The road to all things Broadway can be found in architect Fran Leadon’s “Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles”

They say the neon light are bright on Broadway. But Manhattan’s “Broadway” is much more than flashing marquees and glitzy shops. It is a 13-mile street stretch that runs from State Street at Bowling Green through the borough of Manhattan. (There’s 2 miles through the Bronx, exiting north from the city to run an additional 18 miles through the municipalities of Yonkers, Hastings-On-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and Tarrytown, and terminating north of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.
Broadway is the oldest north–south main thoroughfare in New York City, dating to the first New Amsterdam settlement, although most of it did not bear its current name until the late 19th century. The name Broadway is the English language literal translation of the Dutch name, Brede weg.

The road to all things Broadway can be found in architect Fran Leadon’s Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles (W.W. Norton, $35).

Broadway takes us on a mile-by-mile journey that traces the gradual evolution of the 17th-century’s Brede Weg, a muddy cow path in a backwater Dutch settlement, to the 20th-century’s Great White Way. We learn why one side of the street was once considered more fashionable than the other. We witness construction of the Ansonia Apartments, Trinity Church, and the Flatiron Building and the burning of P.T. Barnum’s American Museum. We discover that Columbia University was built on the site of an insane asylum.
Library of Congress
Our fave Broadway site: the Flatiron Building, way back when
Along the way we meet Alexander Hamilton; Edgar Allen Poe; John James Audubon; Emma Goldman; “Bill the Butcher” Poole; “Texas” Guinan, and the assorted real estate speculators, impresarios, and politicians who helped turn Broadway into a living paradigm of American progress, at its best and worst. With maps and more than 75 black-and-white photos throughout, Broadway tells the vivid story of what is arguably the world most famous thoroughfare.

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