Four Streets and a Square : A History of Manhattan & the New York Idea by Marc Aronson

Four Streets and a Square : A History of Manhattan & the New York Idea by Marc Aronson. Candlewick Press, 2022. 9780763651374

Rating : 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review): 4.5

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book? More than 400 years of the history of Manhattan is covered in a well-organized, well-researched and expansive text that reveals the structures that have made New York the center for innovations and struggles, which have in turn, impacted the entire nation and the world. Students in grade 6 up will find this an excellent look at how the creation of each of the four streets and the square not only changed the physical landscape, but often deliberately created, supported or attempted to erase the many communities that called or desired to call New York home. The book is broken into five sections, each with their own good time line and with prompts to articles and online resources beyond the text. Each section examines how the struggles, movement, and interactions between waves of immigration led to the building of the streets and how these streets became a well-woven basket for holding so much conflict, creativity, and diversity. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? Perhaps there was a bit too much use of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr’s political philosophies (​​both very important New Yorkers)  as a recurring unresolved / unresolvable echo that played a part in shaping many city conflicts. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  Anyone interested in the history of NYC, but especially Young Adults. 

Who should buy this book? Most large middle school and high school libraries but especially those in the Northeast. 

Where would you shelve it?  974.71

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Stephanie Wolflink, former head of children’s services, Winchester Public Library, MA. 

Date of review: February 14, 2022

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