Picturing Harrisonburg examines, as no previous book has, the history of Harrisonburg, Virginia, once a frontier town settled during the 1730s but now a burgeoning urban center centrally located in one of America’s most beloved, historic, and beautiful regions – the Shenandoah Valley. The book offers a unique perspective on historical representation by focusing on how images of every kind reveal and represent a community’s evolving ideals and aspirations that change over time.
Organized chronically around six distinct themes and periods of time and accompanied by 261 illustrations, many of them previously unpublished, Ehrenpreis and his contributing essayists explore the evolution of Harrisonburg’s built environment, its iconic “places of memory,” and how idealized visions of the community were often at odds with lived reality and the historical context in which the visions arose. The informative essays and captivating visual presentations begin in 1828 and include historic maps, sketches, lithographs, and plans, a pivotal 1867 panoramic oil painting of Harrisonburg, early-twentieth-century postcards, mid-twentieth-century documentary and commercial photographs, newspaper accounts and ads, images of “urban Renewal,” then/now photographs, and the graphic designs, logos, and conceptual plans pertaining to the twenty-first-century city.
In so many ways, Harrisonburg’s urban history resembles that of other American towns and cities. As David Ehrenpreis writes, “While Harrisonburg has a unique history and distinct character well-known to Virginians, the challenges and problems it has confronted over time are common and familiar regionally and nationwide. Thus, Picturing Harrisonburg</em> offers a new approach for understanding the evolution of other American communities, towns, and cities through their respective iconographic histories.”
Forward by Kenneth E. Koons. Essays contributed by Kevin Borg, Randall B. Jones, Dale MacAllister, Scott Hamilton Suter, and Henry Way.