City and country

We think about the city and the country as opposites, but they have more to do with one another than you would expect.

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The landscape remade, Thiebaud’s <em>Ponds and Streams</em>
The landscape remade, Thiebaud’s Ponds and Streams

Can the commonplace working farmland of California's Sacramento River Valley be a place of of breathtaking beauty?

Inventing America, Colt’s Experimental Pocket Pistol
Inventing America, Colt’s Experimental Pocket Pistol

The gun that "won the West" also transformed American manufacturing and marketing.

Cheap thrills: Coney Island during the Great Depression
Cheap thrills: Coney Island during the Great Depression

According to the artist (Reginald Marsh), at Coney Island, “The best show is the people themselves.”

Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite, and the battle for National Parks
Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite, and the battle for National Parks

Captured here in paint, this grand Californian landscape would soon disappear under water.

Transforming and honoring the environment at <em>Spiral Jetty</em>
Transforming and honoring the environment at Spiral Jetty

Drought and rain govern when this work of art in Utah’s Great Salt Lake can be seen.

“Leave it as it is”: Yellowstone and the creation of the National Parks
“Leave it as it is”: Yellowstone and the creation of the National Parks

In order to capture the beauty of America’s national parks, Brown faced the prejudices of the lawless West.

A breath of fresh air: industrialization and New York’s Central Park
A breath of fresh air: industrialization and New York’s Central Park

To bring “polite sociability” to the city, designers blended nature’s greatest hits into one ambitious park.

As contested as the nation: understanding <em>American Gothic</em>
As contested as the nation: understanding American Gothic

Though often thought of as a simple image of American values, this painting resists easy interpretation.

Becoming a city: daily life in 1820, Brooklyn
Becoming a city: daily life in 1820, Brooklyn

This snowy image of a bygone Brooklyn is sprinkled with farm animals, townspeople... and casual racism.

A Landmark Decision: Penn Station and architectural heritage
A Landmark Decision: Penn Station and architectural heritage

New York put growth ahead of all else, resulting in the loss of important historic buildings, like Penn Station.

Skyscrapers, cars, and American ambition: The Chrysler Building
Skyscrapers, cars, and American ambition: The Chrysler Building

The Art Deco style of this skyscraper was urbane and luxurious—a swansong of glamor as the Great Depression hit.

Slums of New York: Jacob Riis and the Progressive era
Slums of New York: Jacob Riis and the Progressive era

Riis snapped photos of the urban poor during midnight police raids—but only because he cared.