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Inventing New England

Regional Tourism in the Nineteenth Century

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Paperback published by Smithsonian Books (Smithsonian)

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About This Book
Quaint, charming, nostalgic New England: rustic fishing villages, romantic seaside cottages, breathtaking mountain vistas, peaceful rural settings. In Inventing New England, Dona Brown traces the creation of these calendar-page images and describes how tourism as a business emerged and came to shape the landscape, economy, and culture of a region.

By the latter nineteenth century, Brown argues, tourism had become an integral part of New England's rural economy, and the short vacation a fixture of middle-class life. Focusing on such meccas as the White Mountains, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, coastal Maine, and Vermont, Brown describes how failed port cities, abandoned farms, and even scenery were churned through powerful marketing engines promoting nostalgia. She also examines the irony of an industry that was based on an escape from commerce but served as an engine of industrial development, spawning hotel construction, land speculation, the spread of wage labor, and a vast market for guidebooks and other publications.
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Quaint, charming, nostalgic New England: rustic fishing villages, romantic seaside cottages, breathtaking mountain vistas, peaceful rural settings. In Inventing New England, Dona Brown traces the creation of these calendar-page images and describes how tourism as a business emerged and came to shape the landscape, economy, and culture of a region.

By the latter nineteenth century, Brown argues, tourism had become an integral part of New England's rural economy, and the short vacation a fixture of middle-class life. Focusing on such meccas as the White Mountains, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, coastal Maine, and Vermont, Brown describes how failed port cities, abandoned farms, and even scenery were churned through powerful marketing engines promoting nostalgia. She also examines the irony of an industry that was based on an escape from commerce but served as an engine of industrial development, spawning hotel construction, land speculation, the spread of wage labor, and a vast market for guidebooks and other publications.
Product Details
Paperback (264 pages)
Published: November 17, 1997
Publisher: Smithsonian
Imprint: Smithsonian Books
ISBN: 9781560987994
Other books byDona Brown
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    Back to the Land
    The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in...
    For many, “going back to the land” brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s—hippie communes and the Summer of Love,The Whole Earth CatalogandMother Earth News. More recently, the movement has reemerged in a new enthusiasm for locally produced food and more sustainable energy paths. But these latest back-to-the-landers are part of a much larger story. Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land ever since they started to leave it. InBack to the Land, Dona Brown explores the history of this recurring impulse.             Back-to-the-landers have often been viewed as nostalgic escapists or romantic nature-lovers. But their own words reveal a more complex story. In such projects as Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Broadacre City,” and Helen and Scott Nearing’s quest for “the good life,” Brown finds that the return to the farm has meant less a going-backwards than a going-forwards, a way to meet the challenges of the modern era. Progressive reformers pushed for homesteading to help impoverished workers get out of unhealthy urban slums. Depression-era back-to-the-landers, wary of the centralizing power of the New Deal, embraced a new “third way” politics of decentralism and regionalism. Later still, the movement merged with environmentalism. To understand Americans’ response to these back-to-the-land ideas, Brown turns to the fan letters of ordinary readers—retired teachers and overworked clerks, recent immigrants and single women. In seeking their rural roots, Brown argues, Americans have striven above all for the independence and self-sufficiency they associate with the agrarian ideal.

    A Tourist's New England

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    Stories and novel excerpts highlight the attractions and perils of vacationing in 19th-century New England.

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