Fear Of The City 1783 To 1983

The city has been a lure for millions, but most of the great American minds have been appalled by its excesses. Here an eminent observer, who knows firsthand the city’s threat, surveys the subject.

EVERY THURSDAY , when I leave my apartment in a vast housing complex on Columbus Avenue to conduct a university seminar on the American city, I reflect on a double life—mine. Most of the people I pass on my way to the subway look as imprisoned by the city as my parents and relatives used to look in the Brooklyn ghetto where I spent my first twenty years. Yet no matter where else I have traveled and taught, I always seem to return to streets and scenes like those on New York’s Upper West Side. Read more »

What Went Wrong With Disney’s Worlds Fair

With Epcot, Walt Disney turned his formidable skills to building a city where man and technology could live together in perfect harmony. The result is part prophecy, part world’s fair. Here, America’s leading authority on technological history examines this urban experiment in the light of past world’s fairs, and tells why it fails where they succeeded—and why that matters.

MOST OF THE world must know by now that Epcot is a place built in north-central Florida by the followers of Walt Disney to explain how science and technology fit into the human scheme of things. When the editors of AMERICAN HERITAGE invited me to take a look at it, I gratefully accepted for several reasons. Read more »

From Camelot To Abilene

To Owen Wister, the unlikely inventor of the cowboy myth, the trail rider was “the last cavalier,” the savior of the Anglo-Saxon race

We think of the cowboy and of the open range as part and parcel of the American legend that spread eastward from the West during the nineteenth century. Yet the legend had not become national until the early twentieth century, and its principal literary architect was an Easterner to the core. The crucial event in its popular dissemination was The Virginian , a novel written by Owen Wister and published in 1902. Its success was instantaneous, large-scale, and enduring.Read more »

America: Experiment or Destiny?

Nearly two centuries after Crèvecoeur propounded his notorious question—“What then is the American, this new man?”—Vine Deloria, Jr., an American Indian writing in the Bicentennial year on the subject “The North Americans” for Crisis , a magazine directed to American blacks, concluded: “No one really knows at the present time what America really is.” Surely few observers were more entitled to wonder at the continuing mystery than those who could accurately claim the designation Original American.Read more »

A Mere Woman

A shy Yankee named Hannah Adams never thought of herself as liberated, but she was out first professional female writer.

If they should care to, the leaders of Women’s Liberation may add Miss Hannah Adams, born in 1755, to their roster of distinguished women. She was probably the first native American woman to earn a living as a professional writer. Read more »

“General” Eaton And His Improbable Legion

Weary of his humiliating job—American pay-off man to the piratical Arab states—this bold Yankee civilian raised his own army and won our strangest foreign war

When he wrote his classic History of the United States the Administrations of Jefferson and Madison seventy years ago, Henry Adams was inclined to look with mild disdain upon some of the sudden and uncertain forays in the foreign ReId undertaken under Jefferson in particular. Moreover, this most fastidious of the Adamses was generally not an admirer of the martial spirit.

 
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