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Place-based Essays

Essays in SAH Archipedia are broadly grouped as either place-based or thematic. Place-based essays include overviews of architecture in specific U.S. states and cities. Thematic essays examine architectural and urban issues within and across state and regional boundaries. Like individual building entries, essays are accompanied by rich subject metadata, so you can browse them by style, type, and period. SAH Archipedia essays are comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship (born-digital and print-based) contributed by architectural historians nationwide.

Telluride

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1878, 8,750 feet), born amid a gold strike, boomed again as a ski resort a century later. The town's Victorian architecture, world-class skiing, and summer festivals have attracted a sophisticated population. Megatrendsauthor John Naisbitt has built a “mega-...

Norwood

By: Thomas J. Noel

Norwood (1885, 7,014 feet) is the hub of San Miguel County's ranching and farming industries. The hardware store, located on Grand Avenue, the main street, is an excellent example of the town's early commercial architecture. Norwood's oldest building may be the Henry Copp Cabin (c. 1886...

Dolores County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Dolores County (1881) originated with a silver strike at Rico, which became the first county seat. The Dolores River, named by explorer Juan Maria de Rivera to commemorate the sorrows of the Virgin Mary (El Río de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores), cuts a miniature Grand Canyon in San...

Dove Creek

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1915, 6,843 feet), named for the creek where pioneers found wild doves, is a small agricultural town that boomed during the 1950s but fizzled with the collapse of the uranium market. Returning to its agrarian roots, Dove Creek now puffs itself as “The Pinto Bean...

Rico

By: Thomas J. Noel

Born with a silver spoon in its mouth, Rico (1879, 8,827 feet) has been malnourished since the 1893 silver crash. Prospectors began poking around in the late 1860s, but did not make significant silver strikes until 1879. The silver bonanza spurred Otto Mears's Rio Grande Southern railroad...

Montezuma County

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county established in 1889 in the southwestern corner of Colorado is rich in prehistoric ruins, including the first United Nations–designated World Heritage site in the United States—Mesa Verde National Park. As the county's name suggests, its fabulous cliff dwellings were not...

Cortez

By: Thomas J. Noel

Cortez (1887, 6,200 feet) was laid out in 1886 by M. J. Mack, engineer for the Montezuma Valley Water Supply Company, as the county seat and commercial hub. The first house and school were constructed in 1887. One of the few county seats never served by a railroad, Cortez remained a small...

Dolores

By: Thomas J. Noel

Dolores (1878, 6,936 feet) was named for El Río de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (river of our lady of sorrows). This was a railroad town served by the Rio Grande Southern. Many nineteenth-century railroad-era structures survive, in various states of disuse. Pleasant's Old West Antiques...

Mancos

By: Thomas J. Noel

Mancos (1877, 6,993 feet) was named for the Mancos (Spanish for one-handed) River by members of the Dominguez-Escalante expedition after one of their party fell from his horse and injured his arm. Initially a ranching community, it became a tourist town catering to visitors at nearby Mesa...

Mesa Verde National Park

By: Thomas J. Noel

Mesa Verde National Park (1906, 8,000 feet) takes its name from the green tablelands with architectural ruins left by the Anasazi, a people who arrived several thousand years ago. They became a settled, corn-raising people who built extensive communities. Pit houses, the...

Towaoc

By: Thomas J. Noel

The Utes named Towaoc (1915, 5,800 feet) with their word for “all right” or “just fine” (pronounced toy yak). As the headquarters for the Ute Mountain Utes (originally the Weminuche Ute band), the town also serves as the gateway to the Ute Mountain Tribal Park (...

The Mall

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

The history and significance of the Washington Mall are embodied equally in its planning and institutions, which together have produced a remarkable urban space, continuously green and constantly evolving. Pierre Charles L'Enfant regarded the Mall as the most important element...

Monumental Capitol Hill

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson regarded the Capitol as the most important architectural component in the design of the federal city. In his first report to Washington, dated 26 March 1791, Pierre Charles L'Enfant wrote that the public buildings should be...

White House and Grounds

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

On 30 March 1791, Pierre Charles L'Enfant and George Washington walked over the area designated for the federal capital and decided on the general locale for the President's House and executive department offices. In a letter to Washington that June, L'...

Lafayette Square

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

In L'Enfant's original plan, the President's Palace projected into a large square open on three sides, a hub for seven major radiating streets. An irregular Ushape, this square was modeled on Roman and Parisian examples rather than on an enclosed park. As L'Enfant...

Federal Triangle

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

The Federal Triangle is a coherent grouping of public buildings that joins the Capitol grounds with those of the White House. Composed of nine distinct monumental structures spread over a flat land surface, the triangle area reverberates with the design lessons of...

Downtown East

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

An expanse of land between the Capitol and White House, Downtown East is an underappreciated architectural enclave in central Washington. Incorporating the oldest commercial buildings in the city, the area exhibits a remarkably long architectural evolution of over a...

Foggy Bottom

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

Foggy Bottom's origins can be traced to 1765, when Jacob Funk, a German immigrant, purchased a 130-acre tract in the area and laid out the town of Hamburgh. Also known as Funkstown, it was one of several ports located along the Potomac River, of which Georgetown and...

Downtown West

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

Downtown West represents the expansion after World War II of the downtown commercial core west of 16th Street into an area of low-rise buildings. The topography of the area is more varied than its architectural form suggests. The land rises north from Pennsylvania Avenue...

Southwest Quadrant

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

The architectural unity of the city's smallest quadrant derives from an ambitious 1950s urban redevelopment plan. Although the developers and architects undertook similar projects in other American cities, such as Hyde Park in Chicago, none has surpassed the...

Capitol Hill Neighborhood

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

The Capitol Hill neighborhood is located in the shadow of the Capitol. The extent of the shadow is subject to question, but for the purposes of this guidebook, the neighborhood encompasses the area beyond the Capitol and the institutional buildings that make...

Southeast of the Anacostia River

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

While the boundaries of the District of Columbia were under consideration, Thomas Jefferson suggested that a substantial area on the eastern shore of what the English settlers called the Eastern Branch of the Potomac River be included in the District of...

North and Northeast

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

Large tracts of land concentrated along the north Capitol Street corridor were set aside in the nineteenth century as spacious grounds for three distinct types of institutions—cemeteries, educational institutions, and retirement facilities. They were joined in the...

16th Street and Meridian Hill

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

Development of Meridian Hill, the visible edge of the city from the White House area, was the result of private initiative. In 1888, former Sen. John B. Henderson and his wife, Mary Foote Henderson, erected a house on a 6-acre site with commanding...

Dupont Circle

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

Dupont Circle is one of seven circles that appear on Pierre Charles L'Enfant's plan of the city and one of four that are of large circumference. Although it is located on high ground—a considerable advantage in a metropolitan area plagued with drainage problems—and...

Connecticut Avenue

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

The major commercial street in the Dupont Circle neighborhood has always been Connecticut Avenue. Large office buildings recently erected predominate below the circle, while late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century shops and offices, designed on a domestic...

Sheridan Circle and Kalorama

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

Sheridan Circle is among the rarest of American phenomena, a time capsule. Nothing has been added or taken away since 1920; noisy traffic along Massachusetts Avenue is all that disturbs its serenity. As Washington's population of part- and full-time wealthy...

Rock Creek and Connecticut Avenue

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

Preservation of the Rock Creek valley as an extensive and varied public park, where the natural landscape was to be used for recreation, sports, and the simple enjoyment of nature, had its genesis in plans of the 1860s to find a healthier location...

Cleveland Park

By: Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee

In 1904 a promotional booklet, real estate agents Moore and Hill boasted, “Cleveland Park is unquestionably the handsomest and most desirable suburb of the national Capital.” The area just north of the Washington National Cathedral was a favored locale for summer...

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