First Resorts - Pursuing...
“[A] scrupulously researched and beautifully crafted account of how nineteenth-century Americans went in search of health, rest, and diversion.” —Lena Lencek and Gideon Bosker, coauthors of The Beach. The History of Paradise on Earth
In First Resorts: Pursuing Pleasure at Saratoga Springs, Newport, and Coney Island, Jon Sterngass follows three of the best-known northeastern American resorts across a century of change. Saratoga Springs, Newport, and Coney Island began, he finds, as similar pleasure destinations, each of them featuring “grand” hotels where visitors swarmed public spaces such as verandas, dining rooms, and parlors. As the century progressed, however, Saratoga remained much the same, while Newport turned to private (and lavish) “cottages” and Coney Island shifted its focus to amusements for the masses.
Fifty-nine illustrations enliven Sterngass’s unique study of the commodification of pleasure that occurred as capitalist values flourished, travel grew more accessible, and leisure time became democratized. These three resorts, he argues, served as forerunners of twentieth-century pleasure cities such as Aspen, Las Vegas, and Orlando.
“An engaging, creative book replete with evocative illustrations and witty quotes . . . a pleasant read.” —Thomas A. Chambers, New York Academy of History
“Sterngass’s discussions about privacy, community, commercialization, consumption, leisure, and the desire to be conspicuous are important and new. With its well-chosen illustrations, this is a handsome book as well as an important one.” —Kathryn Allamong Jacob, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
“Having mined every conceivable source about his three sites, Sterngass has presented a wealth of interesting material not only about the resort experience but also about the residents, politicians, and entrepreneurs who built them.” —Journal of American History