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Knickerbocker The Myth behind New York by Elizabeth L. Bradley

Knickerbocker The Myth behind New York


Knickerbocker The Myth behind New York by Elizabeth L. Bradley

Deep within New York's compelling, sprawling history lives an odd, ornery Manhattan native named Diedrich Knickerbocker. The name may be familiar today: his story gave rise to generations of popular tributes - from a beer brand to a basketball team and more - but Knickerbocker himself has been forgotten. In fact, he was New York's first truly homegrown chronicler, and as a descendant of the Dutch settlers, he singlehandedly tried to reclaim the city for the Dutch. Almost singlehandedly, that is. Diedrich Knickerbocker was created in 1809 by a young Washington Irving, who used the character to narrate his classic satire, A History of New York. According to Irving's partisan narrator, everything good and distinctive, proud and powerful, about New York City - from the doughnuts to the twisting streets of lower Manhattan - could be traced back to New Amsterdam. This book features a terrific general interest, cultural history of a city with a rich and lively literary past. This is the first-ever book on the eponymous myth that has informed New York City culture since the early 1800s. It also coincides with the two-hundredth anniversary of Washington Irving's publication of A History of New York. It is a perfect gift book or addition to library collection of New York City - themed books. It includes a gallery of images that brings Diedrich Knickerbocker, his myth, time, and place to life.


Those who puzzle at the incessant branding and rebranding of New York City would do well to read this fascinating, sophisticated, and witty social history of a myth. Bradley knows her facts and shrewdly and convincingly interprets them. A delightful contribution to urban studies. - Phillip Lopate, author of Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan Knickerbocker is a storied name steeped in tradition - one that I am proud to have been a part of. Bradley's Knickerbocker: The Myth Behind New York offers a unique examination of how a name familiarized by Washington Irving two hundred years ago grew to become a cultural symbol of New York. - Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley

About the Author

Elizabeth L. Bradley is the Senior Director of Programs and Engagement at Historic Hudson Valley. She is the author of Cityscopes: New York and has edited several volumes of Washington Irving's work. Dr. Bradley has written for The New York Times,, Salon, and McSweeney's, among other publications.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th June 2009


Elizabeth L. Bradley

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Rutgers University Press


192 pages


Social & cultural history



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