No city has been written about more than New York. The city’s history and character have been examined from every angle, and still the subject attracts fresh interpretations. Whether the question is economics or culture, politics or sport, crime or transportation, New York offers unique and almost always intriguing answers. Wall Street has long symbolized America’s economic power, just as Broadway represents show business and Madison Avenue advertising. No other sports venues can rival Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium. And no other city produced a Robert Moses.
Any researcher tackling a New York City topic faces an embarrassment of riches, and the Lloyd Sealy Library provides a solid stepping off point. Our collection has several standard reference works, including the Encyclopedia of New York City, and volumes on specific historical, sociological, or political topics, not to mention criminal justice. The Library of Congress call number for New York City history is F128. Researchers should check the entire CUNY+ catalog, however, since other campuses have additional titles, and CUNY students can request books from any CUNY college.
Beyond CUNY, researchers have access to several of the finest libraries and archives to be found anywhere. All the collections listed here are generally open to the public, though several require a fee. While the hours are listed, it is a good idea to call ahead to confirm the details. It is often possible to speak with a librarian or archivist about specific research needs in advance of a visit. Quite often the library will have the requested materials waiting when you arrive.
Finally, there are many resources available for researchers investigating the contemporary metropolis. New York City maintains its own web site, and while much of the information is more public relations than rich content, several city agencies publish very good data online. The Landmarks Preservation Commission, for example, provides the current calendar as well as some designation reports; the Board of Elections has the results of recent elections.
Several current publications have web sites that address issues of the moment. Gotham Gazette, a publication of Citizens Union, collects recent newspaper articles and provides original essays and commentary. The Manhattan Institute publishes City Journal and offers a conservative perspective on urban affairs, while the Center for an Urban Future provides reports from a progressive perspective. The city’s daily newspapers are available online, and members of the John Jay community have access to recent articles in the Daily News, Newsday, and the Times through Lexis-Nexis. In addition the entire New York Times is available from 1851 through 2003 through the library’s home page.
Burnham, Alan. New York City, the development
of the metropolis: an annotated bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing,
Burrows, Edward, and Mike Wallace. Gotham:
a history of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press,
Cantwell, Anne-Marie E., and Diana diZerega Wall.
Unearthing Gotham : the archaeology of New York City. New Haven
: Yale University Press, 2001.
Diamondstein, Barbaralee. The Landmarks of
New York. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1988.
Goldstone, Harmon, and Martha Dalrymple. History
Preserved: a guide to New York City landmarks and historic districts.
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974.
Jackson, Kenneth T. Encyclopedia of New York
City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.
Kouwenhoven, John A. The Columbia Portrait
of New York, an essay in graphic history. New York: Harper &
Row, 1972 (1953).
Kroessler, Jeffrey A. New York, Year by Year:
a chronology of the great metropolis. New York: NYU Press. 2002.
New York City Dept. of City Planning. The
Newest New Yorkers 2000. New York: 2004.
Wells, James L., Louis F. Haffen, and Josiah
A. Briggs, editors. The Bronx and Its People, a History, 1609-1927.
New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., 1927.
Willensky, Elliot, and Norval White. The
AIA Guide to New York City.
The call number for works about New York City
is F128; look also in all of CUNY + to find volumes in other CUNY libraries.
The University Settlement Society
of New York City. Papers.
This filmed archive shows the role of the University Settlement Society in the movement to improve the quality of tenement life through social and recreational programs plus legislative reforms. It documents the Society's organization, development and activities from 1886 to 1945, as well as its participation in the international settlement house movement. The most extensive series in the collection contains the "headworkers" subject files and correspondence with public officials and notables. Their concerns vary from control of prostitution to abuse of child labor, from funding the Society's public bath attendants to keeping abreast of the Russian Revolution. Substantial biographical material on residents, staff and volunteers can be found through the collection. Special Collections, HV 4196.N6 U54. Published guide.
William H. Bell, (New York City Police
Officer, 1850-1851). Diary
The diary of this New York City police officer and Inspector of second-hand dealers and junk shops chronicles his activities which centered on inspecting junk shops and dealers in second-hand goods. He has an intimate knowledge of the city's slum districts, and of crime and poverty. The text is a straight-forward stream-of-consciousness reporting of his activities and impressions. An accompanied article by Sean Wilentz from the History Workshop Journal discusses the diary.
New York Daily News
New York Post
Staten Island Advance
New York Times
City of New York
Board of Elections
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
Department of Parks and Recreation
Center for an Urban Future
Citizens Budget Commission
The Manhattan Institute
Each of the following institutions is customarily
open to the public, though some charge admission, and others require an
Main Reading Room
Schomburg Center for Research in Black
Tues. through Sat., generally 10-6 (closed Sun.-Mon., call for hours of each department).
The New York State Library
New York City Municipal Archives
Mon. through Thurs. 9-4:30; Fri. 9-1.
The New-York Historical Society
Library: Tues. to Sat. 10-5 (closed Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day).
General admission $10; seniors, students, teachers $5.
The Bronx County Historical Society
Mon.- Fri. 9:30-4:30; call for appointment.
Brooklyn Historical Society
Open Wednesday-Sunday; Adults $6; Students with ID $4.
Brooklyn Public Library
Queens Borough Public Library
Mon. 10–9; Tues., Wed., Thurs. 10-7; Fri. 10–6; Sat. 10–5:30; Sun. 12-5 (Sept. –May).
La Guardia and Wagner Archives
Monday through Friday 10-4; call or write for an appointment.
Permission is granted for non-commercial
use of this publication with attribution.