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Inventing New England

Inventing New England:  Regional Tourism in the Nineteenth Century by Dona Brown

First tourism in America was the American grand tour, which consisted of cities, cities, cities.  Church services, jails, legislatures in session -- those were the sights.  But the fashionable tour started to take in the scenery, like Niagara.  Some of it was sublime, some of the wilderness was picturesque, but "beautiful" remained the pleasant farmland on the sides of the river, serene and orderly and settled.  One tourist said that the trees were not so worthwhile because in England, they would indicate a substantial landowner had them planted; here in America, they just grew even when people didn't own much property.

The White Mountains were the first area to be sought out for wild scenery, when it was still deemed necessary for romantic and poetical associations to make a landscape effective.  People went out of their way to manufacture such associations; they even openly called for people to do so.  Though colonial and Indian associations were beginning to be enough, plus romantic names for sights.  The Old Man of the Mountain and its significance.  And how the scenery declined as the great hotels came to be the great attraction.

Martha's Vineyard, which first of all became the location for a Methodist revival every summer.  First they lived in communal tents, then some had private tents, then some built cottages -- and it metamorphosed into a place for a wholesome vacation -- not Newport, and that in more than the price involved.  How cottages and business spread out from the camp.

Nantucket, declining sharply from its glory days of the whaling business, became the go-to location for nostalgia and stout old New England virtues.  Which is curious on account of its having actually been a place of money and urban living.  Nevertheless it was maintained, and their sea-going nature also explained the island's decline:  obviously so restless a people would not stick around in one place.  On the other hand, the island was perhaps more valued for the native characters than the native character; oddities soon got more play than virtue.

"Old Home Week" in upper New England was a deliberate ploy to invoke all sorts of old-fashioned rural virtues and coming home.  Which led to a big business in having people spend their summer vacations on farms, for fresh air and good farm cooking.  There were lots of articles instructing farm women on how to cook good farm cooking, because they expected a lot of fresh vegetables and a variety, eggs, milk -- and not the actual fat-high food that the farmers actually ate.

Maine with its resorts and its social classes and the colonial heritage and all that brought about with questions of ancestry.  The adventures of trying to do new stuff in a place with the reputation for oldness.

The epilogue touches on the twentieth century and the way the automobile killed the massive tourist hotels for wide spread amenities, and brought, for instance, tourism to Cape Cod.
Tags: ethos, history reviews: 19th century-wwi, secondary source, world-building: food
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  • tale of a child

    There are fairy tales with child protagonists, of course. If you read up on them, there are even tales that start with child protagonists who are…

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