American Studies Home Site Map Gallery of Prints Writing Across the Curriculum Currier & Ives Introduction Currier & Ives Opening

A train rolls through an idyllic western town; a real western town with dirt roads and horses.

"Through to the Pacific" 1870

The rise of the city stole populations and income from townships. At the same time, railroads and electrified mass transit began to connect the suburbs. Small, cosmopolitan cities grew around the suburbs, along with industrial, satellite towns. By the 1880s, the number of rural towns had decreased by about forty percent. As abandoned farmhouses and villages began to dot the landscape, nostalgia blossomed. The small town became an icon of lost virtue.

The land rush in the early 1880s saw the rise of many western boom towns, which in the public's imagination were green, abundantly fertile, peopled with middle-class citizens, and flourishing. "...Currier and Ives added their voice to that chorus which sang the praises of the West as a veritable garden, ignoring the serpent of aridity in that garden...." (Cronin 321).

By the late eighties these towns were threatened as well, due to a series of natural calamities and a worldwide recession in farm prices (McDonald 588).

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American Studies Home Site Map Gallery of Prints Writing Across the Curriculum Currier & Ives Introduction Currier & Ives Opening

Site created by Marcy McDonald, American Studies, UVA. Last modified: July 30, 2005. E-mail: asgrp@virginia.edu

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