Two hundred and thirty-four striking photographs of the port of Boston combine with interpretive commentary to recapture the flavor, buoyancy, and excitement of the city’s years as one of the two or three great American ports. After the Civil War Boston underwent a radical and successful transformation from a declining mercantile home port to an important and competitive modern seaport. At the same time the transition from sail to steam was taking place. Photographic studies of deep water sail and steam vessels, naval ships, fishing boats, catboats, tugs, schooners, and sloops, and of the picturesque wharves—all create a kaleidoscopic visual history of these years of change.
The volume offers, as well, some of the most distinguished early work in photography, including the widest selection ever published of photographs by pioneer marine photographer Nathaniel Stebbins.
Easily the best collection of historical marine photographs published in many years… This book gives a wonderfully representative cross section of a busy East Coast seaport in the last half of the nineteenth century.
Following Bunting’s text is rather like being taken on a tour of a port by a venerable harbor pilot. Crisp and competent, he directs your attention to features which must be instantly obvious to him but would be overlooked by the novice.
Although the author and compiler of this wonderful book states that it is a book of photographs, it is far more than that. It is a lovingly told story of a port—Boston—through the lenses of old-time photographers, contemporary accounts, and well-written research.
One can fish happily and enjoyably in these pages; something good comes up on every page. But it is better to bathe, for by doing so the reader gains an admirable idea of what happened to the port of Boston.
[This is the] first paperback edition of a marvellous book of photographs, with annotations, interpretations and brief essays by an expert who loves his subject. No other book I know evokes the maritime history of the Atlantic coast so well.
This book includes a marvelous collection of…illustrations, which along with the text by W. H. Bunting, the compiler and annotator, provide a most impressive Portrait of a Port… It is a beautiful book.
I confess to owning a trio of copies [of this book]—one in the living room on my shelf of favorites, a grimy research copy in the studio, and a third to lend. You may ask, ‘Why would a book published nearly a quarter of a century ago warrant another review?’ Out-of-print for some time, new readers ought to know of its re-issue, for it is chock full of marvelous photographs selected with love and care and contains writing of the most informative and entertaining nature.
Considerably more substantial, both in size and content, than most pictorial maritime histories, this handsomely produced volume is most certainly not just another ‘coffee-table book’ …[It is] delightful for the browser [and] gratifyingly informative.
- 538 pages
- 7-3/4 x 9 inches
- Belknap Press
- Compiled by W. H. Bunting
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