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City Building on the Eastern Frontier

Sorting the New Nineteenth-Century City

Diane Shaw

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America's westward expansion involved more than pushing the frontier across the Mississippi toward the Pacific; it also consisted of urbanizing undeveloped regions of the colonial states. In 1810, New York's future governor DeWitt Clinton marveled that the "rage for erecting villages is a perfect mania." The development of Rochester and Syracuse illuminates the national experience of internal economic and cultural colonization during the first half of the nineteenth century. Architectural historian Diane Shaw examines the ways in which these new cities were shaped by a variety of constituents...

America's westward expansion involved more than pushing the frontier across the Mississippi toward the Pacific; it also consisted of urbanizing undeveloped regions of the colonial states. In 1810, New York's future governor DeWitt Clinton marveled that the "rage for erecting villages is a perfect mania." The development of Rochester and Syracuse illuminates the national experience of internal economic and cultural colonization during the first half of the nineteenth century. Architectural historian Diane Shaw examines the ways in which these new cities were shaped by a variety of constituents—founders, merchants, politicians, and settlers—as opportunities to extend the commercial and social benefits of the market economy and a merchant culture to America's interior. At the same time, she analyzes how these priorities resulted in a new approach to urban planning.

According to Shaw, city founders and residents deliberately arranged urban space into three segmented districts—commercial, industrial, and civic—to promote a self-fulfilling vision of a profitable and urbane city. Shaw uncovers a distinctly new model of urbanization that challenges previous paradigms of the physical and social construction of nineteenth-century cities. Within two generations, the new cities of Rochester and Syracuse were sorted at multiple scales, including not only the functional definition of districts, but also the refinement of building types and styles, the stratification of building interiors by floor, and even the coding of public space by class, gender, and race. Shaw's groundbreaking model of early nineteenth-century urban design and spatial culture is a major contribution to the interdisciplinary study of the American city.

Reviews

Reviews

An important corrective to studies of urban design based upon the metropolis.

Very effectively suggests ways to extend the work of architectural historians, geographers, historians, and planners alike.

Carefully researched, fine-grained analysis.

Delivers valuable detail about two minor cities in a critical period of economic change. Excellent maps and a fine selection of illustrations enhance the package significantly.

Among the most significant recent developments in the humanities and social sciences is the 'spatial turn' that scholars have taken... Shaw's new book represents an important step in this paradigm shift.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
272
ISBN
9780801879258
Illustration Description
53 halftones, 2 line drawings
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. Vernacular Urbanism and the Mercantile Network of New Cities
Chapter 2. Planning the Sorted City: Commercial, Industrial, and Civic Districts
Chapter 3. Building the Sorted

Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. Vernacular Urbanism and the Mercantile Network of New Cities
Chapter 2. Planning the Sorted City: Commercial, Industrial, and Civic Districts
Chapter 3. Building the Sorted City: The Three Epitome Districts
Chapter 4. Refining the Sorted City: Appearances in the Commercial District
Chapter 5. Gentrifying the Sorted City: Social Sorting in the Commercial District
Chapter 6. The Reynolds Arcade and Athenaeum
Chapter 7. Transportation and the Changing Streetscape
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Diane Shaw

Diane Shaw is an associate professor of architectural history at Carnegie Mellon University.