Aspects of History and Class Consciousness by Istvan Meszaros

By Istvan Meszaros

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Capitals have thus set the pace for urban planning.  In the late 1630s, New Haven’s plat—nine squares of equal dimensions—strictly followed the Old Testament’s urban descriptions (Fries 1977, 66–67), as Boston was to embody the Puritan ideal of “the citty upon a hill” described by its first governor, John Winthrop. A city was a religious utopia with a covenant, as was the case between mankind and God (Lingeman 1980, 26). Another early example of careful planning is Philadelphia, the plat of which was later copied by other new capitals like Lancaster and Tallahassee.

Three of them followed for the first time an “American style”: Baton Rouge, Louisiana (the first capitol, built in 1882, was a mock-Gothic castle); Lincoln, Nebraska, and Bismarck, North Dakota. They all exhibit a 1920s–1930s skyscraper style that unites both of Hitchcock and Seale’s “American contributions to world architecture,” skyscrapers and capitols, in another example of the dual scale (nation and state) of condensation present in state capitals. Although they do not have a dome, they continue the tradition of the capitol as the tallest building in town.

That name was therefore used until a new meeting, on December 12, 1881, changed it to Juneau City (by forty-seven votes against twenty-one for Harrisburgh and four for Rockwell). The Post Office Department dropped City, making the official name of the town Juneau. Such changes were quite common in early mining camps, stressing the changing tides of popularity among the town fathers, and the modesty of fame. The founder’s name was sometimes even dropped, as in Montana. In 1864 a group known as the “Four Georgians” struck gold in what is now Helena’s main street and called it Last Chance Gulch.

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