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Between 1850 and 1900, Boston underwent a stunning metamorphosis from an insulated New England town into one of the world’s great metropolises—one that achieved worldwide prominence in politics, medicine, education, science, social activism, literature, commerce, and transportation.   In A City So Grand, Stephen Puleo chronicles this remarkable period in Boston’s history.Between 1850 and 1900, Boston underwent a stunning metamorphosis from an insulated New England town into one of the world’s great metropolises—one that achieved worldwide prominence in politics, medicine, education, science, social activism, literature, commerce, and transportation.   In A City So Grand, Stephen Puleo chronicles this remarkable period in Boston’s history. He takes readers through the ferocity of the abolitionist movement of the 1850s, the thirty-five-year engineering and city-planning feat of the Back Bay project, Boston’s explosion in size through immigration and annexation, the devastating Great Fire of 1872, and the glorious opening of America’s first subway station in 1897. This lively journey paints a portrait of a half century of progress, leadership, and influence.  ...

Title : A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780807001493
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 312 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900 Reviews

  • Susan
    2019-04-29 14:04

    A well-researched book that just kind of plodded along. It could have been a lot more exciting. I did learn new things about my former city though, especially the part about the Underground Railroad.

  • Christina
    2019-05-19 16:04

    3.5 stars. I read this as part of the tour guide enrichment program at the Boston Public Library. The library itself receives only two (maybe three?) passing mentions in the book, but there was certainly more than enough history about the area in which the library is located (Back Bay), the changing demographics, and the Great Fire for me to turn my one-hour tour into a two or three-hour history lesson. The type in my copy of this book, though, was so excruciatingly small that I wasn’t exactly enthused about picking the book up. Hence the half-star deduction.

  • Arlene Shulman/Lichtman
    2019-04-29 13:55

    A great education about the amazing city of Boston. The Author turned a history lesson into an incredible book. Highly recommend it.

  • Nathan
    2019-05-17 13:52

    Having lived in and around Boston for nearly all of my life, it was exciting to read a book that dealt with so many familiar topics that I had heard about in history classes growing up as a kid in New England. What made the book real for me, however, and more than just a textbook, were the smaller stories that eventually led to larger, more historical moments, but that are not so widely known in and of themselves. For instance, the story of Anthony Burns, an escaped slave, who was forcibly returned to the South in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Act after having escaped to Boston for freedom and for paid work. He was delivered back to the South by the government of Massachusetts with armed Marines despite the groundswell of abolitionist protest, which for the first time, became an actual physical force, and not just an intellectual parlor game. It seemed to me to be one of those moments, like Harper's Ferry, that takes an intellectual ideal and turns it into real life protest and dissent against a law that increasingly seemed to be anathema to everything the Constitution was created to promote.It was also fascinating to see the tug of war between the Protestant elite and the increasing population of Catholic immigrants. The Protestants, who brought so much prestige, intellectual acumen, religious progressive thought, technological insight and future planning to the creation of the city, in comparison to the much different contribution made by the early waves of Irish and Italian immigrants. These were the same immigrants who flooded the city just before the Civil War, bringing with them an Old World Catholicism, a rather bawdy and boisterous way of life in comparison the Protestant elite, and who, after originally challenging the city with rampant disease and escalating unemployment, eventually built the most innovative American city of the time with little more than backbone--literally, in the form of cheap labor to undertake railroads, subway systems, the filling in and building up of the Back Bay, the rebuilding of the city after the Boston Fire, and ultimately the realization of the American Dream, by becoming influential politicians who would take over the city, policemen, firemen and selectmen, to realize a dream which needs to be reborn and reinvented with every new wave of immigration: in the face of discrimination, degradation, and open hostility from the very country they are trying to be a part of.Ultimately, it was the contradictions in the history of Boston that came across as the most interesting part of this book. An otherwise severely regional city with an occasionally surprising international reach; a city that expands and contracts due to it's ingenuity or limitations, it's lack of population or it's swelling immigration floods. A deeply 'conservative' town, the town of the Puritans, but also of religious progressive thought, as in the Unitarian Universalists and Christian Abolitionists. A town of fervent abolitionist rage, and one in which race relations have always been one busing law away from riots. The Catholic immigrants, who were so in need of the educational institutions set up by Protestants, and the Protestant academics of those very institutions, who needed the sweat and toil of everyday men and women, to realize their ideas which would otherwise remain so without them.

  • Beverly
    2019-05-06 15:03

    I loved this book - by the author of Dark Tide another favorite of mine. It is incredible how much went on during this 50 year time period and I learnt so much and gained more insight into things I did know about Boston's leadership in the abolitionist movement and women's rights, building of the subway and railroad and how the word "commuter" came to be - some railroads offered lower fare for people who took short daily rides to boston for work - known as commuted fares. the Irish story from poor unwanted immigrants to becoming politically powerful, filling in of back bay, the great fire, how many universities came to be, people waiting in line over night for tickets - not for a sports event but to hear Charles Dickens, Filene's being known for employee benefits, and the first cook book published by fannie farmer who said "I certainly feel that the time is not distant when a knowledge of the principles of diet will be an essential part of one's education - then mankind will eat to live, will be able to do better mental and physical work and disease will be less frequent. How I wish people listened to her.Once upon a time, "Boston Town" was an insulated New England township. But the community was destined for greatness. Between 1850 and 1900, Boston underwent a stunning metamorphosis to emerge as one of the world's great metropolises-one that achieved national and international prominence in politics, medicine, education, science, social activism, literature, commerce, and transportation. Long before the frustrations of our modern era, in which the notion of accomplishing great things often appears overwhelming or even impossible, Boston distinguished itself in the last half of the nineteenth century by proving it could tackle and overcome the most arduous of challenges and obstacles with repeated-and often resounding-success, becoming a city of vision and daring.In A City So Grand, Stephen Puleo chronicles this remarkable period in Boston's history, in his trademark page-turning style. Our journey begins with the ferocity of the abolitionist movement of the 1850s and ends with the glorious opening of America's first subway station, in 1897. In between we witness the thirty-five-year engineering and city-planning feat of the Back Bay project, Boston's explosion in size through immigration and annexation, the devastating Great Fire of 1872 and subsequent rebuilding of downtown, and Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone utterance in 1876 from his lab at Exeter Place.These lively stories and many more paint an extraordinary portrait of a half century of progress, leadership, and influence that turned a New England town into a world-class city, giving us the Boston we know today

  • Sarah Giannetta
    2019-04-30 15:08

    What a fast historical read! I was a little worried reading this book at first. I had read The Boston Italians by Stephen Puleo before and while I enjoyed it as an Italian American and Bostonian, some parts of were so detail-heavy and slow that I sometimes found myself putting it down for The Metro or whatever else is available to read in the subway. This book really kept my interest though! It chronicles the 4 main events/stories from 1850-1900 in Boston: Boston's part in the abolitionist movement and Civil War, the Irish emigration to Boston, filling the Back Bay, and the creation of America's first subway (which I ride everyday!). So, it's really nice to read a book, read street names and locations, and be able to say, "Oh hey, I know where that is!" I spent a lot of time doing that and much of it touched me to think that almost every day, I walk where so many people walked, worked, and paved the way for our city many years ago. The creation of the subway really amazed me. I think I can say on behalf of many Bostonians the T is something we A) take for granted and B) complain about constantly even though it works more often than not. Even with its faults though, I can appreciate the T a little more because I now know how much work went into it and how difficult it was to convince people in the first place that underground travel was safe and efficient.Overall, a great read whether you live in Boston or not!

  • Terry Crawford Palardy
    2019-05-11 15:44

    I finished the book just in time to enjoy Stephen Puleo's participation in our local library's author speaking engagements. He again spoke to a delighted, large audience, addressing the highlights in the book: the incredible decade of the eighteen fifties and the abolitionists in Boston and surrounding areas, the Fugitive Slave Law and Boston's humiliation when a slave was forcibly removed from the city, the later decades that saw the filling in of the back bay, accomplished in thirty years and resulting in a planned development that cost no city or state dollars. The notable names mentioned in both his presentation and in more depth in the book awakened a pride in our region's history. He is an inspiring, down to earth speaker and writer of remarkable non-fiction and history.

  • Willis
    2019-05-15 15:48

    I took this book with me last week on my trip to Boston, to go to a conference and spend time with some family. It made the book more real and enjoyable to read it while I was actually there. I could connect what the author was talking about with the places that I was seeing. The author is from Boston and knows it well. This books focuses on a variety of achievements that first ocurred in Boston, like Alexandar Graham Bell and the telephone, the first udnerground subway and some large scale construction projects like Back Bay. I would love to read a prequel to the book covering the period of Boston history before 1850 - which would include the Revolutionary War and all its aftereffects.

  • Carl
    2019-05-09 17:52

    Did a quick data mine on the post-Civil War chapters. Very conversational and foregoes synthesis and conclusion for extended biographical anecdotes. People are interesting, so it's this attention to individual people that makes it a lively read-- as long as you can get attached to the figures being discussed. The argument doesn't always make clear connections between the lives of individuals and the movements, institutions, cultural formations (etc.) they were engaged with, so it's not the powerhouse I was hoping for, but it's definitely worth a look. Learned some things I hadn't known before, so I'm grateful for that.

  • Rita Graham
    2019-05-15 10:58

    Stephen Puleo has again created an unforgettable story of Boston this time from 1850 - 1900. I found that he was able to capture the feel of those decades by focusing on several major developments with just enough detail to express the marvel of the undertaking without so much specificity that the power was diminished. Some of the topics that he included are the abolitionist movement, building of the railroads, filling of Back Bay, immigration,MA troops that fought in the Civil War, the fire that burned most of downtown, and the many firsts all of which coalesced into the building of anamazing city by audacious, fearless individuals.

  • Lauren Albert
    2019-05-19 11:07

    Puleo has no need to exaggerate the importance of Boston during the period he writes about. One just has to look at a list of some of Boston's "firsts"--First state to have free compulsory education, first state to have a free municipal library and first library to allow borrowing, and first state to have a subway system. The first black regiment in the Civil War, made up of liberated slaves from North Carolina, was organized and led by white Bostonians. Boston was also home to some of the most vocal abolitionists. A good read for anyone who thinks Boston's importance ended with the colonial period.

  • Michele
    2019-05-21 12:51

    Stephen Puleo's Dark Tide and The Boston Italians have enriched my knowledge of Boston's history, especially for periods of the late 19th and early 20th centuries where my understanding has been fairly limited. This is the best of Puleo's work I've had the fortune to read so far. It might seem strange to cover this particular 50 year period, but it is astounding to learn what the people of Boston actually did during the abolitionist period, the Civil War, and the flowering of innovation (telephone, subway). If the "city so grand" could be "the city so bold" once again, we would all benefit!

  • Joanne
    2019-05-21 15:48

    Puleo gives us some interesting Boston history from 1850-1900: Longfellow's liberties with history and Paul Revere's ride, the return of escaped Sims to slavery in South and what that meant to abolitionists, Charless Sumner's contributions to equal rights, the Great Fire of 1872, the landfill to create the Back Bay for the Brahmins, and the early experiences of Irish and Italian immigrants to Boston). His concept of putting them altogether in a book to illustrate Boston's rise as a leader among states is weak, though, and made it a bit of a slog to get through as a book.

  • Kristen
    2019-04-30 15:00

    One of the most engaging reads in the non-fiction genre that I've experienced in years. I think helps that I'm familiar with Boston, though there was a lot I didn't know about it's history - certainly during the period this book covers. The author did a great job of pulling various threads together so you could see how history was woven - sometimes in unexpected ways. I will likely seek out other books by Stephen Puleo.

  • Amanda
    2019-05-09 14:45

    A City So Grand is compulsively readable and chock full of interesting Boston history without ever being boring or dry. Puleo explores Boston in 1850-1900--a little recognized era that bought big change. Defined by the principles of the American Revolution, forever changed by the abolitionist movement and the Civil War, and unexpectedly daring in social and technological progress, the city of Boston stands front and center in this book; a character in its own right.

  • Khrista Trerotola
    2019-05-06 15:44

    As a Back Bay resident with a love for history and city planning, I couldn't have stumbled upon a more intriguing, can't-put-down read. Not only did I learn that Alexander Grahme Bell finish inventing the telephone a block away from my adobe, that it took 40 years to fill the Back Bay, and how Post Office Square got its name, but truly found a new appreciation for the city I currently call home--and not to mention, picked up some great party facts along the read.

  • Judith Tepe
    2019-05-12 12:59

    This book was recommended to me by my son who lives and works in Boston. We are planning on moving there in a few years and are always looking for something new to read and learn about the Grand City. This was very informative, and exciting to read for a non-fiction book. I couldn't put it down. Can't wait to go over Labor Day Weekend and check out some of the spots mentioned in the book. Makes one proud to be a Bostonian.

  • Patrick
    2019-05-09 10:07

    So I'm 50 pages in and I've put this book down in disgust at least twice. I'm going to give it one more chance and I'm done. I'm having a real problem with this guy's possession with peppering every single paragraph with quotes. There are some passages where he's basically just joining together 3 or 4 quotes from different sources. Now I'm all for a good supporting quote judiciously used, but this guy is just taking the piss at this stage.Ok, deep breath...I'll give it the weekend.

  • John
    2019-05-13 16:59

    An interesting look at the major events in the history of Boston through the second half of the 19th century. He covers the abolishionist movement, Irish immigration, ESP after the famine, the filling in of the Back Bay ( a 30year effort), the growth of railroads and commuting as the city grew, and the first underground subway system in the US.

  • Amanda Linehan
    2019-05-07 11:56

    Thanks to my in-laws, I have owned this since the month it was released! However, I'm just getting around to reading it now, and I can already tell I'm going to love it. All his other books have proven fascinating, and honestly is there a bigger Boston history buff out there besides me? (and, well, Stephen Puleo?)

  • Calvin
    2019-05-22 16:09

    A nice overview introducing Boston. I would have appreciated a little more detail, but there is a lot to cover and I guess I can find other books for deeper reads into specific events. My one complaint was the repetitive writing style. Each chapter was in medias res, with some anecdote spoiling the topic. Then we'd get a summary sentence telling us what to expect, then more details.

  • Adam Gross
    2019-04-22 18:03

    Engaging reading. Puleo weaves the various episodes together well. The author is prone to pronouncing Boston's leadership in various areas without much comparison to other U.S. cities. Puleo documents the demographic changes driving much of Boston's evolution, but does not analyze other factors that would have given more context. Enjoyable and brisk history.

  • Tom
    2019-05-21 15:52

    Puleo takes readers on a fascinating journey through 50 momentous years in the life of this remarkable city. The sections on filling the Back Bay and building the first subway in America were so interesting I wanted them to go on longer. But the extensive bibliography gets me headed in those, and other, directions. One quite major shortcoming of this book: no maps.

  • Ted Brayton
    2019-05-05 09:50

    Just what I hoped for. Thorough coverage given to the filling in of the Back Bay and the subways. Little heavier than I wanted covering the abolitionist movement in Boston. Would have loved a lot more pictures of the Back Bay, perhaps a Kindle limitation.

  • Jessie
    2019-05-03 09:48

    I'm not a huge history buff, but Puleo's storytelling skills are so terrific. He is an unabashed Boston booster, but he still doesn't pull any punches regarding the not-so-great moments in the city's history. Really fun read.

  • Du
    2019-05-11 14:07

    This was an overly researched and a bit too textbooky for me. I wanted to like it a lot, and I do like the idea of learning about Boston in this time frame. It just didn't click for me. I wish it had. I wanted it to be more accessible, and it cried out for more illustrations/pictures.

  • Leigh
    2019-05-21 11:06

    Book group selection. Good read on Boston's spirit of revolution that runs through advancing civil rights, adsorbing immigrant populations, developing infrastructure and first in the world inventions.

  • Chad Walker
    2019-04-27 17:49

    Very readable, a kind of narrative history that's easy to whip through, but I could have used a little more summation/argument to back up his main point. A fun overview of some interesting episodes during this period, but the grand conclusions seem a little unearned.

  • Janice
    2019-05-07 14:49

    More great Boston history very well written.

  • Sara
    2019-04-23 11:56

    I was disappointed in this. It was a slow mover and very disjointed.