Hub of the Universe: Boston in the Gilded Age

An exploration of the architectural and urban development of Boston from its founding in 1630 to the First World War with emphasis on the Gilded Age (1870-1914), and the creation of the city\’s urban identity with a series of great building projects such as Richardson\’s Trinity Church, McKim, Meade, and White\’s Boston Public Library, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Works are seen not only within the urban and architectural development of the city, but also within the broader context of nineteenth-century material and intellectual culture. Many of the classes take place on site in Boston.We approach these works as proposed solutions to pressing problems of the time, asking why modern identities and visions of the future were embodied in buildings unashamedly dependent on historical models. We seek to define the essential originality of Boston\’s Gilded Age architecture and its leadership in American architecture of the time. And we explore a deeper theoretical interpretation of these buildings through an interdisciplinary approach which includes the evidence of novels and poetry, opera, paintings, furniture, and maps. As faith-based organizations responded to challenges from science, industrialization, and urbanization, previously marginal institutions like libraries, museums, and universities replaced churches as the principal targets of public interest, public and private expenditure, and civic pride. We explore the profound crisis of cultural values and identity out of which emerged our modern, secular society. Because of the large number on classes held on-site in Boston, enrollment is limited. Course requirements include short \”looking\” assignments, prepared discussions, a midterm, and final exam. No prerequisites.