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Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings Hardcover – March 17, 2003

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Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings + Best Addresses + Capital Views: Historic Photographs of Washington, DC, Alexandria and Loudoun County, Virginia, and Frederick County, Maryland
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“One of the best books of its kind ever put together.”—Washingtonian

“The most lavish look at any American city's lost architecture that has yet appeared.”—The Washington Star

“The stories . . . are as good as anyone’s gothic novel.”—Washington Post Book World

About the Author

James Goode is the winner of Washingtonian magazine's prestigious “Washingtonian of the Year” award. He is the author of Best Addresses: A Century of Washington's Distinguished Apartment Houses and lives in Washington, DC.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 541 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books; 2 edition (March 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588341054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588341051
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.6 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Now in an updated second edition, Capital Losses: A Cultural History Of Washington's Destroyed Buildings by Washington history expert James M. Goode is a carefully presented documentation and chronicle of the great architectural and cultural edifices of Washington, D.C., which have been lost to the endless grind of urban renewal in the years prior to 1978. That was the year in which crucial preservation legislation was passed. Packed from cover to cover with black-and-white photographs, enhancing a text which is extensive in detail, history, unique historical insights, Capital Losses is an exceptional architectural tour and a unique resource offering a kind of "window" into the architectural past of the nation's capital.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By sixtring on June 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unique and engaging, "Capital Losses" is a scrapbook chronicle of Washington, DC-- not as the "nation's capital," but as a collection of neighborhoods, people, and activities.
The book memorializes dozens of buildings lost to the wrecker's ball. Each edifice is featured in a one- to two-page chapter that includes splendid vintage photographs. The accompanying write-ups always discuss design elements, thanks to the authors' encyclopedic knowledge in this area. The story of each structure is then expanded into a discussion of the designers, builders, and notable inhabitants. "Capital Losses" is a survey of history, intrigue, gossip as well as architectural styles. That's what makes this book so fun.
The authors' sympathy for historic preservation is to a fault. Narratives hardly attempt to recognize the social, economic, and technological forces that so often make demolition inexorable. For example, the advent of central air conditioning initiated the doom of many hotel and office structures that could not be economically retrofitted. In addition, the post-war demise of downtown commercial areas also accelerated the decay and eventual destruction of many classic structures.
To be fair, an analysis of causal forces was not the intention of this volume. It pays homage to Washington's folksier history in an elegant manner. This is a wonderful coffee table book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bert Wilson on April 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was given a copy of this book for my birthday several years ago and spent hours pouring over its prose and its historical narratives. I never grow tired of this book.

Credit for this work goes to its author who has accomplished the near to impossible - an engaging and personal history of Washington DC told through the destroyed architecture and the people behind the buildings and their creation. The illustrations are gorgeous, but its Goode's way with worlds that allows the reader to lose themselves in the history of the buildings profiled.

I would imagine that this type of book in the wrong hands would become an academic tome, dry and technical. Goode brings the people of the District to life for the reader, and compels the reader to look for more.

If the book fails, it is in the lack of a comprehensive map of the whole District of Columbia. If you are not familiar with the streets and layout of the city (itself genius) then the book can be confusing.

Ideally, I would suggest this as a gift to anyone interested in history, city planning, government or historical architecture.
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By Bookworm70 on February 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I saw this book at the National Gallery tagged at 100 Dollars. It was a heavy book
and therefore I simply left it, but the pictures inside haunted me for a long time,
and now finally a copy in Amazon for a cheaper prize.

Washington D.C. prior to the rise of modern buildings,(some of them were really ugly)
was a very quaint city. Filled with beautiful houses and places of worship. However,
the winds of modernization obliterated them and this was a terrible loss for the
capital city.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
As a native of Washington, D.C., I remember some of the edifices which have been 'replaced'. I was delighted to be introduced to it by another 'local' who is even a 'bit longer in the tooth' than I am. It's much more than just a coffee table reference. Glad I stumbled onto it !!
Kathryn
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By Alan W. Cashell on February 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We are lucky to have this compendium of photographs. I was glad to find a used copy of this otherwise expensive volume. It was slightly more worn than I expected but it was basically in good condition and it will be used as a valuable reference.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Deason on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As you pour over all the wonderful black and white images and run you eyes over the artistry and talent it took to create most of these long gone structures you can help, but pause and take a deep breath. This book has scholarly, exhaustively researched text that enlighens and educates the reader. I agree with one articulate reviewer that stated that the author did not make allowances for market forces and changing times, but having said that, I do believe that most of these buildings could have been saved and used for other purposes, I mean the retrofited old buildings in NYC and Boston, why not Washington. The destruction of so many buildings is unconscionable, and when you see the buildings that replaced them all you do is stare. I was not around in the sixties so i didnt witness the worst of this senceless destruction, but i know that here in Houston, even today, great old buildings are never totally safe, it's no wonder Europeans don't get us, as an American i don't get us either. Highly recommended..the book and perservation.
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