"Every city is an urban palimpsest"
July 15, 2003 11:47 AM   Subscribe

The wonderful online history journal Common-Place is presenting a special issue entitled "Early Cities of the Americas." Nineteen essays, each concerning a particular incident, person, place or encounter in the early life of a city, together provide a "worm's eye view" of what urban life was like in early postcolonial North and South America. Learn about vigilante justice and press sensationalism in 1856 San Francisco, or about a day in the life of a peasant family in Lima of the 1760s. Other essays concern the 17th-century "treasure city" of Havana, searching for salvation as a slave in 1647 New Amsterdam (New York), and capital punishment in colonial Paramaribo, Suriname. "Reading these essays cannot but help readers gain some historical perspective on the modern condition," especially as you see how many of the issues we associate with modern urban life (poverty, crime, bowling?) are not exactly recent developments.
posted by arco (5 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome post, arco.
posted by weston at 12:06 PM on July 15, 2003

Ooh, way cool. Bookmarking to leisurely peruse when time permits. Thx, arco!
posted by widdershins at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2003

Yes, this is excellent, arco. The story of William Moraley,"voluntary slave", is most interesting.

I like the old maps - wish there were larger scans available to see more detail.
posted by iconomy at 12:16 PM on July 15, 2003

Fantastic post. (I second iconomy in wistfully wishing for larger map views.)
posted by languagehat at 3:43 PM on July 15, 2003

A great place to view detailed historic urban maps is the map collection of the Library of Congress's American Memory Project.
posted by Aaaugh! at 7:12 AM on July 16, 2003

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