The effort to celebrate New York in view of the September 11 disaster that has engulfed the city makes a new series of different books all the more interesting and important. Three have been published in attractive editions by Fordham University Press.

The glories of the great Central Park are reflected in CENTRAL PARK: A PHOTOGRAPHIC EXCURSION, a collection of more than 250 remarkable photographs by James Freund, who is a native New Yorker and an attorney. The book springs from an exhibit called "A Park for All Seasons," presented in April, 2000, at the Arsenal Gallery. In both color and black and white, the photographs reflect Freund's prowling throughout the park to turn his perceptive view on places and people at various times of the year.

Whether focusing on a mother swan and her cygnets, children having a good time in a playground, or renowned park statues, Freund makes us appreciate anew all Central Park has to offer. The pictures are accompanied by intelligent texts explaining Freund's choices and his approach to a particular shot. The book, especially in hardcover, makes a swell gift for New Yorkers and others with a fascination for the city and urban life in general. (Fordham University Press, 144 pages, $35 hardcover, $20 paper.)

Patrick Bunyan's ALL AROUND THE TOWN: AMAZING MANHATTAN FACTS AND CURIOSITIES is filled with black and white photos and information about various parts of the city. The author, an historian and photo librarian, has collected over 150 photographs and illustrations, most of them rarely seen. He has divided the material into various sections of the city, with his text describing each area's importance and providing key information about events that give the area further distinction.

For example, in the Greenwich Village section, Bunyan uses an illustration marking the founding of the Brooks Brothers clothing store in 1818 on the northeast corner of Cherry and Catharine streets. Under Christopher Street, he cites the Stonewall Inn and describes the police harassment raid on the gay bar and the Stonewall Rebellion that is commemorated annually in the Gay Pride March.

The book is a treasure trove of information about New York City, from important facts to trivia. (Fordham University Press, 376 pages, $35 hardcover, $19.95 paper.)

Another timely book is A SHORT AND REMARKABLE HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY by Jane Mushabac and Angela Wigan, with illustrations culled from the Museum of the City of New York. The authors cover five centuries of New York history, which makes the book valuable as a reference guide as well as an informative read.

Starting with 1500, when the native Americans were already here, the book moves to 1524 with the arrival of Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazano, described as "the first known European to sight and describe the Hudson river and the surrounding land." The authors follow the history of the city through 1998 with easy to read highlights. Of course, any future updating would have to include Sept. 11, 2001. UPDATE NOTE: A new edition does included a reference to the Trade Towers tragedy. (Fordham University Press, 128 pages, $35 hardcover, $17.50 paper.)

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