Want to Learn About NYC? Avoid the Internet

Brooke Niemeyer

New York City is one of the most fascinating and culturally rich cities in the world. With all the details and history of this vibrant metropolis, Kenneth T. Jackson feels it is essential to have a compilation of credible information about the city for people to reference. So he helped create one, “The Encyclopedia of New York City.”

Jackson edited the book's second edition, which was released last month.

“The Internet, whether it’s Wikipedia or Google, has killed reference books around the country,” Jackson said last night at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. “Even the Encyclopedia Britannica is no longer in physical form. But with this, you can turn to any page and learn things you didn’t know about New York City and know it’s all true. You can’t do that with the Internet.”

The second edition has over 5,000 entries and 700 illustrations. Jackson says that even though it is called an encyclopedia, it should be on coffee tables in homes, not just on a shelf in a library.

“The idea is to reach a general public with this book,” Jackson said. “Not just to reach a specialized library reference audience.”

Jackson, who is also a professor at Columbia University, was part of the team that released the original edition of it in 1995. He says the editors saw that New York City has changed in many ways since then, from the World Trade Center no longer being a part of the city skyline to the implementing of the E-Z subway pass, all of which are reflected in the second edition.

“I think there’s more information about one city between the two covers of this book than any book on any other city in the history of the world,” Jackson said.

With all the information Jackson learned about New York City during his research, he says there was one thing that surprised him the most.

“I was surprised that New York was the oyster capital,” Jackson said. “I found out that half of all oysters in the world are brought in from the New York Harbor. I think that’s surprising.”

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