Saturday, December 29, 2012


Joe McKendry's One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World is on the Publishers Weekly Best Books 2012 list, in the children's nonfiction category.

What, I wondered, does McKendry say about American Indians? Are we part of his narrative?

I'll have to get to the library and read the whole book, but here's what I see using Google Books:
Today's Times Square sits on land once owned by Medcef Eden, a brewer-turned-farmer whose seventy-acre farm covered much of the area in the early 1800s.
That'd be an easy place for McKendry to say who owned that land prior to Medcef Eden, wouldn't it?  A few pages later, McKendry shows us some ironworkers laying steel beams:

The text suggests these ironworkers are working on the Paramount Building, completed in 1926. He doesn't tell us anything about the workers themselves. Maybe he meant some of them to be Mohawk. Maybe he didn't. Either way, he could have included a sidebar about the Mohawk ironworkers who have been building those skyscrapers since the late 1800s. If you want to know more about the Mohawk ironworkers, the National Museum of the American Indian has a peek at an exhibit, and Time has a photoessay of Mohawk ironworkers.

I'll let you know when I get a copy and see the whole thing. I think I'm really going to like McKendry's artistry, but I also think I'll walk away from it wishing it was more comprehensive with regard to Native peoples. McKendry's attention to detail is astounding. You can see some of the art at his website. I'm guessing it isn't meant to be a social history, but he does include information about some people... Charles Thorley is one; Oscar Hammerstein is another.

More later...

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