When the original Encyclopedia of New York City appeared in 1995, the short entry for “World Trade Center” focused on architecture and construction. It reads differently in the encyclopedia’s recently released second edition, where the topic stretches across several pages and directs readers to the entry for “September 11.”
That isn’t the only depressing update. There is the new entry for “Counter-Terrorism,” an innocuous-sounding term used to justify warrantless wiretapping and invasive searches of innocent New Yorkers. There’s also an entry for “Abner Louima,” who received the largest police brutality settlement in the city’s history.
Featuring more than 5,000 entries written by more than 800 authors on topics ranging from “Andy Warhol” to “Wall Street,” The Encyclopedia of New York City (Yale) is a handy reference for virtually every aspect of the city that never sleeps. It’s also a sobering reminder of the ways abusive government power is intimately intertwined with America’s signature city.