Vanishing Heritage

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As the pictures on the following pages show, the models deserve far more recognition than they have received. They are delightful and important relics. Some are wonders of complexity, and some are clumsy and primitive expressions of simple, lost ideas. The history of America has always been a history of experiment and invention. The men who met in Philadelphia during the sweltering summer of 1776 to experiment with an untried form of government are allied in spirit with the legion of inventors, known and unknown, who came after and met the challenges of their land and their era with ingenuity. They have left us a bright and intricate legacy. The models that they submitted in hopes of fame or of the sudden fortune that other men had enjoyed in the new country speak eloquently of both hardships and genius. Some are of towering importance, and some ludicrous in their triviality, but all are singularly American works of art. Could not a freespending Congress, always willing to appropriate the seven million dollars needed for every mile of superhighway, buy the models back before they are permanently dispersed? The $13,000-odd that Gilbert paid for his lot would build less than ten feet of interstate.

Richard F. Snow