Cities from the Sky: An Aerial Portrait of America

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9781568982991: Cities from the Sky: An Aerial Portrait of America

Piloting a single-engine biplane high above Washington D.C. in 1920, the intrepid inventor and aviation pioneer Sherman Fairchild first tested his custom-built sky camera, effectively founding the aerial photography company that would bear his name. Roaming America's skies for the next 40 years, the photographers of the Fairchild Aerial Survey Company documented nearly every major city in the United States. Their images, both maplike shots from high above, and low-angle raking views, form a definitive portrait of the American landscape. Rescued from destruction in the 1970s, the Fairchild archive was scattered across the country. Painstakingly reassembled for this book, the images (many of which have never been seen before) are brought together here for the first time. This beautifully produced, large format book collects over 125 extraordinary images taken between the 1920s and the 1960s. The photographs, valued both as works of art and as tools for urban historians, often capture historic moments: the Capitol Building during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first inauguration and Yankee Stadium during Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Others depict architectural landmarks: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, Hoover Dam, and Alcatraz, to name a few. Some of the cities revealed in astonishing detail include: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Berkeley, Boston, Cedar Rapids, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miam,i Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Palo Alto, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Reno, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington

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About the Author:

Thomas J. Campanella is a contributing editor to Wired and regular contributor to Architectural Record. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

From Booklist:

Campanella showcases the work of Fairchild Aerial Surveys, the cornerstone of the industrial empire of Sherman Fairchild, who became interested in photography and flying as a youth. Splendidly mounted on 14.5-by-12.5-inch pages, the photos show a sampling of U.S. cities, circa 1921-50, and are disposed in three parts according to whether the city in view is in the East, the interior, or the West of the U.S. Virtually all taken on crystal-clear days at angles ranging from, say, 30 degrees to the perpendicular, they are wonderfully well detailed, so that the new 1936 cars on the Ford lot in Dearborn are unmistakably of the old square passenger-box and trapezoidal engine-compartment style. If New York comes off most impressively, the pictures remind us of such less-renowned urban glories as Philadelphia's fine skyscraper collection, Annapolis' baroque late-seventeenth-century city plan, and Cedar Rapids' Municipal Island. Present-day western metropolises, such as Albuquerque and Phoenix, surprise with how relatively small they were and how much room they had to grow. A book to pore over again and again. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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