Author, Book review, Horst Hamman, New York, Non-fiction, Publisher, Setting, teNeues Publishing, travel

‘New York Vertical’ by Horst Hamman (photographer)


Non-Fiction – hardcover; teNeues Publishing; 192 pages; 2004.

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” So wrote Thomas Wolfe.

And I agree.

I admit I have a soft spot for New York. Until last May I had never been. I loved it so much I returned again less than six months later.

There is no doubt that New York is special. But what makes it special is harder to define.

For me it is the buildings and the sheer vertical nature of the cityscape with its never-ending canyon-like avenues. How could an architecture-buff not be mesmerised by the size and shape and design of so many varied and interesting skyscrapers residing on one small urban island?

New York Vertical, a project of love by German-born photographer Horst Hamman, captures the beauty of Manhattan’s buildings in a series of stunning black and white photographs taken on an ancient Technorama camera with a 90mm fixed lens. By all accounts taking the photographs was no mean feat — the camera’s viewfinder makes it technically impossible to see the whole picture at once. Guess work, a steady eye and a lot of faith all come into play. A propensity to balance precariously on window ledges also helped, as did a lot of patience, waiting for the exact lighting conditions to appear. Is it any wonder the project took four years to complete?

The 66 photographs in this book, which include everything from the iconic Statue of Liberty and Chrysler Building to the less well known Whitehall Building, are complemented by colourful quotes about the city made by the famous and not so famous. There’s also a handy ‘key’ at the back of the book which provides architectural information about each building as well as a basic map.

All in all, this is a lovely photographic book, a fitting tribute to an amazing city and the perfect souvenir of a treasured visit.

Note this book comes in two sizes: an easy-to-carry format (4.1 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches) and a ‘mega’ coffee-table format.

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