A Tale of Two Cities

Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

A 1934 photomontage of the Normandie

Forget Athens and Sparta, Sodom and Gomorrah, Dallas and Fort Worth. Of all the cities whose destinies have been twinned for one reason or another, few can match the intensity of the love-hate relationship between Paris and New York. For much of the past century, the City of Light and the City That Never Sleeps have competed feverishly for leadership in culture, couture and coolness, even as they freely exchanged influences and expatriates.

Nowhere has that fond rivalry been more evident than in the field of design. "Paris/New York," a dense, imaginative...

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