Book Review: “All The Buildings in New York: That I’ve Drawn So Far”

New Yorkers tend to forget—or should we say take for granted—how impressive the city actually is. Everywhere you look, notable architecture (read: massive skyscrapers) blend together with the brownstones, rowhouses, and tenements of the residential districts to form a melting pot that is distinctly New York. From Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram building to William Van Alen’s Chrysler building to Frank Gehry’s IAC building, the city’s architecture is nothing less than profoundly remarkable—and somewhat imposing, at least to non-city folk. (Let’s not forget: The city has always been headquarters to many of the world’s best architecture firms.)

And in his book of more than 500 drawings, All the Buildings in New York: That I’ve Drawn So Far, James Gulliver Hancock takes us on a personal tour of how he takes it all in. An Australian native, Hancock’s picture book began in 2010 as a blog where he would draw various city landmarks and buildings as a way to familiarize himself with his new environment, trying to capture the many clichés of New York City immortalized in a plethora of films and television shows. Many city attractions like Wall Street, Grand Central Terminal, and The New York Botanical Gardens are sketched with indelible charm and include facts like the architects’ names, dates of completion, and even the building cost. Along with these tourist attractions are other buildings and even whole city blocks that take the reader from a noodle shop in Chinatown to the brownstones of Brooklyn. “It is the ordinary buildings, spilling with hectic daily life, that hold real New York life and passion,” the 35-year-old artist and illustrator, who is now back in his native Sydney, says in the introduction.

If you’re not from New York and are looking to visit the city with your children, all you need is this delightful collection of images to guide you through New York’s small and large wonders. —Barry Samaha (@barry_samaha)

All the Buildings in New York: That I’ve Drawn So Far by James Gulliver Hancock is published by Universe Press and will be released tomorrow.