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Manhattan Block By Block: A Street Atlas

Tauranac doesn't leave home without a copy of Manhattan Block By Block, because he never knows what he might find that is new, or changed, or gone, facts that he enters on the site with his omnipresent red pen. And of course he reads the papers assiduously, sometimes stumbling on information in sections such as "Style" that he would never have considered a potential source. The atlas is 172 pages long, and conveniently sized at 3 5/8 by 9 inches to fit in a hip pocket, purse, or tote bag. It is "a small marvel," reported Columbia, the magazine of Columbia University.

And the Sixth Edition comes with a complete New York City Subway Map.

Part of the marvel is what is included – every hotel, theater, cultural institution, school from grammar school up, house of worship, hospital, emergency room, piece of public statuary, major office building, major apartment house, park, playground, even historic bits such as where Isaac Bashevis Singer lived. And all of this in a context that includes key house numbers, neighborhoods, and public transportation – subways, buses, and commuter- and long-distance railroads. And there are indices to aid in locating streets and places of interest, and an introduction to Manhattan and hints on how to navigate the streets.

Tauranac is regularly asked why he hasn't done a Brooklyn Block By Block, and his answer is a variation on the same theme. For starters, although Manhattan might loom large among the city's five boroughs, it is physically the smallest – 22.6 square miles. Brooklyn, on the other hand, is 81 square miles, or almost four times the size. Simple math will tell you that if it took Tauranac three years to chart Manhattan, it would take twelve to chart Brooklyn. Then there is the Thomas Wolfe story to contend with. "Only the Dead Know Brooklyn" is the title, because, said Wolfe, it takes a lifetime to learn it. Tauranac has spent his life trying to learn Manhattan, and he certainly doesn't know it all. Maybe someone should write "Only the Dead Know Manhattan."