• by Pete Hamill
  • Narrated by Pete Hamill
  • 5 hrs and 53 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In Downtown, Hamill leads us on an unforgettable journey through the city he loves, from the island's southern tip to 42nd Street, combining a moving memoir of his days and nights in New York with a passionate history of its most enduring places and people. From the Battery's traces of the early port to Washington Square's ghosts of executed convicts and well-heeled Knickerbockers; from the Five Points, once the most dangerous and squalid slum in America, to the mansions of the robber barons on "the Fifth Avenue"; from the Bowery of the 1860s, the vibrant heart of the city's theater world, to the Village of the 1960s, with its festival-like street life, this is downtown as we've never seen it before. Hamill weaves his own memories of Manhattan with the liveliest moments from its past, and points out the hints of that past living on in the city of today, fueling the ever-present nostalgia of its inhabitants. Hamill introduces us to the New Yorkers who have left indelible marks: Peter Stuyvesant and John Jacob Astor, Stanford White and George Templeton Strong, Edith Wharton and Henry James, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, W. H. Auden and Allen Ginsberg, Boss Tweed and Fiorello La Guardia, Jimi Hendrix and Thelonious Monk, and scores of others. And he takes us to the eateries, saloons, theaters, movie houses, bookstores, and street corners they, and he, once frequented, whether still standing or existing only in memory.
Through the city's transformations, the pulse of Pete Hamill's brilliant voice melds with the pulse that drives New York, that mixture of daring, greed, anger, rebellion, hope, entrepreneurialism, and longing that never fades. Written by native son who has lived through some of New York City's most historic moments, Downtown is an extraordinary celebration of the magnificent, haunted place that Hamill continues to call home, and that people from all over the country and the world have come to call their own.


What the Critics Say

"Marvelous....Written with insight, humor, and, most of all, a deep love of the Big Apple." (Publishers Weekly)
"A delightfully personal, robustly informative portrait of New York....A marvelous read for anyone who has a hometown." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A frustrating read

The book was frustrating to me due to the author's disjointed style and lack of specifics. The fact that Mr. Hamill loves Manhattan is clear, but so is his past history as a writer for a newspaper tabloid. This feels like a quick newspaper article, extended ad-nauseum. There seems to be no clear structure to the book, be it by location, theme, time or date. Thoughts seem to have appeared on paper through stream of conciousness. I was further frustrated in my desire to learn about the history of Manhattan by the dearth of specific anectodes or data to support generalities in the book. The non-New Yorker can learn a little bit about the Island of Manhattan, but it takes a lot of patience.
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- David Ross

Jumps all over the place

This is a boring review of a fantastic city. The author manages to take an interesting topic like Downtown Manhattan and make it uninteresting. The author jumps all over the place from history, architecture, geography, etc.. without bringing the whole story together. This book was a waste of time listening to basic facts about NYC most people already know!
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- Jack

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-17-2004
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio