The American City : From the Civil War to the New Deal

by Giorgio Ciucci

Other authorsFrancesco Dal Co (Author), Manfredo Tafuri (Author), Mario Manieri-Elia (Author), Barbara Luigia La Penta (Author)
Paper Book, 1979




Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c1979.

User reviews

LibraryThing member pranogajec
This is an essential collection of four chronologically-related extended essays on American architecture and urbanism from 1850 to 1940. Despite its early date (1973 in the original Italian edition), the essays are full of still-potent insights and are remarkably open-minded for their time. The first essay in particular, by Mario Manieri-Elia on the City Beautiful Movement and especially Daniel Burnham, is perhaps the most even-handed treatment of the movement and of Burnham, rejecting the moralizing denunciations of Sullivan and Mumford on to the present by "progressives" as well as the candy-coated aestheticism of some of today's uncritical classicist admirers. He treats the social-political question in the work of the City Beautiful with admirable clarity and honesty. If I disagree with his characterization of its classicism as an "imperial facade," I also appreciate his refreshing perspective in general.

Perhaps the only major problem with the volume is the long-windedness of the essays. This is often a problem with translations from German or Italian--the prose never seems entirely fluid and concise. Nonetheless, I think this is a crucial part of the literature on the architecture and urbanism of this period, and it's a shame it hasn't been more widely engaged and debated by American architectural historians. By now, forty years after its publication in English, it's probably considered outmoded--but we've still not adequately dealt with this period's "conservative" architecture, and for that reason this volume remains essential.
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