J.B. Jackson, a pioneer in the field of landscape studies, here takes us on a tour of American landscapes past and present, showing how our surroundings reflect important changes in our culture.
Because we live in urban and industrial environments that are constantly evolving, says Jackson, time and movement are increasingly important to us and place and permanence are less so. We no longer gain a feeling of community from where we live or where we assemble but from common work hours, habits, and customs. Jackson examines the new vernacular landscape of trailers, parking lots, trucks, loading docks, and suburban garages, which all reflect this emphasis on mobility and transience; he redefines roads as scenes of work and leisure and social intercourse-as places, rather than as means of getting to places; he argues that public parks are now primarily for children, older people, and nature lovers, while more mobile or gregarious people seek recreation in shopping malls, in the street, and in sports arenas; he traces the development of dwellings in New Mexico from prehistoric Pueblo villages to mobile homes; and he criticizes the tendency of some environmentalists to venerate nature instead of interacting with it and learning to share it with others in temporary ways.
Written with his customary lucidity and elegance, this book reveals Jackson's passion for vernacular culture, his insights into a style of life that blurs the boundaries between work and leisure, between middle and working classes, and between public and private spaces.