Some people may mistakenly overlook this book because of the novelty of its central idea--upending a panoramic camera to shoot New York City vertically. But veteran photographer Horst Hamann's pictures have nothing gimmicky about them; in fact, like Berenice Abbott's, they seem destined for New York City photo immortality. The pictures are beautifully controlled--in vision, in camera technique, and in printing. What's more, Hamann bends the city to his vision of light, air, and geometry. A shot of the Statue of Liberty's right arm, holding the lamp aloft, is a masterwork of composition and care. It's as if Hamann somehow arranged for the sea below to darken in precisely the same gradations as the Lady's stately arm. Compare it to a dizzying picture of one of the Chrysler Building's shiny eagle heads, or a serene moment among the hosta lilies in Trinity Church cemetery for a grasp of Hamann's range.
Each photograph is paired with a quotation on the opposite page, such as Walt Whitman's "The beautiful city, the city of hurried and sparkling waters!" or former mayor James J. Walker's quip, "I'd rather be a lamppost in New York than Mayor of Chicago." The back of the book contains information on the places in the photographs. On a shelf of New York books, this one might take its place next to Paul Goldberger's classic, The City Observed, as a fresh example of how New York's stone, steel, and glass architectural icons are reinvented with each new visionary. --Peggy Moorman