Untimely Ruins: An Archaeology of American Urban Modernity, 1819-1919

Untimely Ruins: An Archaeology of American Urban Modernity, 1819-1919

by Nick Yablon
Pub. Date:
University of Chicago Press
Select a Purchase Option
  • purchase options
  • purchase options


Untimely Ruins: An Archaeology of American Urban Modernity, 1819-1919

American ruins have become increasingly prominent, whether in discussions of "urban blight" and home foreclosures, in commemorations of 9/11, or in postapocalyptic movies. In this highly original book, Nick Yablon argues that this association between American cities and ruins dates back to a much earlier period in the nation's history. Recovering numerous scenes of urban desolation-from failed banks, abandoned towns, and dilapidated tenements to the crumbling skyscrapers and bridges envisioned in science fiction and cartoons-Untimely Ruins challenges the myth that ruins were absent or insignificant objects in nineteenth-century America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226946634
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 02/01/2010
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations




Of Light Bulbs and Bathtubs: Excavating the Modern City

1 Crumbling Columns and Day-Old Ruins:

Specters of Antiquity on the American Grand Tour, 1819–1837

2 "Even Eden, you know, ain’t all built":

Paper Cities, British Investors, and the Ruins of Cairo, Illinois, 1837–1844

3 The Petrified City:

Antiquity and Modernity in Melville’s New York, 1835–1865

4 Relapsing into Barbarism:

Labor, Ethnicity, and Ruin in Prospective Histories of Urban America, 1865–1906

5 "Plagued By Their Own Inventions":

Reframing the Technological Ruins of San Francisco, 1906–1909

6 The Metropolitan Life in Ruins:

Architectural and Fictional Speculations in New York, 1893–1919


Toward the Posthuman Ruin



Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews