Metropolitan Corridor

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Railroads and the American Scene

John R. Stilgoe

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Price: $28.00
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An engaging and delightfully illustrated account of the impact of railroads on the American built environment and on American culture from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the 1930s. 
“One of the most important [books] of the season, a wonderful piece of social history.”—Ivan R. Dee, Chicago Tribune
“Stilgoe ransacks magazines, ads, novels, poems, to create what is really 10 books crammed into one, dense with vivid fact and alluring conjecture.  The chapter on trolleys alone is worth the price of the book.  So is the one entitled ‘Cinema.’  A classic-to-be.”—Robert Campbell, Boston Sunday Globe
“An impressive new study…. Here in wonderful detail are the trains and the built environment adjacent to the right-of-way they traveled…. A stunning spatial analysis of the transformations wrought by the railroads.”—Delores Greenberg, The New York Times Book Review
“A honey of a book: scholarly, joyous, absorbing in its detail, often arresting in its insights… and packed with vintage photos and drawings.”—Kirkus Reviews
“An original, engaging, instructive, and wonderfully evocative book.”—Leo Marx, The New York Review of Books
“Whether we are enthusiasts, scholars, buffs, commuters, or Amtrak riders, Stilgoe offers us a new way to look at railroads and railroading.”—Keith L. Bryant, Jr., Railroad History

"A honey of a book: scholarly, joyous, absorbing in its detail, often arresting in its insights . . . and packed with vintage photos and drawings. . . . For railroad buffs and American-culture-mongers, students and dreamers."—Kirkus Reviews

"Sets a new standard for the discussion of American culture and its artifacts."—Cecilia Tichi, American Quarterly

"An original, engaging, instructive, and wonderfully evocative book."—Leo Marx, New York Review of Books

"Fascinating. . . . Splendid."—Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal

"Offers a vast amount of rich railroad lore and background to any modeler's library. It's delightful and informative."—S. Gaugian

"Lavishly illustrated with more than 170 vintage drawings, photographs and advertisements, the text describes the zenith of railroading, from 1880 to 1930. . . . Stilgoe's handsome book is a delight—a shrewd and entertaining look back at the age when the train remade rural America in its own urban image by producing a new social ethic of straight-line efficiency, futuristic speed and scurrying punctuality."—Jim Miller, Newsweek

"[An] impressive new study. . . . Here in wonderful detail are the trains and the built environment adjacent to the right-of-way they traveled. . . . A stunning spatial analysis of the transformations wrought by the railroads."—Delores Greenberg, New York Times Book Review

"One of the more important [books] of the season, a wonderful piece of social history."—Ivan R. Dee, Chicago Tribune Book World

"With a facile mind and a knack for the right detail, John R. Stilgoe has produced a work that teaches, entertains and challenges. . . . The book is history, for sure, but it is a history written by someone who understands the curiosities of how we live. Railroads here are not simply trains and tracks and rights-of-way that remain on the maps of our cities. They are forces that make neighborhoods sinister, depending on one's view; they are spurs to the suburban pastimes of tennis, croquet and badminton; they inspire great cinematography; they force us to understand scale and time; they imbue in us a spirit of wildness and discovery and also, isolation. Ultimately, they are also symbols of transition, progress and ruin."—Howard S. Shapiro, Philadelphia Inquirer

"An exciting, fresh treatment of railroading in the United States. . . . The book ought to be required reading for all students of American transportation."—H. Roger Grant, Journal of American History

"An outstanding study of the intellectual and social ramifications of railway development in the United States from the 1880s to the 1930s. . . . Whether we are enthusiasts, scholars, buffs, commuters, or Amtrak riders, Stilgoe offers us a new way to look at railroads and railroading. . . . A brief review cannot convey the sweep of this outstanding contribution to American cultural history."—Keith L. Bryant, Jr., Railroad History

"Stilgoe ransacks magazines, ads, novels, poems to create what is really 10 books crammed into one, dense with vivid fact and alluring conjecture. The chapter on trolleys alone is worth the price of the book. So is the one entitled 'Cinema.' A classic-to-be."—Robert Campbell, Boston Sunday Globe

"An engaging ride that shuttles between the scholarly and popular to capture the fascination of a nation with the power and progress represented by railroads. A slice of American culture before the ascendancy of the automobile."—Sam Hall Kaplan, Los Angeles Times

"This fascinating book examines U.S. railroading in its prime years from a fresh perspective: it is a wide-ranging analysis of the railroad environment. . . . Drawing on sources as diverse as journals, popular novels, and trade catalogs, this broadly multidisciplinary synthesis is recommended to both public and academic libraries."—Library Journal

"Metropolitan Corridor is well written and well designed, with conveniently placed illustrations that support the text. It examines the railroad industry in an original and stimulating manner, as only a visually-oriented person could do. It is a significant addition to our knowledge and way of thinking about cultural landscapes."—John Gruber, Landscape Journal

"This is a powerful and significant book. . . . It succeeds in a wealth of elegant insights. It succeeds as a literary tour de force. And it succeeds as a synthesis of technology and culture. For that alone it should be hailed above all for its imaginative sweep."—Robert C. Post, American Historical Review

"This latest work demonstrates Stilgoe's developing mastery of the field of American studies. At his best, he allows the reader to visualize the scene, to enter the developing metropolitan aesthetic: he consistently unifies a literate concern for the symbols of American culture with a respect of the artifacts of that culture. Interdisciplinary scholarship should learn much from the skillful weaving together of disciplinary strands, an intertwining that gives substance to the fabric of Metropolitan Corridor."—Eric J. Sandeen, Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Culture

"In this provocative new book John Stilgoe brings back into focus for contemporary readers the dominance and excitement of railroad environments. . . . Readers will delight in Stilgoe's elegant prose and his love of words as clues to landscape meaning. . . . Reviving  the urban sense of excitement that hummed along the tracks and elucidating the interconnected elements in the metropolitan corridor are Stilgoe's most important contributions in this book."—Paul Groth, Landscape

"An excellent introduction to a large and virtually unexplored topic. It should be read by anyone interested in railroads from a cultural or humanistic perspective, and by students of the changing American scene. Railroad enthusiasts will find the book a treasury of photographs and illustrations, and many readers will be tempted to ferret out the novels and magazines of fifty to a hundred years ago and explore the intricacies pf the metropolitan corridor vicariously for themselves."—Russell S. Kirby, Wisconsin Magazine of History

"An inventive book, handsomely illustrated, with intriguing technical information about railroading  made palatable to nontechnical readers."—Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Reviews in American History

Winner of the 1986 George W. & Constance M. Hilton Book Award given by the Railman & Locomotive Historical Society
ISBN: 9780300034813
Publication Date: September 10, 1985
398 pages, 7 x 10
179 color illus.
Borderland

Origins of the American Suburb, 1820-1939

John R. Stilgoe

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