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America: A Visual Journey Hardcover – January 1, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 ratings

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Hardcover, January 1, 2010

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About the Author

Tanya Lloyd Kyi is a freelance graphic designer and writer. She grew up in Creston, British Columbia, but now lives in Vancouver. 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


It took European explorers centuries to realize the breadth and scope of this land. Spanish sailors skirting the Atlantic coast in the early 1500s, stocking their holds with sea turtles and charting the shores of the Florida Keys, would never have imagined that islands half a world away would one day be part of the same nation. In fact, they did not yet guess the existence of Hawaii. Captain James Cook would not reach these islands for another two centuries.

Even in the late 1700s, when America's eastern coast was dotted with farming towns and fishing villages, when thirteen newborn states won their independence from Britain, when Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, few paused to think beyond the Appalachians. No one imagined the northern coastlines of Alaska, then home to native peoples and a tiny village of hardy Russian settlers. Few even thought of the great plains of the west. It wasn't until 1805, when Shoshone guide Sacagawea strapped her baby to her back and took army officers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on an unprecedented transcontinental journey, that most Americans began to realize the extent of the continent.

How could they have known? Before the railway forged through the mountain passes, before highways girded the towns, and long before jets crisscrossed the skies, how could these new arrivals grasp numbers that seem unimaginable even now? Modern America encompasses 3,717,796 square miles, almost 110 times the land mass of Britain. This vast territory is bordered for more than 2,000 miles by the Atlantic Ocean, for 1,630 by the Gulf of Mexico, and for 1,290 by the Pacific. Alaska is skirted by another 6,6110 miles of water.

Satellites and navigation instruments can now verify these numbers. They show those tiny eastern settlements grown into metropolises, and people traveling back and forth across the continent as if it was small. These same systems reveal some things that are unchanged. Between the human achievements -- the neon lights of New York City and the Strip of Las Vegas, the Memorial Arch of St. Louis and the carved portraits of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota -- there lie landmarks untouched by the centuries. On the shores of California, redwoods that were seedlings 2,000 years ago were already towering hundreds of feet high when missionaries arrived along the coast. To the Shenandoah Mountains, born when the earth's crust was thrust upward over a billion years ago, the entire history of human habitation is a mere heartbeat.

Places such as these remain unchanged by the last few centuries. Yet as progress poured over the passes and as America's population grew exponentially, many of the nation's natural sites were threatened. Often, it was the will of a single individual that ensured the land's preservation. In the 1890s, explorer George Bird Grinnell watched as homesteads and mining operations ate away at the edges of the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Thanks to his efforts, the government established Glacier National Park. Behind Acadia National Park in Maine lies the vision of George B. Dorr, a New England businessman who dedicated more than four decades to fund-raising for the preserve. Perhaps the most influential conservationist in American history was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was so inspired by the grasslands of North Dakota that he designated 18 national monuments during his presidency.

At some point, every American is likely to fall in love with an outdoor retreat, whether it's a regional campground, a backcountry stream, or a national park. And visitors quickly discover their own favorites. The pages of America: A Visual Journey celebrate such places. From the glaciers of Alaska and the beaches of California to the Florida Everglades and the shores of the Great Lakes, these images honor the landscapes of a nation -- both its wild spaces and its communities -- which remain as diverse as its people.

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Product details

  • Publisher : Whitecap America; Revised edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 192 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1552857263
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1552857267
  • Item Weight : 3.75 pounds
  • Dimensions : 10.22 x 1.02 x 13.86 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 16 ratings

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