In 1904, the brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler, partner to John D. Rockefeller and the true mastermind behind Standard Oil, concocted the dream of a railway connecting the island of Key West to the Florida mainland, crossing a staggering 153 miles of open ocean—an engineering challenge beyond even that of the Panama Canal.
“The financiers considered the project and said, Unthinkable. The engineers pondered the problems and from all came one verdict, Impossible. . . .” But build it they did, and the railroad stood as a magnificent achievement for twenty-two years. Once dismissed as “Flagler’s Folly,” it was heralded as “the Eighth Wonder of the World”—until a will even greater than Flagler’s rose up in opposition. In 1935, a hurricane of exceptional force, which would be dubbed “the Storm of the Century,” swept through the tiny islands, killing some 700 residents and workmen and washing away all but one sixty-foot section of track, on which a 320,000-pound railroad engine stood and “gripped its rails as if the gravity of Jupiter were pressing upon it.” Standiford brings the full force and fury of this storm to terrifying life.
In spinning his saga of the railroad’s construction, Standiford immerses us in the treacherous world of the thousands of workers who beat their way through infested swamps, lived in fragile tent cities on barges anchored in the midst of daunting stretches of ocean, and suffered from a remarkable succession of three ominous hurricanes that killed many and washed away vast stretches of track. Steadfast through every setback, Flagler inspired a loyalty in his workers so strong that even after a hurricane dislodged one of the railroad’s massive pilings, casting doubt over the viability of the entire project, his engineers refused to be beaten. The question was no longer “Could it be done?” but “Can we make it to Key West on time?” to allow Flagler to ride the rails of his dream.
Last Train to Paradise celebrates this crowning achievement of Gilded Age ambition, a sweeping tale of the powerful forces of human ingenuity colliding with the even greater forces of nature’s wrath.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Written in a clear and elegant style, The Ghosts of Berlin is not just another colorless architectural history of the German capital. . . . Mr. Ladd's book is a superb guide to this process of urban self-definition, both past and present."—Katharina Thote, Wall Street Journal
"If a book can have the power to change a public debate, then The Ghosts of Berlin is such a book. Among the many new books about Berlin that I have read, Brian Ladd's is certainly the most impressive. . . . Ladd's approach also owes its success to the fact that he is a good storyteller. His history of Berlin's architectural successes and failures reads entertainingly like a detective novel."—Peter Schneider, New Republic
"[Ladd's] well-written and well-illustrated book amounts to a brief history of the city as well as a guide to its landscape."—Anthony Grafton, New York Review of Books
In February 1910, a monstrous blizzard centered on Washington State hit the Northwest, breaking records. The world stopped—but nowhere was the danger more terrifying than near a tiny town called Wellington, perched high in the Cascade Mountains, where a desperate situation evolved minute by minute: two trainloads of cold, hungry passengers and their crews found themselves marooned without escape, their railcars gradually being buried in the rising drifts. For days, an army of the Great Northern Railroad's most dedicated men—led by the line's legendarily courageous superintendent, James O'Neill—worked round-the-clock to rescue the trains. But the storm was unrelenting, and to the passenger's great anxiety, the railcars—their only shelter—were parked precariously on the edge of a steep ravine. As the days passed, food and coal supplies dwindled. Panic and rage set in as snow accumulated deeper and deeper on the cliffs overhanging the trains. Finally, just when escape seemed possible, the unthinkable occurred: the earth shifted and a colossal avalanche tumbled from the high pinnacles, sweeping the trains and their sleeping passengers over the steep slope and down the mountainside.
Centered on the astonishing spectacle of our nation's deadliest avalanche, The White Cascade is the masterfully told story of a supremely dramatic and never-before-documented American tragedy. An adventure saga filled with colorful and engaging history, this is epic narrative storytelling at its finest.
Vitruvius describes the classic principles of symmetry, harmony, and proportion in architecture; the design of the treasury, prison, senate house, baths, forum, and temples; the construction of the theater: its site, foundations, and acoustics; the proper style and proportion for private dwellings; the differences between the Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian styles; methods of giving durability and beauty to polished finishings; and many other topics that help us understand the methods and beliefs of the Roman architect.
It is a direct, authoritative, and detailed introduction to the ancients' methods of construction, the materials of the architect, and the prevailing aesthetic beliefs of the times; but it is also a work of art. Vitruvius wrote in such a fascinating manner, and digressed from his subject so often (as, for instance, when he wrote about the winds, Archimedes in his bath, and why authors should receive awards and honors at least as often as athletes), that his book has had a continuing appeal to the general reader for many centuries. Besides being an instructive treatise on nearly everything connected with Roman and Greek architecture, it is an entertaining description of some aspects of the life and beliefs of the times. This edition is the standard English translation, prepared over a period of several years by Professor M. H. Morgan of Harvard University.
Concentrating not on rare landmarks but on typical dwellings in ordinary neighborhoods all across the United States -- houses built over the past three hundred years and lived in by Americans of every social and economic background -- the book provides you with the facts (and frame of reference) that will enable you to look in a fresh way at the houses you constantly see around you. It tells you -- and shows you in more than 1,200 illustrations -- what you need to know in order to be able to recognize the several distinct architectural styles and to understand their historical significance. What does that cornice mean? Or that porch? That door? When was this house built? What does its style say about the people who built it? You'll find the answers to such questions here.
This is how the book works: Each of thirty-nine chapters focuses on a particular style (and its variants). Each begins with a large schematic drawing that highlights the style's most important identifying features. Additional drawings and photographs depict the most common shapes and the principal subtypes, allowing you to see at a glance a wide range of examples of each style. Still more drawings offer close-up views of typical small details -- windows, doors, cornices, etc. -- that might be difficult to see in full-house pictures. The accompanying text is rich in information about each style -- describing in detail its identifying features, telling you where (and in what quantity) you're likely to find examples of it, discussing all of its notable variants, and revealing its origin and tracing its history.
In the book's introductory chapters you'll find invaluable general discussions of house-building materials and techniques ("Structure"), house shapes ("Form"), and the many traditions of architectural fashion ("Style") that have influenced American house design through the past three centuries. A pictorial key and glossary help lead you from simple, easily recognized architectural features -- the presence of a tile roof, for example -- to the styles in which that feature is likely to be found.
This eBook edition has been optimized for screen.
Of the many plans submitted, one stood out--a daring and unorthodox solution to vaulting what is still the largest dome (143 feet in diameter) in the world. It was offered not by a master mason or carpenter, but by a goldsmith and clockmaker named Filippo Brunelleschi, who would dedicate the next twenty-eight years to solving the puzzles of the dome's construction. In the process, he did nothing less than reinvent the field of architecture.
Brunelleschi's Dome is the story of how a Renaissance genius bent men, materials, and the very forces of nature to build an architectural wonder we continue to marvel at today. Denounced at first as a madman, Brunelleschi was celebrated at the end as a genius. He engineered the perfect placement of brick and stone, built ingenious hoists and cranes to carry an estimated 70 million pounds hundreds of feet into the air, and designed the workers' platforms and routines so carefully that only one man died during the decades of construction--all the while defying those who said the dome would surely collapse and his own personal obstacles that at times threatened to overwhelm him.
Even today, in an age of soaring skyscrapers, the cathedral dome of Santa Maria del Fiore retains a rare power to astonish. Ross King brings its creation to life in a fifteenth-century chronicle with twenty-first-century resonance.
As a journalist and associate editor of Fortune magazine who covered the demise of Penn Central and the creation of Conrail, Rush Loving often had a front row seat to the foibles and follies of this group of men. He uncovers intrigue, greed, lust for power, boardroom battles, and takeover wars and turns them into a page-turning story for readers.
Included is the story of how the chairman of CSX Corporation, who later became George W. Bush’s Treasury secretary, was inept as a manager but managed to make millions for himself while his company drifted in chaos. Men such as he were shy of scruples, yet there were also those who loved trains and railroading, and who played key roles in reshaping transportation in the northeastern United States. This book will delight not only the rail fan, but anyone interested in American business and history.
Two of the tunnels were built by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, a company headed by William Gibbs McAdoo, a man who later served as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and even mounted a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination at one point. McAdoo's H&M remains in service today as the PATH System of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The other tunnel was opened in 1910 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, led to the magnificent Penn Station on Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street, and remains in daily service today for both Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.
The author has updated this new edition with additional photographs, a concluding chapter on recent developments, and a Preface that recounts the last trains of September to the World Trade Center Terminal.
No invention, not even the Internet, has ever transformed the way the world traveled, worked, thought, fought, ate, drank, made love--you name it--the way the train did.
From the historic moment in September 1830 when the first train chuffed between Liverpool and Manchester, UK, there was a race to lay down tracks across the planet. Adventurers, visionaries, and rogues were attracted to grandiose projects linking distant corners of the globe in a quest for wealth, power, and national unity. The achievements were heroic: India's railway network was the biggest public works project since the building of the pyramids. But the human costs were huge. In the 1850s, six thousand workers died during the construction of the Panama railway, the world's first transcontinental line--120 for each mile of railroad. The cadavers were pickled and sold to medical schools around the world to defray costs. But for the shareholders, there were fortunes to be made, and at their peak, the railroads represented luxury almost beyond belief.
The Iron Road tells of great invention, grand vision, mind-boggling engineering, military strategy, colonial ambition, groundbreaking trade changes, and social impact--all the ways that railroads utterly changed the world in which we live.
Illustrated with more than 400 historical and modern photographs and period advertisements, The Complete Book of North American Railroading takes readers back to the birth of the railroads, then travels through the “Golden Age” from 1900 to 1950 and on to the railways of our day. Locomotives, from steam to electric and diesel; passenger travel; freight operations; and infrastructure, including stations, bridges, depots, roundhouse, railyards, and signaling are all thoroughly examined and amply illustrated. Authors Kevin EuDaly and Mike Schafer delve into the history, the culture, and the technology of the railroads as they have carried travelers across the continent, brought goods to market, connected businesses in peacetime and war, and enriched the canon of American folklore and the quality of everyday life.
At the center of the story is the tempestuous but courtly Somervell–“dynamite in a Tiffany box,” as he was once described. In July 1941, the Army construction chief sprang the idea of building a single, huge headquarters that could house the entire War Department, then scattered in seventeen buildings around Washington. Somervell ordered drawings produced in one weekend and, despite a firestorm of opposition, broke ground two months later, vowing that the building would be finished in little more than a year. Thousands of workers descended on the site, a raffish Virginia neighborhood known as Hell’s Bottom, while an army of draftsmen churned out designs barely one step ahead of their execution. Seven months later the first Pentagon employees skirted seas of mud to move into the building and went to work even as construction roared around them. The colossal Army headquarters helped recast Washington from a sleepy southern town into the bustling center of a reluctant empire.
Vivid portraits are drawn of other key figures in the drama, among them Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president who fancied himself an architect; Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, both desperate for a home for the War Department as the country prepared for battle; Colonel Leslie R. Groves, the ruthless force of nature who oversaw the Pentagon’s construction (as well as the Manhattan Project to create an atomic bomb); and John McShain, the charming and dapper builder who used his relationship with FDR to help land himself the contract for the biggest office building in the world.
The Pentagon’s post-World War II history is told through its critical moments, including the troubled birth of the Department of Defense during the Cold War, the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the tumultuous 1967 protest against the Vietnam War. The pivotal attack on September 11 is related with chilling new detail, as is the race to rebuild the damaged Pentagon, a restoration that echoed the spirit of its creation.
This study of a single enigmatic building tells a broader story of modern American history, from the eve of World War II to the new wars of the twenty-first century. Steve Vogel has crafted a dazzling work of military social history that merits comparison with the best works of David Halberstam or David McCullough. Like its namesake, The Pentagon is a true landmark.
The Moffat Line tells the story of David Moffat and the impossible dream that led to the 1927 completion of the Moffat Tunnel. The story is also about the men who drove the trains and built and operated the railroad under incredible weather and equipment challenges—day and night. Together, Moffat’s vision and the exploits of the railroad workers combine to produce a fascinating chapter in the history of the American West.
Train Wreck details 17 crashes in which more than 200 people were killed. Readers follow investigators as they sift through the rubble and work with computerized event recorders to figure out what happened. Using a mix of eyewitness accounts and scientific explanations, Bibel draws us into a world of forensics and human drama.
Train Wreck is a fascinating exploration of• runaway trains• bearing failures• metal fatigue• crash testing • collision dynamics• bad rails
This outstanding book presents 500 small-home designs of the 1920s as they appeared in a major architectural publication of 1923. Many are by leading domestic architects of the period. Each design is presented in a handsome perspective drawing or photograph, along with floor plans and a description of its principal features.
The designs reflect many variations on the basic themes of American colonial architecture, updated by new construction technology and the design aesthetics of the post‒World War I era. The Bungalow and semi-bungalow were perhaps the biggest design news of the times, and they are generously represented in this huge collection. Because of the practicality and good looks of the best of these designs, and perhaps for the nostalgia they evoke, many are being revived today by builders and buyers in communities across America.
Architects, architectural, and social historians, students and enthusiasts of architecture and design will find in these pages a rich selection of small-home concepts that once set the standard for a new era in American home design, and that still form an integral part of our landscape many decades after their first inspiration.
Building the city's first subway in the early years of the twentieth century required delicate collaboration between public and private interests and called for the expenditure of considerable sums of both public and private money. The book introduces us to Abram S. Hewitt, a late nineteenth-century mayor of New York City. It was Hewitt who realized that, while private capital alone had been perfectly adequate for building elevated rapid transit lines in New York as early as the 1870s, the more costly construction of underground rapid transit lines was far beyond the ability of private corporations to finance. Hewitt set in motion a chain of events that sanctioned the use of public funds for subway construction, with the completed facility then to be leased to a private company for day-to-day operation.
The private firm that emerged, both to build and to operate the first subway in New York, was called the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, a name that would later be rendered more crisply as the IRT. The City of New York and the Interborough Rapid transit Company inaugurated service over the city's first subway line on Thursday afternoon, October 27, 1904. Mayor George B. McClellan, son of the Civil War general, took the controls of the first ceremonial train at City Hall Station in downtown Manhattan and headed north. In one way or another, the subway has been going ever since.
The book also presents important tabular and statistical information, as well as clear and concise narrative descriptions of technical details.
In page after fascinating page, this rich retrospective features the finest examples of medieval masonwork, woodwork, and metalwork dating back to the thirteenth century. Explore the soaring Gothic characteristics of vaulted ceilings, arched windows, flying buttresses, pointed spires, ornamental filials, and decorative panels, plus doorways, moldings, roofing, porches, door hinges, and other elaborate architectural elements.
Filled with fascinating insights into the creation of Gothic-style churches and cathedrals, this sweeping survey also provides lively observations of the medieval period.
At sites from the eastern and western U.S., past and present, readers see giant double-headed Norfolk and Western steam locomotives moving Appalachian coal in Virginia; modern CSX diesels dragging unit coal trains over the well-groomed former Chesapeake & Ohio main line; BNSF’s SD70MACs with more than 100 hoppers in tow; Rio Grande locomotives snaking through the Rocky Mountains; and coal trains working full-throttle up Colorado’s Tennessee Pass, cresting the Continental Divide at 10,000 feet above sea level. Taking up topics ranging from the colorful but now-defunct “anthracite roads” of eastern Pennsylvania to today’s AC-traction diesels that work Wyoming’s thriving Powder River Basin, Solomon reveals how for 150 years the unique demands of coal—and America’s demand for coal—have prompted new railroad technologies.
In his wide-ranging and entertaining new book, Tom Zoellner—coauthor of the New York Times–bestselling An Ordinary Man—travels the globe to tell the story of the sociological and economic impact of the railway technology that transformed the world—and could very well change it again. From the frigid trans-Siberian railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to the Japanese-style bullet trains, Zoellner offers a stirring story of this most indispensable form of travel. A masterful narrative history, Train also explores the sleek elegance of railroads and their hypnotizing rhythms, and explains how locomotives became living symbols of sex, death, power, and romance.
The first book to document an American cult of the ruin, Untimely Ruins traces its deviations as well as derivations from European conventions. Unlike classical and Gothic ruins, which decayed gracefully over centuries and inspired philosophical meditations about the fate of civilizations, America’s ruins were often “untimely,” appearing unpredictably and disappearing before they could accrue an aura of age. As modern ruins of steel and iron, they stimulated critical reflections about contemporary cities, and the unfamiliar kinds of experience they enabled. Unearthing evocative sources everywhere from the archives of amateur photographers to the contents of time-capsules, Untimely Ruins exposes crucial debates about the economic, technological, and cultural transformations known as urban modernity. The result is a fascinating cultural history that uncovers fresh perspectives on the American city.
The notorious Central Pacific Railroad riveted the attention of two great American writers: Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris. In The Great American Railroad War, Dennis Drabelle tells a classic story of corporate greed vs. the power of the pen. The Central Pacific Railroad accepted US Government loans; but, when the loans fell due, the last surviving founder of the railroad avoided repayment. Bierce, at the behest of his boss William Randolph Hearst, swung into action writing over sixty stinging articles that became a signal achievement in American journalism. Later, Norris focused the first volume of his trilogy, The Octopus, on the freight cars of a thinly disguised version of the Central Pacific.
The Great American Railroad War is a lively chapter of US history pitting two of America's greatest writers against one of America's most powerful corporations.
"Readers with interests in western American history or the origins of today’s political quagmires will find much to relish. " - Publishers Weekly
This fascinating reprint of a rare architectural catalog is filled with photos of actual completed bungalows from the era, built prior to 1919. A mix of Spanish tile, stucco exteriors, wraparound porches, overhanging gables, handcrafted stone, and woodwork added up to many a homeowner's dream. Geared to the climate of the northern and eastern regions, each bungalow is an authentic Craftsman design and features a photo, description, floor plan, and original costs. A fascinating showcase of primary American architecture, Craftsman Bungalows is an indispensable resource for architects, builders, historians, and illustrators.
The Cat Encyclopedia is a celebration of all things feline, with a fully illustrated catalog of cat breeds including those recognized by TICA, CFA, GCCF and FIFe. The Cat Encyclopedia contains everything you need to know about cats in one easy-reference volume.
The last great building to go up along New York’s Gold Coast, construction on 740 Park finished in 1930. Since then, 740 has been home to an ever-evolving cadre of our wealthiest and most powerful families, some of America’s (and the world’s) oldest money—the kind attached to names like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Bouvier, Chrysler, Niarchos, Houghton, and Harkness—and some whose names evoke the excesses of today’s monied elite: Kravis, Koch, Bronfman, Perelman, Steinberg, and Schwarzman. All along, the building has housed titans of industry, political power brokers, international royalty, fabulous scam-artists, and even the lowest scoundrels.
The book begins with the tumultuous story of the building’s construction. Conceived in the bubbling financial, artistic, and social cauldron of 1920’s Manhattan, 740 Park rose to its dizzying heights as the stock market plunged in 1929—the building was in dire financial straits before the first apartments were sold. The builders include the architectural genius Rosario Candela, the scheming businessman James T. Lee (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s grandfather), and a raft of financiers, many of whom were little more than white-collar crooks and grand-scale hustlers.
Once finished, 740 became a magnet for the richest, oldest families in the country: the Brewsters, descendents of the leader of the Plymouth Colony; the socially-registered Bordens, Hoppins, Scovilles, Thornes, and Schermerhorns; and top executives of the Chase Bank, American Express, and U.S. Rubber. Outside the walls of 740 Park, these were the people shaping America culturally and economically. Within those walls, they were indulging in all of the Seven Deadly Sins.
As the social climate evolved throughout the last century, so did 740 Park: after World War II, the building’s rulers eased their more restrictive policies and began allowing Jews (though not to this day African Americans) to reside within their hallowed walls. Nowadays, it is full to bursting with new money, people whose fortunes, though freshly-made, are large enough to buy their way in.
At its core this book is a social history of the American rich, and how the locus of power and influence has shifted haltingly from old bloodlines to new money. But it’s also much more than that: filled with meaty, startling, often tragic stories of the people who lived behind 740’s walls, the book gives us an unprecedented access to worlds of wealth, privilege, and extraordinary folly that are usually hidden behind a scrim of money and influence. This is, truly, how the other half—or at least the other one hundredth of one percent—lives.
From ancient ruins to twentieth-century Modernism, the Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture covers the full spectrum of architecture's rise and development. Subject areas include the following periods: Ancient, Islamic, Greek and Hellenistic, Mesoamerican, Roman, Romanesque, Early Christian, Gothic, Renaissance, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Modern. This volume is an important research tool that places particular emphasis on clarity and accuracy. For the architect, artist, historian, student, teacher, or architecture enthusiast, this valuable guide offers indispensable information and lucid illustrations covering the whole of architecture.
Forty-five buildings of all sorts — cottages, villas, suburban houses, town houses, a farm, a jail, courthouses, banks, store fronts, churches, schools, even stables — are portrayed in beautiful architectural drawings of scaled elevations and floor plans. Large-sized details show the principal corners, panels, railings, arches, finials, window and verandah sections; scales range from 3/32 of an inch to the foot for the elevations, to 1/2"/1' for the details.
The designs come from architects in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, and were built in many large and small communities. Along with the private homes and standard public buildings, there are plans for the first completely fireproof courthouse (built of marble and cast iron) in the United States, at Macoupin County, Illinois; the Bay County Courthouse in Bay City, Michigan, may also be numbered among the noteworthy inclusions. A three-story home in this book, with four bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, parlor, verandah, hall, portico, and cellar (with servants' quarters, if necessary) cost, at that time, $5000 to build; a series of specifications, both general and particular (for carpenters, plumbers, painters and masons) and sample contracts (with provisions for bad weather and striking workmen) offer some idea how such buildings were possible at such prices.
The detailed measurements and specifications provide modellers, miniaturists, set designers, woodworkers, or even full-scale builders, with the information necessary to recreate these designs. Historians of architecture, home restorers, anyone who delights in the felicities of American Victorian, will find this book a superb primary source of authentic building style.
is an Original Book
on the History of Visual Organ female. The
author traces from prehistory
to today as the
man has represented the female sex, and what were the meanings related to
them. The topics
dealt with by the author follow a vast historical
and cultural framework that embraces centuries of social history of women
in order to shed light on the
cultural motivations that were the basis of theories
and beliefs female organ.
Readers meet the historians, railroad executives, transportation officials, politicians, government regulators, railroad lobbyists, and passenger-rail advocates who are rallying around a simple question: Why has the greatest railroad nation in the world turned its back on the very form of transportation that made modern life and mobility possible?
Distrust of railroads in the nineteenth century, overregulation in the twentieth, and heavy government subsidies for airports and roads have left the country with a skeletal intercity passenger-rail system. Amtrak has endured for decades, and yet failed to prosper owing to a lack of political and financial support and an uneasy relationship with the big, remaining railroads.
While riding the rails, McCommons explores how the country may move passenger rail forward in America--and what role government should play in creating and funding mass-transportation systems. Against the backdrop of the nation's stimulus program, he explores what it will take to build high-speed trains and transportation networks, and when the promise of rail will be realized in America.
When we think of cathedrals, we usually envision the great Gothic Buildings of 12th- and 13th-century Europe. But other than being a large church, a cathedral is neither a specific building type nor specifically medieval. What a makes a large church a cathedral is the presence of a single item of furniture: the chair (in Latin: cathedra) or throne that is the symbol of the ecclesiastical and spiritual authority of a bishop. This book is an introduction to the medieval cathedral, those churches that are usually regarded as among the greatest achievements of medieval architecture.
While cathedrals were often the most prominent urban structure in many European cities, their construction was never a civic responsibility, but remained the responsibility of the clergy in charge of the day to day activities and services. Beginning with an overview of the social history of cathedrals, Clark examines such topics as patrons, builders and artists, and planning and construction; and provides an in-depth examination of the French Cathedral at Reims--a seminal building with significant technological advances, important sculptural programs, a surviving bishop's palace, and other structures. The volume concludes with a series of illustrations, a selection of original texts, and a selected bibliography for further study. A full index is also provided.
While most books about Gothic cathedrals focus on a particular building or on the cathedrals of a specific region, The Gothic Enterprise considers the idea of the cathedral as a humanly created space. Scott discusses why an impoverished people would commit so many social and personal resources to building something so physically stupendous and what this says about their ideas of the sacred, especially the vital role they ascribed to the divine as a protector against the dangers of everyday life.
Scott’s narrative offers a wealth of fascinating details concerning daily life during medieval times. The author describes the difficulties master-builders faced in scheduling construction that wouldn’t be completed during their own lifetimes, how they managed without adequate numeric systems or paper on which to make detailed drawings, and how climate, natural disasters, wars, variations in the hours of daylight throughout the year, and the celebration of holy days affected the pace and timing of work. Scott also explains such things as the role of relics, the quarrying and transporting of stone, and the incessant conflict cathedral-building projects caused within their communities. Finally, by drawing comparisons between Gothic cathedrals and other monumental building projects, such as Stonehenge, Scott expands our understanding of the human impulses that shape our landscape.
In many cities across the world, particularly in Europe, old buildings form a prominent part of the built environment, and we often take it for granted that their contribution is intrinsically positive. How has that widely-shared belief come about, and is its continued general acceptance inevitable?
Certainly, ancient structures have long been treated with care and reverence in many societies, including classical Rome and Greece. But only in modern Europe and America, in the last two centuries, has this care been elaborated and energised into a forceful, dynamic ideology: a ‘Conservation Movement’, infused with a sense of historical destiny and loss, that paradoxically shared many of the characteristics of Enlightenment modernity. The close inter-relationship between conservation and modern civilisation was most dramatically heightened in periods of war or social upheaval, beginning with the French Revolution, and rising to a tragic climax in the 20th-century age of totalitarian extremism; more recently the troubled relationship of ‘heritage’ and global commercialism has become dominant.
Miles Glendinning’s new book authoritatively presents, for the first time, the entire history of this architectural Conservation Movement, and traces its dramatic fluctuations in ideas and popularity, ending by questioning whether its recent international ascendancy can last indefinitely.