand out in glorious green patches amidst a sea of houses and buildings, and the patterns of city life become visible from this “heavenly” viewpoint. In all the photos, you can even make out individual cars in parking lots and on city streets, and someone with a really sharp eye for detail can spend hours and hours finding tiny hidden treasures galore among these pages.
I grew up just north of Manhattan Island and spent many days visiting the city’s attractions. Looking through this book is like being there all over again and finding the same excitement and energy that I felt being down on the ground in the greatest city on earth. One thing this book does so beautifully, though, is give you a real sense of unity and cohesion – the feeling that despite the city being made up of over eight million stories, the overall bigger picture is the same for every single person, and that the stories all connect and intersect. From this high up, you can’t help but feel like we are all New Yorkers.