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Cityscapes of Boston: An American City through Time

By Robert Campbell
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Book Details
  • Author: Robert Campbell
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Published: 1992-06-01
When John Winthrop called Boston "a citty upon a hill," he was speaking theocratically: it might better be called a city that floats upon the sea. Most Bostonians today live on land that was once marsh or bay, and the harbor that made the city prosper is empty of clipper ships and full of yachts.
In a brilliant interaction of the visual and the verbal, Robert Campbell, one of America's foremost architecture critics, and Peter Vanderwarker, architectural photographer and archivist, take us through the entire history of America's most venerable city. Founded on a narrow-necked peninsula shaped like a snake's head, Boston over the centuries has been transformed, through numerous changes in economic fortunes, architectural styles, and ethnic groups.
From the infancy of photography, people with cameras have recorded the life of Boston's streets, people, and buildings. Cityscapes of Boston, with its elegant and discerning text by Robert Campbell, displays the striking contrasts between past and present as well as some surprising continuities. Campbell's narrative asks--and often answers--questions about what enables a city to thrive, what makes it decline, and how architecture and planning nourish or stifle human needs. Peter Vanderwarker's painstaking research among historical photographs, combined with his own freshly created images, show us dramatically how cities grow and change. Fashions in architecture and in urban planning and design, waves of immigration, revolutions in technology, fire and flood, poverty and prosperity, all have affected the city and its people. The effect of Cityscapes of Boston is that of a fascinating historical time warp, enabling the student, the teacher, and the common reader to visualize a great American city as it has been, as it is now, and how it promises to change, for better or worse.

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