Over the course of more than fifteen years, architect and critic Michael Sorkin has taken an almost daily twenty-minute walk from his apartment near Washington Square in New York's Greenwich Village to his architecture studio further downtown in Tribeca.
This walk has afforded abundant opportunities for Sorkin to reflect on the ongoing transformation of the neighbourhoods through which he passes.
Inspired by events both mundane and monumental, "Twenty Minutes in Manhattan" unearths a network of relationships between the physical and the social city.
Sorkin takes the reader past local characters, neighbourhood stores, buildings, streets and blocks, providing an informative, witty and sometimes humorous travelogue of a part of Manhattan.
Yet his perambulations fuel more than a general reflection on what he sees every day: they also offer a technique for engaging a wide range of issues that preoccupy him as an architect, urbanist and citizen. Whether Sorkin is despairing at street garbage, or admiring elevator etiquette, "Twenty Minutes in Manhattan" offers a testing ground for speculation about the way in which the city can be newly imagined and designed, to deal with pressing issues such as the crisis of the environment, free expression and public space, security and surveillance, the place of history, and the future of the neighbourhood. "Twenty Minutes in Manhattan", growing out of an intimate relationship with a much-loved locality, ultimately offers a grounded set of ideas relevant not only to the preservation and amelioration of New York, but also to cities everywhere.