The following is a list of books and other sources I have read or referred to thus far (there will be others I am sure) in putting together my thoughts on this site.
The WPA Guide To New York City: The Federal Writers Project Guide to 1930’s New York — Referred to as the Guide throughout this site, this book provides historical (which, for Cushman, was more current) information about the city. As pointed out in various Then and Now shots, it is apparent that he had excerpts of the Guide in mind when he composed his shot.
New York City Borough of Manhattan Yellow Pages (1930s and 1940s)– Many of Cushman’s shots give general but not precise descriptions as to location (e.g., the Lower East Side). Fortunately, in some of his shots the names of businesses can be seen and the Yellow Pages made it possible to pinpoint the location.
Manhattan 1930 Land Book (from historicmapworks.com) — The Land Book provides a highly detailed block-by-block map of Manhattan that made it possible to confirm several Cushman shots of buildings/blocks that no longer exist.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs (1961), Vintage Books Edition (1992) — No matter what city I have visited or lived in there are always areas that I find interesting and lively and areas that are drab, dull, boring, or depressing. But I never really thought about why this was. This book provided me with the answer. Jacobs does an outstanding job of challenging the urban planning that took place in the larger American cities starting in the 1930s and that continues to this day. In a nutshell, she identifies the basic elements that make up a vibrant, interesting neighborhood (e.g., where she lived for many years — Greenwich Village). And she proves that where these elements are lacking, cities are left with boring, oftentimes unsafe, dead areas. At the end of the day, she rejects what she refers to centralized utopian urban planning. If you live in a city and like the area you live in or you hate it, I strongly recommend reading this book.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, Robert A. Caro, Vintage Books Edition (1975) — Probably the longest, most dense book that I have ever read cover-to-cover, and absolutely one of the best. Robert Caro does a grand job of explaining how Robert Moses left his mark (many and significant) on New York City and state and, moreover, how Moses acquired the power to do so. It’s odd to me that Caro makes no reference in his book to Jane Jacobs because he certainly describes the havoc that can be wrought upon city neighborhoods by urban planners be it through so-called slum clearance, traffic arteries, or parks.
Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York Photographs– Berenice Abbott was a professional photographer who took a series of black and white photographs of New York City during the 1930’s as part of the New Deal Work Projects Administration/Federal Art Project. In my opinion, a couple of Cushman shots were most likely inspired by a few of her photographs — as pointed out on the site.
AIA Guide to New York City (5th Ed.) — A detailed documentation of nearly every structure of note in New York City.