A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900 (Paperback)
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A fantastic history of Boston whether you have read extensively on the city or if this is your first real exposure to the greatness that is Boston.— From Pete
A lively history of Boston’s emergence as a world-class city—home to the likes of Frederick Douglass and Alexander Graham Bell—by a beloved Bostonian historian
“It’s been quite a while since I’ve read anything—fiction or nonfiction—so enthralling.”—Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Shutter Island
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.
About the Author
Stephen Puleo is the author of the Boston Globe best seller The Boston Italians and of the critically acclaimed Boston-area best seller Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. A former award-winning newspaper reporter and contributor to American History magazine, he holds a master’s degree in history and teaches at Suffolk University. He and his wife, Kate, live in the Boston area.
“It’s been quite a while since I’ve read anything—fiction or nonfiction—so enthralling.”
“Stephen Puleo’s new book is more evidence of the urban role in civilization, as it reminds us of the remarkable accomplishments of late nineteenth-century Boston.”
—Edward Glaeser, The New Republic
“Stephen Puleo, a historian of Boston who has written about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 and the Italian community in the North End, takes a wider view in his new book, A City So Grand. The cast of characters includes Frederick Douglass and Alexander Graham Bell. The Big Dig equivalents are the opening of the city’s underground subway system and the Great Boston Railroad Jubilee marking the beginning of train service to Montreal and Chicago.”
—Jan Gardner, The Boston Globe
“‘No period in Boston’s history was more dynamic’ than the second half of the 19th century, writes Puleo in this smoothly narrated account of that time and place. . . . Despite tensions and disasters, Boston emerged as one of the world’s leading cities. . . . A thorough history.”