Measure Of Manhattan,the: The Tumultuous Career And Surprising Legacy Of John Randel Jr by Marguerite HollowayMeasure Of Manhattan,the: The Tumultuous Career And Surprising Legacy Of John Randel Jr by Marguerite Holloway

Measure Of Manhattan,the: The Tumultuous Career And Surprising Legacy Of John Randel Jr

byMarguerite Holloway

Paperback | February 25, 2014

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John Randel Jr. (1787–1865) was an eccentric and flamboyant surveyor. Renowned for his inventiveness as well as for his bombast and irascibility, Randel was central to Manhattan’s development but died in financial ruin. Telling Randel’s engrossing and dramatic life story for the first time, this eye-opening biography introduces an unheralded pioneer of American engineering and mapmaking.

Charged with “gridding” what was then an undeveloped, hilly island, Randel recorded the contours of Manhattan down to the rocks on its shores. He was obsessed with accuracy and steeped in the values of the Enlightenment, in which math and science promised dominion over nature. The result was a series of maps, astonishing in their detail and precision, which undergird our knowledge about the island today. During his varied career Randel created surveying devices, designed an early elevated subway, and proposed a controversial alternative route for the Erie Canal—winning him admirers and enemies.

The Measure of Manhattan is more than just the life of an unrecognized engineer. It is about the ways in which surveying and cartography changed the ground beneath our feet. Bringing Randel’s story into the present, Holloway travels with contemporary surveyors and scientists trying to envision Manhattan as a wild island once again. Illustrated with dozens of historical images and antique maps, The Measure of Manhattan is an absorbing story of a fascinating man that captures the era when Manhattan—indeed, the entire country—still seemed new, the moment before canals and railroads helped draw a grid across the American landscape.

Marguerite Holloway, the director of Science and Environmental Journalism at Columbia University, has written for Scientific American, Discover, the New York Times, Natural History, and Wired. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
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Title:Measure Of Manhattan,the: The Tumultuous Career And Surprising Legacy Of John Randel JrFormat:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.87 inPublished:February 25, 2014Publisher:WW NortonLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0393347907

ISBN - 13:9780393347906

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Reviews

Editorial Reviews

““[Holloway] deftly weaves surviving fragments of Randel’s life . . . with a 21st century scavenger hunt by modern geographers to find the physical markers of his work.” — New York Times“In gracefully efficient prose, Marguerite Holloway, who heads Columbia University’s Science and Environmental Journalism program, gives the reader a vivid sense of the challenges facing Randel, the social context that informed his epic undertaking, and the will and ingenuity that he brought to the task…an enlightening ode to a man who made sense of a budding metropolis.” — Kevin Canfield (The Daily Beast)“A far more intimate experience than going to the museum.” — Village Voice“This outstanding history of the Manhattan grid offers us a strange archaeology: part spatial adventure, part technical expedition into the heart of measurement itself. . . . . Marguerite Holloway’s engaging survey takes us step by step through the challenges of obsolete land laws and outdated maps of an earlier metropolis, looking for—and finding—the future shape of this immeasurable city.” — Geoff Manaugh (BLDGBLOG)