Bookshelf

Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Life and Architecture in Pitts­burgh

by James D. Van Trump
Pittsburgh His­tory and Landmarks Foun­dation, 1983 (395 pages, cloth,$18.95)

Through vivid, often keenly personal observations and intimate recollections, the man considered Pittsburgh’s su­preme architectural historian shares his thoughts about the use and origins of Pitts­burgh’s significant architecture and offers candid insights on life in the steel city in this eclectic collection of scholarly articles and intensely poignant essays. Originally published in magazines and newspaper supplements or recorded as local radio broadcasts, Van Trump’s commentaries have been combined, with inter­esting photographs, into a read­ily accessible volume by the Pittsburgh History and Land­marks Foundation (of which the author was a co-founder). Van Trump’s articles provide the historical backgrounds of significant structures and his essays recount, quite graphically, the assumptions, the classes, the aspirations and the manners of selected neighborhoods. Both advo­cates of the national historic preservation movement and social historians will find this narrative, the result of more than fifty years of study, a valu­able and entertaining guided tour to a city in transition.

 

Pennsylvania Painters

by Dr. Irwin Richman
Penn­sylvania Historical Association, 1983 (83 pages, paper, $5.00)

The great names in the his­tory of Pennsylvania’s out­standing, albeit conservative, art tradition – Benjamin West, Thomas Sully, Philadelphia’s prolific Peale family, Cecelia Beaux, George Luks, Thomas Eakins and Charles Demuth­ – are counted among the great­est names in American art and, in many cases, enjoy inter­national distinction. Those lumi­naries, their contributions and achievements, are duly dis­cussed in this book, but the real thrust of this survey is the chronicling of more than two and a half centuries of artists, styles and traditions. The book provides an accurate record of lesser-known but able and competent painters identified with Pennsylvania from the opening of the eight­eenth century to World War II (when the shift in the art world was so great). Pennsylvania Painters is not encyclo­pedic; instead, it provides a representative view of Penn­sylvania painters and their creations. For students and ad­mirers of both Pennsylvania and American art, the book is a thoroughly researched and documented study. The text is complemented by more than seventy-five illustrations, including a dozen in full color, many of which were supplied by private collectors.

 

Charles Vernon Gridley, a Naval Career

by Maxwell P. Schoenfeld
Erie County Historical Society, 1983 (124 pages, paper, $5.95)

“You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” With the famous and much-quoted command, Commodore George Dewey opened the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898. And the rest is history: the first military action of the Span­ish-American War catapulted the United States into a large role in world affairs with conse­quences that still influence the nation. But there remains one question: “Who Was Gridley?” An intrigued Erie native and professor of his­tory at the Eau Claire campus of the University of Wiscon­sin, Dr. Maxwell P. Schoenfeld knew of the park and school which commemorated Captain Charles V. Gridley, U.S.N. in his hometown. He was, how­ever, stymied and baffled when he discovered that Grid­ley died a little more than a month after the Battle of Manila Bay and left no personal papers or documents. The au­thor set out to reconstruct Gridley’s career, an arduous task which led him through the archives of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy, as well as through collections from Newport, Rhode Island, to San Marino, California. The book is a compilation of the existing – but scattered – records of the life of one of Erie’s most historical personages and features sixteen illustrations, including a rare photograph of the Battle of Manila and early pictures of Gridley which have never before appeared in print. The author-cum-sleuth traced the Navy officer’s career for twenty years, from his first assignment aboard ship in 18n to his final, and his­toric, mission in the Philippines.