Let’s play a little round of New York City trivia. Did you know that there used to be elevated trains running along Bowery and 6th Avenue? Or that SoHo, currently an expensive area filled with shops and trendy restaurants, used to be one of Manhattan’s red light districts? Oh, or that there was a giant water reservoir where the New York Public Library currently stands?
These are all things I first discovered through fictional stories set in New York of the past. Despite having lived here for years, I’m not immune to the city’s (unique) charm, which seems to naturally encourage imagining how it appeared in bygone eras. Considering the city’s popularity—both in reality and in media of all forms—I know I’m not alone.
Luckily, there’s a whole slate of historical fiction set in New York which helps my fascination and imagination run wild. For anyone who shares a love for the city, and has an interest in getting a little dose of its history, here’s a list of books to get started.