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November 8, 2013

CCNY Sociologist’s 6,000-mile NYC Trek Yields Hit Book

Rave reviews over “The New York Nobody Knows” by William Helmreich

Four years, an astonishing 6,000 miles and nine pairs of shoes later, William Helmreich's long walkabout around the Big Apple is over. And the result is "The New York Nobody Knows" (Princeton Univ. Press, Oct. 2013), the City College of New York sociologist's 14th book that is being lauded by critics as the first sociological study of the city.

The 67-year-old, who also teaches at the Graduate Center, CUNY, walked nearly every block– some 120,000 of them – in the five boroughs, in all weather, in perhaps the most unique research methodology ever conceived.

Professor Helmreich calls the 456-page volume an "ethnographic study." He chronicles life in one of the most culturally diverse places in the world based on interviews with hundreds of New Yorkers. They are from every part of the globe, every walk of life and included the last four mayors.

Their stories, and his, are the subject of what's been hailed by its publishers as a captivating and highly original book.

Professor Helmreich finds that the city is as dynamic as ever, benefiting in large part from the influx of immigrants. He also cites the dramatic changes, both positive and negative, wrought by gentrification. Most interestingly, he assesses how people of different races, religions, and income statuses can coexist peacefully in "Balkan-like" communities. But chronic problems such as poverty, unemployment, and the lack of affordable housing continue to afflict many.

Reviewers love the book.

In the words of "New York Times" editor Sam Roberts, "The delight is definitely in the details. Professor Helmreich invites readers on a romp through largely unexplored neighborhoods that is as entertaining as it is enlightening,"

"This book is pure joy; even the most dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker will learn something new about this vibrant city," says the "Kirkus Review."

Richard Drezen of Library Journal calls it "a magisterial work" and "landmark achievement...highly recommended to sociologists, urban demographers, New York historians, and all walking enthusiasts in the city."

"What Baudelaire did for Paris, Helmreich's work promises for New York," says Yale University professor Elijah Anderson.

"I know of no other work comparable in scope," notes Alford A. Young, Jr., author and chairman, Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan.

A native New Yorker, Professor Helmreich's previous books include, "What Was I Thinking? The Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Them" (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2011). The book explored the well-known foibles of Martha Stewart, Bill Clinton, Britney Spears, Don Imus, Eliot Spitzer, Tiger Woods and Bernie Madoff, as well as common missteps like road rage, shoplifting and lying.

On the Internet:
About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin L. Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.

Set on a striking, 35-acre hilltop campus in upper Manhattan, CCNY has produced more Nobel laureates than any other public institution in the United States. The College has been touted as one of America's Top Colleges by Forbes, one of the Best Colleges in the United States as well as one of the Best Value Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks among U.S. News' top regional universities.

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