Dr. Flad is a professor emeritus of geography at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York 12604.
THE PARLOR IN THE WILDERNESS: DOMESTICATING AN ICONIC AMERICAN LANDSCAPE*
Article first published online: 21 APR 2010
2009 American Geographical Society
Volume 99, Issue 3, pages 356–376, July 2009
How to Cite
FLAD, H. K. (2009), THE PARLOR IN THE WILDERNESS: DOMESTICATING AN ICONIC AMERICAN LANDSCAPE. Geographical Review, 99: 356–376. doi: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2009.tb00437.x
I wish to thank Jane Smiley, Ruth H. Smiley, Rachel S. Matteson, and Joan LaChance of Mohonk Mountain House, and Paul Huth of the Daniel Smiley Research Center of the Mohonk Preserve, for access to their archival resources. I also extend special thanks to two anonymous reviewers, and Craig Cohen and William Wyckoff, coeditors of this special issue of the Geographical Review in honor of D. W. Meinig, for their interest, comments, and advice.
- Issue published online: 21 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 21 APR 2010
- Catskill Mountains;
- historic landscapes;
- Hudson River Valley;
- Mohonk Mountain House;
ABSTRACT. Thirty years ago D. W. Meinig argued that certain landscapes “are part of the iconography of nationhood.” From the earliest European settlement, the North American “wilderness” forged the crucible that shaped U.S. culture. By the early nineteenth century romantic aesthetic theories and nationalistic patriotism influenced American perspectives on the emerging cultural landscape. Artists, writers, and travelers sought out places for their healthful and scenic qualities as well as for moral instruction from nature. The locus of this confluence of politics, philosophy, and art was the Hudson River Valley of New York State. Guesthouses and hotels, especially in and around the Catskill Mountains, accommodated these travelers. This article examines the cultural basis of the mountain resort in its appropriation and marketing of a regional landscape and its incorporation as a national icon, with a specific history of the development of Mohonk Mountain House by the Smiley family from 1869 to 2008.