Tomorrow-Land by Joseph Tirella. Anyone who grew up on Long Island in the 60s knows the name Robert Moses, if only for the Jones Beach Causeway. He was never elected to any position but wielded vast powers over the highways and parks. The references to him as the Master Builder made me think of Moses the movie and made me laugh. He was the driving force behind the Fair and controlled its makeup. Although the 1964-65 World's Fair was a financial failure, it was a memorable experience. I never knew how many of the pavilions were created by Walt Disney. And now I know why so many smaller countries were there but not too many big ones. The story is set against the the events of the age - the Beatles, unemployment and racial discrimination, urban development and so much more. It's well-researched and worth reading.
Gotham Unbound by Ted Steinberg. He calls it the ecological history of greater New York. It will help any reader understand the relationships between nature and man and his works. For four centuries New York and New Jersey have been filling in meadows and marshlands. He focuses on the relationships between the land and water and the effects on humans and animal life. I didn't realize how much of New York was built on garbage and how much water under the land there still is. I have a better understanding of the impact from Hurricane Sandy and why New Yorkers should still be concerned. The book is dense but worth it. It's a wonderful education on ecology. He has over 100 pages of notes, references and additional reading for students of the topic.
This week's fiction book continues the New York theme. A Big Storm Knocked It Over was Laurie Colwin's final book, published posthumously. I did get the feeling it wasn't quite done yet. I enjoy her slice-of-life approach to romance and her Manhattan characters. Nothing big happens but everything happens. Friendships dwindle or grow stronger in a realistic way. And I think it must be a NY thing to refer to women by two names. My Brooklyn cousins all do that.