Tauranac deals with subjects that guidebooks usually ignore and passersby ordinarily overlook. There’s a statue of Belgium that was originally Germany, and a buffalo hunt depicted on the Manhattan Bridge, and a clock in a sidewalk. A sarcophagus stands in a public park, and the stones from the donjon that had incarcerated Joan of Arc now serve as the base for a statue that honors her. An architect’s likeness is worked into the statuary of a building that he designed (and, no, it’s not Cass Gilbert in the lobby of the Woolworth Building), a David Haas trompe l’oeil doesn’t fool all the eyes, and there’s an apocalyptic vision of a collapsing Brooklyn Bridge on a cathedral wall.
It took Tauranac longer to research and write the book than the architects and builders took to design and construct the building. That seems to put the miracle of the building into perspective.
The great aerial photographer, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, whose photographs absolutely sparkle, is the star of this book, and he gets – and deserves – top billing. Tauranac is just happy to be playing in the orchestra.
The New York Times said that Manhattan Block By Block: A Street Atlas "offers just about all the critical information a site-seeker might need – and then some."