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Inventing New England: Regional Tourism in the Nineteenth Century

Brown, Dona

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ISBN 10: 1560984732 / ISBN 13: 9781560984733
Published by Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 1995
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

253pp. Light grey cloth with black lettering on spine; spine very, very slightly cocked, else FINE. Pictorial dustwrapper with scene from George L. Keyes, "The Profile [of "The Old Man of the Mountain"] with tourists" from Keyes 1873 book; yellow and white lettering. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 001392

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Inventing New England: Regional Tourism in ...

Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC

Publication Date: 1995

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition, First Printing.

About this title


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 in the nineteenth century and came to shape the landscape, economy, and culture of a region. She 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.
By the mid-nineteenth century, New England's whaling industry was faltering, lumbering was exhausted, herring fisheries were declining, and farming was becoming less profitable. Although the region had once been viewed as a center of invention and progress, economic hardship in the countryside fueled the development of the tourist industry. Before that time, elite vacations had been defined by the "grand tour" up the Hudson River to Saratoga Springs and Niagara Falls. Recognizing the potential of middle-class vacations, promoters of tourism fashioned a vision of pastoral beauty, rural independence, virtuous simplicity, and ethnic "purity" that appealed to an emerging class of urban professionals. 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. "Old salts" dressed in sea captains' garb were recruited to sing chanteys and to tell tales of old whaling days to crowds of mesmerized tourists. Dilapidated farmhouses, "restored" to look even older, were transformed into quaint country inns. By the late nineteenth century, much of New England was highly urbanized, industrial, and ethnically diverse. But for tourists, the "real" New England was to be found in the remote areas of the region, where they could escape from the conditions of modern urban industrial life - the very life for which New Englanders had been praised a generation earlier.
In an epilogue that addresses the "packaging" of Cape Cod in the twentieth century, Brown discusses how human choices - not scenery - create a market for tourism. With fascinating anecdotes about entrepreneurial innkeepers, farmers, and others, Inventing New England explores the early growth of a new industry that was on the cutting edge of capitalist development even though its cultural "products" appeared untainted by market transactions.

About the Author:

Dona Brown is an assistant professor of history at the University of Vermont.

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