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Best nonfiction books about New York City

  1. The Encyclopedia of New York City, by Kenneth T. Jackson et al.
    Simply the most comprehensive overview of the city’s history—its neighborhoods, politicians, fires, bridges, and on and on.
  2. Up in the Old Hotel, by Joseph Mitchell
    These classic long-form pieces about people and places on the New York waterfront maintain a perfect balance between elegance and eccentricity.
  3. Kill All Your Darlings, by Luc Sante
    Not even half of these pieces of cultural criticism are about New York, but the personal essays that capture the Low Life author’s experiences in the '70s and '80s make most other writing about the East Village’s supposed heyday look weak.
  4. The Power Broker, by Robert A. Caro
    This classic doorstop captures the career of Robert Moses, one of the city’s most zealous and powerful urban planners.
  5. Gone to New York, by Ian Frazier
    Whether he’s poking his head in antiquated shops or raging at deli bags stuck in trees, this perceptive and comic author reveals that the city still has a few peculiar nooks and crannies left.
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