Sidewalk Critic: Lewis Mumford’s Writings on New York

Do you like reading snarky commentary about architecture in New York City? If yes, you’ll enjoy this collection of pieces originally published in the New Yorker as a “Sky Lines” column. “The chief question one should ask about a new building is not ‘Does it stand out?’ but ‘Does it fit in?'” Mumford walked the city during the 1930s and ripped apart or praised the construction work or plans he witnessed. He dubs the style of the new piers at Forty-eighth Street as “Funeral Parlor Modernique” and notes that after checking out the most popular restaurants in town the two most important ingredients are architectural bad taste and excessive use of the color red. He shreds the newly opened Frick Museum for setting up a traffic jam by roping off the galleries and forcing one-way passage through the building. He mostly approves of the new Cloisters museum, suggesting that it might be an experiment to get the public to prepare for the coming Dark Ages.
Overall, not terribly inspiring. Average writing, a bit tiresome snarkiness, mild sexism. I came across Mumford while reading The Last Intellectuals and wanted to sample some of his work. There might be better stuff he’s done, but I have satiated my curiosity about the man.