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Railroad Stations: The Buildings That Linked the Nation (Library of Congress Visual Sourcebooks) Hardcover – November 14, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Railroad Stations is the most comprehensive single published source of images of American railroad stations and is a necessary addition to the library of anyone interested in railroad architecture and the combination of railroad history, architecture, and engineering. I look forward to future additions to this important and unusual series, for which W. W. Norton should be commended. (APT Bulletin: Journal of Preservation Technology)

[I]ndispensable for architecture and transportation collections and a useful reference for others... Highly recommended. (CHOICE)

Railroad Stations is more than just a comprehensive, beautifully-produced, and geographically diverse large format book; its ultimate value is its smooth integration with an online image gallery that offers readers easy access the more than 600 plans, drawings, maps, and images of railroad stations large and small around the United States. (O-Scale Trains Magazine)

This exhaustive study of American railroad architecture gathers together a great number of archival images, giving the reader a thorough idea as to how the architecture has grown and developed throughout the years. (Amateur Photographer (UK))

[A]n extremely comprehensive review....[S]hows far more than mere architectural details.... [A] valuable record of a unique subject. (Heritage Railway)

About the Author

David Naylor, is an architectural historian, photographer, and a regular rider on the rails. Along with train trips all around North America, he has crossed Australia on the Indian Pacific, and traveled far north into Finland from his favorite station, the Helsinki Central Railway Station. His previous books include American Picture Palaces: The Architecture of Fantasy and Great American Movie Theaters.

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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Congress Visual Sourcebooks
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (November 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393731642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393731644
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #781,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Rohde on January 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The many images of bygone railroad stations strike us as magnificent monuments to the past, carrying us back to a time when trains, and stations, created a magical presence. This book should captivate anyone who longs to connect with the long-lost era of railroading, but there are a few caveats for the reader to bear in mind: 1) the photos were printed with too little contrast, so that most of the images seem faded and deprived of part of their power; 2) many of the photos are reproduced at too small a size to do justice to the often massive buildings they depict; 3) the selection of images is sometimes questionable, since some regions of the country are given scant coverage and many worthwhile structures are ignored while others are given multiple representations. This is an expensive book, but its production values do not reflect its price.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roger C. Parker on February 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
David Naylor's Railroad Stations: The Buildings that Linked the Nation is an important book for railroad lovers, model railroaders, and anyone interested in American history--particularly, urban history.

I've been following the Norton/Library of Congress Sourcebooks in Architecture, Design & Engineering from the first volume, and this is the strongest to date.

The subtitle, "The Buildings that Linked the Nation" is a home run, providing an historical context for the hundreds of railroad station photographs in urban, suburban, and rural locations.

These are not just photographs of railroad stations, these are photographs of buildings where both family and national history took place.

Like the other books in the series, Railroad Stations is organized in 9 regions, providing balanced coverage of cities and towns within the region. Like previous books, photos range in size from full page to groupings of several smaller photographs on each page. And, as always, the stories are told in captions.

One of the most important aspects of Railroad Stations is the way that it links to an online photo gallery that allows readers to access photographs from the the books website--a huge step forward from the CD-ROM's previously supplied.

The ability to view the glass plate negatives on a computer adds immeasurable impact to the photos in Railroad Stations. Navigation is fast and easy, organized by chapters, with thumbnails that allow you to quickly locate desired photos. Most important, you can zoom in to examine photo details that would never otherwise possible.

If you're interested in railroad stations, whether you want a relaxing photo book for bedside reference, or want a fast way to access the railroad station photographs in America's largest collections, you won't be disappointed by Railroad Stations. Possibly expensive, but definitely worth it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Robinson on December 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Having just been involved in a discussion about "the best train song ever" on another site, I was delighted to receive "Railroad Stations," loaded as it is with history and dozens of photographs I never expected to find.

With this book, we learn about the significance of the railroad in expanding and uniting the United States, a new technology helping define the boundaries of a new country.

Author David Naylor brings his architectural historian eye to the book, presenting details in the text and black-and-white photos that might escape the average train passenger.

Those who curse Amtrak or the commuter lines of service in big cities may not even recognize the premier place these old buildings held in our political lives, as politicians brought their campaigns to the stations. Both photos and posters illustrate the political role of these trains; in one, we catch a look at William Jenning Bryan, campaigning in Indiana, and the Roosevelts, Teddy and Franklin, as they toured. In the case of President Garfield, his life ultimately ended at Washington's Baltimore & Potomac train station where he was met by an assassin. Naylor takes us around the country, looking at stations and the lines' importance to each region.

But stations, as Naylor establishes, served as more than passage points. They are also, in many cases, architectural gems in their own right, featuring fine columns, magnificent arches, huge clocks, statues, murals and even weather vanes. Often striking is the differences in these stations, often reflecting local geography or economic needs. The snow-covered station at North Conway, N.H.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary K. Breazeale on July 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book assuming it would be a systematic history and survey of railway station building design. It is nothing of the kind. It begins with a disorganized, meandering introduction that touches on topics like songs and films about the railroad and brings up random details like the fact that Edward Hopper never painted a train station. The author introduces important subjects such as the City Beautiful movement and the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition, but never systematically explains their impact on the evolution of railway station design.

Most of the book is devoted to a photographic survey of train stations divided up by sections of the country. Other than geography there is no obvious logic for the choice of stations or the particular photos used. Sometimes exterior and interior shots are shown, sometimes just exteriors, sometimes elevations, ground plans and or location maps. Captions for the photos are maddening in their lack of consistent information. Sometimes you are given the architect, sometimes not. Often no date is given for the building, but a date is specified for the photograph. Photographs themselves are too small and sometimes of poor quality.

After leafing back and forth through the book and reading other comments, I determined that Railroad Stations is part of a series drawn from the Library of Congress historic photo collections. You are encouraged to visit the publisher's website and from there go to links to the various parts of said collection. It turns out that most of the wordy but uninformative photo captions are catalogue information from the Library of Congress sources.

But I paid $75 for a BOOK, not a website referral. Frankly I feel my money was taken under false pretenses.
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