Adirondacks Park Industry: Struggle Between Classicists and Romantics Essay

Adirondacks Park Industry: Struggle Between Classicists and Romantics Essay

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The American wilderness has long been a battleground for the symbolic struggle between Classicists, who champion progress and industry and Romantics, who advocate reverence and appreciation for nature. While it would seem that the Romantic intentions were in the best interests of the environment, in actuality both ideas were in the self-interest of man. These seemingly opposing views have roots in the same motivation, the need for man to control the environment. They would eventually unite to create the Adirondack park tourist industry. This industry would become a double-edged sword, protecting sections of the wilderness from outright destruction, but simultaneously subjecting it to a slow process of development.
It wasn’t until the agricultural revolution that humanity developed the concept of the wilderness. When they began to cultivate the land they started to realize the differences it had with land that remained untouched. (Short 2005:5) The wilderness was no longer their home and save for the occasional hunting, it was no longer a source of food. The wilderness had ceased to have any necessary function. It was now an entirely separate world. That distinction between wilderness and civilization was perfectly captured in Thomas Cole’s, View from Mount Holyoke. (Fig.1)
This understanding would manifest into two different viewpoints. The first view was to now perceive the wilderness as a place of danger and the unknown. It was a place to be feared and avoided. The second view was that of a place of nostalgic memory. Humanity was now in an agricultural world, tied to the land and bound by the constraints of civilization. The wilderness was for some, the remembrance of a lost way of life that had consisted of leisure, freedom...


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...son Aesthetic.” The New York Times. Sept. 9 (2001)
Johnson, Kirk. “Painting the Pictures of a Perfect Vacation: A Vision of Lake George as a Tourist spot.” The New York Times. July 19 (2001)
Marx, Leo. Machine in the Garden : Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. Cary: Oxford University Press, 1967.
Nash, Roderick. “The American Invention of National Parks.” American Quarterly Vol. 22, No.3 (1970):726-735.
Short, John. Imagined Country. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005.
Terrie, Phillip G. Forever Wild: A Cultural History of Wilderness in the Adirondacks. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1994.
Terrie, Phillip G. Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997.
Wilton, Andrew. American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the United States. Princeton: Princton University Press, 2002.

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