Richard Panchyk of Westbury can be a contender for title of Long Island’s most prolific author. His website lists 37 books with his byline, many of which are profusely illustrated titles dealing with Long Island and New York City history.
His History of Westbury came out in 2007, and he has followed up that tome with a unique take on his hometown.
Published in September by Arcadia through its America Through Time imprint, Westbury From Above starts a new series for Panchyk. In the introduction, he writes it “strives to capture history from a new angle, one that is seldom seen in the thousands of local history books currently on the market. It is appropriate that Westbury is the first book in the series, given its place in aviation history: the spot where Charles Lindbergh’s plane became airborne on its famous transatlantic voyage is in Westbury.”
One of the many tidbits of information he likes to drop in conversation is that Lindbergh used to visit the Meadowbrook Pharmacy on Post Avenue in Westbury to get his refreshments, and bedded down in town before his flight.
In his introduction, Panchyk goes on to write, “Drone technology has made possible the capturing of views from lesser altitudes, where more details can be captured and a greater sense of place can be established. What began as simply a fun way to see my town from a new perspective eventually turned into an idea to create something to share with other history enthusiasts.”
Asked what inspired the book, Panchyk replied, “When I found a treasure trove of 1920s and 1930s aerials of Long Island, which I would wind up using in my recently published book Long Island Aerials Through Time (August 2019), I realized just how much information an aerial perspective can offer. Aerial views can reveal secrets and historic trends that are not visible from ground level—things like how neighborhoods were settled. They can also put places into context with neighboring areas.”
Panchyk is a font of information, and his research often leads him to surprising new areas of inquiry.
The native of Elmhurst, Queens, resolved to be a writer early on. In his press release bio, it is noted that “He made his first sale, a four-page handwritten trivia booklet written on a folded piece of loose leaf paper in a runny blue ink, to a third-grade classmate for a nickel.”
In his day job, Panchyk works for an engineering firm in Manhattan as a writer and editor. He holds a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
He has written books for adults and kids on subjects as wide ranging as archaeology, Galileo, World War II, baseball, folklore, the Supreme Court and science.
His bio notes that his books “have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian and Portuguese.”
Not one to drop names, Panchyk has in the course of his writing interviewed such figures as Kurt Vonnegut, Rudy Giuliani, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Ken Starr, Mario Cuomo and Ralph Nader.
Among those who contributed forewords and introductions to his books were former President Bill Clinton, Senators John McCain, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the late Archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan, and his successor, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
In addition to the Westbury book, Panchyk’s 2019 output is impressive: Abandoned Queens (October 2019), Long Island Aerials Through Time (July), Abandoned Long Island (May), Nassau County Through Time (March) and Suffolk County Through Time (March)
Panchyk’s books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Visit www.panchyk.com.