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NEW YORK CITY - Manhattan Unfurled - Matteo Pericoli

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It is connected to what I do as an architect, the beauty of drawing a line. Every building has character; to draw it is like drawing a face, the things that give it soul. If you draw something, it is fixed in your mind forever, it is a miracle.

— Matteo Pericoli, author Manhattan Unfurled

Pericoli's drawing is at once monumental and gentle. In Percoli's fine lines every building seems benign, and together the buildings seem almost to be swaying softly in a chorus line along the Hudson.

— The New Yorker

Seen through his eyes, Manhattan takes on the quality of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, a place that seems in the complete grip of rationality until no one is looking, at which point all the buildings start kibitzing with one another.


In an object described as a book only because it folds up to fit inside hard covers, Mr. Pericoli has drawn a two-sided, architecturally precise representation of Manhattan's perimeter. His objectives are serious, but his draftsmanship has a charming playfulness as well. (Just look at the Hudson and East Rivers' jaunty waves.) Yes, the twin towers are forever preserved here, on the opening page.

— Los Angeles Times

Pericoli's lines have the delicacy of Mozart, but his masses have the suave rhythms of Ellington.

— from the introductory essay by Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-winner for Distinguished Criticism

This is such a cool book — really more a work of art — with a such an incredible backstory: 

Matteo Pericoli, who trained as an architect in Milan, came to New York City in 1995, just days before the biggest snowstorm of the decade. The sense of the city in its wake - especially the silence - remained in his mind. He experienced similar feeling taking photographs of Riverside Drive from the Circle Line ferry, and decided to transpose them into a line drawing.

Pericoli decided to draw all of Manhattan.

Well, almost. He drew the entire West Side of Manhattan, from Spuyten Duyvil to the Battery. Pericoli made a line drawing in black ink of the way the city looks from the Hudson River, and he did it on a single, thirty-seven-foot- long roll of white paper.

He started the drawing in May of 1998, working nights and weekends. Until he finished, a year later, he kept the paper rolled up on a table in his apartment, on the Upper West Side, exposing only a few feet at a time. He would draw six or seven blocks, then roll the paper forward, covering what he had just done. He worked like the scribes who write Torah scrolls by hand: he never erased, he never changed anything once he had done it, and he never looked back at his work after he finished a section. He did not see the entire drawing until it was completed.

The idea, he says, came to him when he was riding his bicycle to work through Riverside Park. “I saw all of these wonderful buildings on Riverside Drive that have such character, and I wanted to draw them,” he said. “At first, I thought I would only do a drawing of Riverside Drive. Then one day I decided to go on the Circle Line, and it was a revelation to me. It is the most democratic view -- what you see is what you get.” Pericoli realized that he would not be happy unless he drew it all, right down to the Battery.

He took two more trips on the Circle Line, standing on the deck and shooting a photograph of the Manhattan riverfront every six or seven blocks. Then, deciding that he needed a broader perspective, he traded in his bicycle for a motorcycle and started going across the river to shoot from up and down the New Jersey waterfront. In all, he took more than four hundred photographs before he was ready to start drawing. (From New Yorker article by Paul Goldberger. See Tidbits below for full story and others.)

More than two years, fifteen hundred buildings, and nineteen bridges later, the two 37-foot-long scrolls of the East and West Sides of the Manhattan skyline were completed. Manhattan Unfurled was published in 2001.

In this book version, Manhattan Unfurled comes to you in an elegant slipcase that contains a 24-panel, 22-foot-long accordion fold-out that displays the entire East and West Side in Pericoli's drawings, one on each side.

An essay about the Manhattan Unfurled drawings by Paul Goldberger — who the Huffington Post calls "the leading figure in architecture criticism", is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and former architecture critic for The New Yorker — accompanies the book in a separate pamphlet.

Isn't the Manhattan Unfurled backstory incredible?! Just wait until you see it!

In my mind's eye, I can just see Matteo unwinding the roll of paper to sketch memories from his most recent exploration along the Hudson. How exciting it must have been to see the progress each day of creating the skyline of Manhattan in your living room! 

Manhattan Unfurled is a one-of-a-kind creation and an entirely unique work of art. It also is a playful, yet eloquent, tribute to the historic and beloved Manhattan skyline.

If you love Manhattan, this gem is one to be cherished for a very long time!

And, if you like to travel and experience places in addition to New York City, whether in your imagination or in person, check out the Related Items below, as well as our Places Collection!



  • Condition: New in New, elegant slipcase. Sealed.
  • Edition: First Edition - Published October 1, 2001
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • ISBN-13: 9781416118893
  • Pages: 48
  • Rating:★★★★★ (See FAQs)
  • Matteo Pericoli was born in Milan, where he graduated from the Polytechnic School of Architecture. He moved to New York in 1995, where he has worked as an architect, illustrator, author, journalist, and teacher.

    From 1997 to 2000 he worked at the architectural firm Richard Meier & Partners as the project architect for the Jubilee Church in Rome.

    His drawings have been published in various newspapers and magazines, both in the US and in Europe—including, among others, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Observer, and La Stampa, for which he is a regular contributor. For over two years, his monthly column Finestra sull'Italia has appeared in Bell'Italia magazine. He has written for the Italian newspapers L'Unità and La Stampa.

    In 2007 he completed Skyline of the World, a 397-foot-long panoramic mural for American Airlines' new International Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

    He has taught architecture and illustration at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, NY, and is now living with his wife and daughter in Turin, Italy. He held a Visiting Professorship at the Polytechnic of Turin, Faculty of Architecture, where he worked on his latest projects on London and Turin, and where he teaches architecture to creative writing students at the Scuola Holden.

    In the Spring of 2013, Matteo held his "Laboratory of Literary Architecture" course at Columbia University, as a Mellon Visiting Artist. Other than in the US, his books have been published in the United Kingdom, Italy, South Korea, Taiwan, and China.

  • A New York Architect Invents a New Kind of River View  — The New Yorker

    Books in Brief: Manhattan Unfurled —The New York Times Book Review

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