5 NYC eras to witness in books and movies in New York

1) History and origins of Manhattan

Forever by Pete Hamill takes you through Manhattan’s earliest days to the present, with an imaginative tale of a man who is graced with the ability to live forever; Burr by Gore Vidal paints a portrait of the early city and its political dramas; Manahatta by Eric Sanderson illustrates the city’s wild, natural beginnings.

2) 50s, 60s, 70s dynamics

Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir of her friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, paints an accurate picture of Soho’s artist beginnings and subculture of Manhattan; Sleeping with Bad Boys by Alice Denham, is an aspiring writer’s tell-all of her trysts with the famous in the 1950s. Movies Taxi Driver and Rosemary’s Baby capture the ultra gritty 60s and 70s city.


More hidden secrets of New York?

This guide, written by a true local, takes you to 500 wonderful places to eat, drink, sleep, discover and enjoy in New York. Available in our bookshop now.

Buy the book or ebook

3) Reliving the 1980s-1990s

Desperately Seeking Susan, American Psycho, and Do the Right Thing are three films depicting NYC in the scene-changing eighties – pitching class and race and anti-establishment groups against each other. Killing Williamsburg by Bradley Spinelli captures the days of a 1990s gentrifying Williamsburg which is also going through an eerie suicide spree.

4) Back to the 1800s

Hester Street, a movie that tells the story of a Jewish family who immigrated to the Lower East Side and how they ultimately assimilated; Time And Again is the classic time-travel tale by Jack Finney whose story takes place at The Dakota and on Gramercy Park – a mystery and moving love story.

5) Through the eyes of Woody Allen

Witness this artist’s romance with the city. Manhattan is brilliant in its black-and-white cinematography, showing viewpoints and scenes from 1979. Annie Hall, out in 1977, highlights NYC vs LA attitudes. Manhattan Murder Mystery is a great slice of life focused on two couples who suspect their neighbor has murdered his wife, circa 1993.

Join the community

Sign up for free to gain unlimited access to the website. Plus, you'll receive a 10% discount in our online bookshop.

Sign up