The takeaway from Wallace’s Greater Gotham is that New York City was big, plenty big. His story begins with a detailed and persuasive account of the late nineteenth-century consolidation of the city and ends in 1919, with a metropolis bursting with energy, wealth, and prospects.

This book’s predecessor, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (New York, 2000), written by Wallace and Edwin G. Burrows, covered 289 years, ending with a successful outcome of the referendum that united Manhattan with the East Bronx, Brooklyn, western Queens County, and Staten Island on January 1, 1898. Wallace and Burrows argued that the very fact of consolidation “would be the key to the new century’s first decades” (Gotham, 1, 235). The wealthy and powerful men who supported consolidation re-appear in Greater Gotham to play a dominant role in the new world of opportunities opened by the overwhelming “yes” vote...

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