The Alienist Movie & Press Page Updates

One of the most frequent questions that brings visitors to 17th Street is whether The Alienist will ever be made into a movie. To help address this question, I’ve now added a page detailing the long and complicated history of The Alienist movie as best as I have been able to make it out on the basis of past interviews with the author. Interested visitors can view The Alienist movie page in the Alienist books section of the site.

In addition, I have added a large number of opinion pieces, book reviews, columns, and academic journal articles written by Caleb Carr to the press page. As always, if you know of any other articles written by or about Caleb Carr that you think should be included on the press page, please feel free to let me know.


Did Dr. Kreizler really live at 283 East 17th Street? Part Four

View Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four of the Did Dr. Kreizler really live at 283 East 17th Street? series.

Welcome to the fourth and final part of the “Did Dr. Kreizler really live at 283 East 17th Street?” series. Over the course of this series, we’ve overviewed the origins of Stuyvesant Square from its earliest days through to the 1840s (Part One), read about the district’s most active period of development in the 1850s through to the early 1880s (Part Two), and learnt more about the enormous influence one reforming rector at St. George’s Church had on the district in the late 1880s and 1890s (Part Three). In this final blog of the series, we will be discussing why Caleb Carr might have selected the location as the home for his protagonist before briefly touching on how the district continued to develop in the early 20th century.

Why might Caleb Carr have chosen 283 East 17th Street as Dr. Kreizler’s residence?

1891-westI feel it’s important to start this blog by stating the obvious: as I am not the author, I can only hypothesize as to why he may have chosen the fictional address of 283 East 17th Street as the home for his protagonist–and, yes, it is a fictional address. As can be seen in the 1891 maps of the district to the right and below, the section of 17th Street overlooking the park that was described as the location for Doctor’s home is bisected by Second Avenue. On the western side of Second Avenue, lot numbers ended at No. 251 (originally the Hamilton Fish mansion, later turned New York Lying-In Hospital; see below), while on the eastern side of Second Avenue, lot numbers started again at No. 301. Nevertheless, by examining the district’s composition in the 1890s, as well as overviewing the proximity of the neighborhood to other locations of importance in the Alienist books, we can start to theorize about why Caleb Carr might have selected the location. In addition, as Mr. Carr had his own connections to the district in his youth, it seems likely that this may have also played a role in his choice of Stuyvesant Square as the Doctor’s home. | Continue reading →

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Did Dr. Kreizler really live at 283 East 17th Street? Part Three

View Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four of the Did Dr. Kreizler really live at 283 East 17th Street? series.

Welcome to Part Three of the “Did Dr. Kreizler really live at 283 East 17th Street?” series. In Part One, we overviewed the early development of Stuyvesant Square from its rural origins to the start of construction in the district in the 1840s. In Part Two, we overviewed the greatest periods of growth in the district, the 1850s to early 1880s, and learnt about the first owner-occupants of the houses in the neighborhood, many of whom were successful merchants, along with the tenants of the district’s first apartment houses who were predominantly writers and theater people. In Part Three, we will learn more about Stuyvesant Square as it was during the critical periods for Alienist books, the 1880s and 1890s, and will focus our attention on some of the most prominent characters that contributed to the shaping of the district’s character during this period.

Stuyvesant Square’s fall from grace in the early 1880s

Even though the architectural charm of Stuyvesant Square had been established thirty years earlier with the building of handsome residential and religious buildings around the district’s attractively landscaped public park, by the early 1880s the district was becoming a shadow of its former self. Tenement populations were now encroaching on the neighborhood, and the district’s wealthier residents had begun to move further uptown in response. Although the park itself was still frequented by neighborhood children, the neglected park’s grass was no longer receiving any maintenance, its flowers had all but disappeared, and its two large fountains were filled with rubbish from the streets rather than water. One contemporary even recalled seeing “dead cats and empty tomato cans” piled in the fountain basins.

At the same time, the district’s iconic St. George’s Episcopal Church that had once drawn some of the largest congregation numbers of any religious institution in New York was also in the process of an equally sharp decline. Congregation numbers had started to fall while under the pastorship of the aging Rev. Dr. Tying in the early 1870s, and numbers had dropped still further following his death. During this period, St. George’s was funded by pew holders, of which there were few remaining due to the wealthy parishioners migrating uptown, and had accumulated $35,000 in floating debt. The financial situation had reached such a precarious point by the late 1870s that there were even reports that the Roman Catholic Church had been approached by members of the vestry to take the church over as a mission. Although members of St. George’s had tried on several occasions to build their numbers up through outreach to the poor, all attempts had been unsuccessful and were eventually abandoned.

When St. George’s attendance numbers reached their bleakest point in the early 1880s, the extremely conservative wardens and vestrymen of the church made a radical decision to approach the passionate reformer, the Rev. Dr. William S. Rainsford, to take over pastorship of the church. Although a surprising choice for an old-fashioned church, this decision would prove to not only turn around the fortune of the failing church but would help to shape the character of the district as a whole in the years to come. | Continue reading →

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Paperback release of The Legend of Broken

The Legend of BrokenI’m taking a brief break from the current blog series because the trade paperback of Caleb Carr’s latest novel, The Legend of Broken, has been released today. The US paperback has the same cover design as the hardcover, while the international paperback has a new cover design (shown to the right) that is extremely similar to the e-book released last year. The paperback also contains a new cast of main characters list with pronunciation guide that wasn’t included in the hardcover. Very handy!

If you haven’t already given The Legend of Broken a go, I highly recommend it. For more information about the novel, you can view my thoughts in my original blog post from earlier in the year, and I have included a few comments below from The Washington Post’s review of the novel that I think provides a reasonably good overview of the work. You can also listen to an interview Caleb Carr gave about the novel at the WAMC Radio Book Show website, or watch a talk and Q&A that he gave at a book signing for the novel last year.

The Legend of Broken has also been released in audiobook format by Simon & Schuster Audio, read by George Guidall and Tim Gerard Reynolds. You can read a comprehensive review of the audiobook at Dab of Darkness.

The Washington Post:

Set circa 745 A.D., during Europe’s Dark Ages, “The Legend of Broken” straddles the line between epic fantasy and alternate history … an excellent and old-fashioned entertainment that evolves into a clever discourse on the history and development of modern warfare. Best known for novels like “The Alienist” and “The Angel of Darkness,” Carr is also a noted military historian. “The Legend of Broken” has none of the fin-de-siecle trappings that distinguished his earlier novels, but his gift for integrating historical detail with lurid spectacle rivals those on display in the much-missed BBC/HBO series “Rome.” … Carr’s depiction of 8th-century Europe as a gallimaufry of religions, superstitions, science and cultural tradition is marvelous: His Dark Ages contain incandescent flashes of insight into an era that itself is often resigned to a mere footnote … At its best, “The Legend of Broken” seamlessly blends epic adventure with serious research and asks questions that men and women grappled with in the Dark Ages and still do today.

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