New York New York by Richard Berenholtz, by James Tooley. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2014. 240 pp. $50 (hardcover).
A photograph Richard Berenholtz took on Fifth Avenue serves as a microcosm of his remarkable book New York New York. The worm’s-eye image features the sculpture of Atlas at Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral across the street, and the neighboring Olympic Tower (p. 51)—that is, a widely recognized work of art and a prominent church alongside a relatively inconspicuous Manhattan skyscraper.
Originally published in 2002, and reformatted in 2014 as a midsized book with several new images, New York New York is chock-full of Berenholtz’s multifaceted photographs of objects and scenes in the Big Apple. Berenholtz is a fourth-generation New Yorker and an architect turned professional photographer who has produced multiple books showcasing his photographs of the city, including one with an Art Deco theme. But New York New York is his best seller for good reasons.
“I love this city, from the smallest carving of an angel on a brownstone facade to the golden light reflecting off the glass wall of towering skyscrapers at sunrise, to the silhouetted miles of glittering skyline at dusk,” Berenholtz writes in his introduction, setting the tone for what is to come (p. 17). The book’s subjects range from an ornamental wrought iron railing at the Dakota apartment building (p. 141), to elaborately designed clocks on building exteriors that passers-by may overlook, to iconic structures such as the Empire State Building (pp. 29–31), to the Brooklyn Bridge (pp. 204–5)—conveying everything from minute details to massive monuments throughout the city.
Berenholtz devotes series of pages to images of celebrated structures and well-known places such as Grand Central Terminal and Central Park. Although these are common subjects for photographers and have been shot from every conceivable perspective, Berenholtz often manages to capture unique views of them. For example, his close-up photos of the Statue of Liberty—of her fingers, ears, and other body parts, right down to their rivets—are spectacular and unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere.
Among the many smaller structures in less-traveled settings captured in New York New York are the Bayard-Condict Building (pp. 138–39) on Bleecker Street, with its ornately sculpted parapet of angels and lion heads, and the quaint, flower-lined courtyard at Pomander Walk (p. 145), an Upper West Side apartment complex. One simple yet bold photo looks up at the Puck Building, a rich redbrick, seven-story structure on Lafayette Street with a dramatic, sage-green fire escape (pp. 132–33). . . .