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Book Review: Secret New York: An Unusual Guide by T.M. Rives

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Secret New York by T.M. Rives is a new travel guide from the folks at Jonglez Publishing that is great for anyone looking to discover some of the obscure and often way off-the-beaten path destinations in the city.

By focusing on the more arcane aspects of New York, it occupies a special niche in the guide book market.

One of the things that I love about this book is that, with more than 200 entries from all five boroughs, even a lifelong New Yorker can find things about their hometown that they didn’t know about. From a memorial plaque to an event that happened in another dimension to a church where one can get their bicycle blessed, this guide offers an abundance of interesting options to visit.

I also like the fact that this book does just list each of the options; it provides insight into it. For example, with the Harlem Fire Watchtower, the author starts by explaining what some of the locals think the site used to be (a military post, slave market, or lighthouse) and then continues to explain the history of why fire watchtowers used to exist across New York City in the early 19th century and how this is the only one that is left.

The only thing that I didn’t like about this guide book is that it has too strong of an emphasis on Manhattan, in my opinion. In total, 327 of its 429 pages are devoted strictly to Manhattan. This leaves the remaining 102 pages for the other four boroughs and an index. I think the author should have found a few more destinations to include in rest of New York.

Regardless, this is still a great guide book.

It stirred a desire in me to explore New York and that, in my opinion, is always the sign of a well-done guide.

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About Frank Nemecek

Freelance writing, indie filmmaker, and all around pain in the...