Examining other Cultural Landscape Blogs

Through the last eight posts, we have learned a lot about the cultural landscape of our subject of research, the town of Gettysburg. 
There are other aspects of this town that deserve much examination as well, including the campus of Gettysburg College and the Gettysburg National Military Park. 
A blog, titled, Breidenbaugh Landscape Blog, examined the academic building Breidenbaugh Hall on the campus of Gettysburg College. This group took a different approach to the blog, by only focusing on one building within their cultural landscape. There are many common ideas and themes between our two blogs, but something was very different. A lot of structural changes have happened to Breidenbaugh Hall throughout the years. The building was built after the Civil War had ended, thus having little historical significance to the battle that happened in Gettysburg during that hot July in 1863. Because the building was built afterwards, thus not protected by laws that protect buildings like the train station and the David Wills house. I really liked their approach to their blog. They showed that a cultural landscape can be as small as a building, while others can be as large as thousands of acres, like the battlefield adjacent to the college. I would ask the question as to how difficult it was to find information about just one building to base an entire project on Breidenbaugh Hall. 
The other landscape blog group examined is On Great Fields. This blog was superb, and really did shed light on the Gettysburg National Military Park as a cultural landscape. While the Breidenbaugh blog focused on something small, this blog focused on a large topic, much larger than the town that we explored. This group did have similarities with ours, in that they saw the clash of the historical cultural landscape with the current cultural landscape. The battlefield looks very similar to how it did in 1863, just as the buildings in the town that we focused on do. However, the purpose for the battlefield has changed, now a preserved destination for tourists, no longer owned by the farmers, but by the National Park Service. It must have been hard to deal with such a large landscape, but the group decided to pick two major parts of the battlefield to focus on, Devils Den and the Eternal Peace Monument. These two locations are very different from each other, and really provide readers with an idea of how the park has changed. The monument was added much later, but the rocks in Devils Den have been sitting there since long before the battle. This shows that the battlefield has become a memorial over time, but one that still resembles how the landscape would have looked in 1863. The question I would ask the group is why exactly did you chose the monument and Devils Den as your two areas of focus? 


Why a Cultural Landscape?

Throughout our postings, we have talked about the cultural landscape of the town of Gettysburg. But what we haven’t really talked about is why a cultural landscape is so important and effective for learning about the past. A cultural landscape is the combined effects of humans and nature on a certain section of land over time. Gettysburg’s cultural landscape has much more to do with the human side, as humans have had much more of an effect on the area (at least in recent times). By being inclusive and looking at all of the elements that go into a cultural landscape, we can learn about all the parts of the landscape, but also how they relate to each other. This is extremely helpful when anthropologists and archaeologists come across something they don’t know a lot about in the landscape. They can make inferences about it and figure out what it is or does or how it was used based on the context of the surrounding elements of the cultural landscape. For example, a button. If you or I found a button on the ground, our curiosity would be peaked and we would wonder where it came from. We might look around, but because we probably don’t know enough about our surroundings, we probably couldn’t figure out anything about it. Now if an archaeologist was looking at the remains of a house in Gettysburg, and found a button, they could probably figure out more. First of all, they have better technology, so they could test its age and make up. Then, given where it was found, they could probably figure out who or at least what kind of person used it. Its all about the circumstances. That’s what a cultural landscape provides. The context and circumstances to figure out the what, when, where, why, and how of an item. Its an invaluable tool for discovering our past.

Mapping a Cultural Landscape

Above should be an imbedded copy of a map that we made to show the different places we have been focusing on thus far in our blog. We decided to break them down into groups. The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg Train Station, and the David Wills House are all historical locations, and the Gettysburg Hotel, Dirty Billy’s Hats, and the Lincoln Diner are all put into the category of tourism.
In case the imbed doesn’t work, below is a link to our map.


Gettysburg as a Cultural Marketplace

The town of Gettysburg and it’s rich history provides a canvas for a variety of cultural landscapes. These landscapes have been captured in pictures by countless people visiting or living in the area.   



Gettysburg Hotel, Gettysburg, PA. Photo by Anthony Wagner, 2013. Used with permission.



Lincoln Diner, Gettysburg, PA. Photo by Anthony Wagner, 2013. Used with permission.



Dirty Billy’s Hats, Gettysburg, PA. Photo by Anthony Wagner, 2013. Used with permission.

These photos were taken around Lincoln Square. Lincoln Square hosts a variety of shops and hotels visited by numerous people every day. Years ago, the town of Gettysburg and specifically Lincoln Square was a cultural marketplace where all types of people could walk around, shop and do everyday activities. Today, Gettysburg is still seen as a cultural marketplace as people walk throughout the town daily, visiting the different shops and even staying a night in the Gettysburg Hotel. Whether you are looking to eat any meal at Lincoln Diner, or shop around in a variety of antique shops and stores, Gettysburg is the place to be. At the end of a long day of noticing the unique culture of the town of Gettysburg, it is easy to see the cultural marketplace that this town has been for hundreds of years.



The Evolution of Gettysburg

The town of Gettysburg was once a sleepy little town in Central Pennsylvania. The most exciting things about it were the roads and the railroad bring travelers through, not to, Gettysburg. Then came the Battle. Troops fighting in and around the town. Then came President Abraham Lincoln to speak. Then more and more people started coming. Pretty soon, Gettysburg changed from a small, farm town to a bustling tourist destination.

Today, Gettysburg relies greatly on the tourism as a major, if not the major, source of income in the town. The town is still the same place: same college campus, same fields surrounding it (now known as the Battlefields) and many of the same buildings as we have talked about in previous posts. The train station, once a very central part of Gettysburg, now closed. Many of the houses that were present during the Battle still stand, but are now museums and objects of interest to look and gawk at from the street or cars. 

I think that while tourism and consumerism have helped make Gettysburg a wonderfully visitor friendly and open town, the town itself has lost some of its character. This is natural with modernization and happens everywhere, but I think that sometimes there is too much emphasis on making money, and that takes away from the natural value of the town. 

Overall, I think that Gettysburg has changed for the better, and that we should be lucky to be living/going to school in such a nice town with such rich history and culture. We should work hard to protect it.

Gettysburg in Photographs: Then and Now

In this post we will be examining photographs from three of Gettysburg’s most famous buildings: the Gettysburg Train Station, the Jennie Wade House, and the David Wills House. We chose these three because we have been focusing on them in previous posts on this blog discussing how they are part of the cultural landscape of the town.
These old images take us to a different time. They help us understand how the landscape of Gettysburg was in previous years, as well as how it has changed over time.

Figure A
General Daniel E. Sickles and his housekeeper Miss Wilmerding leaving train station at Gettysburg, circa 1913: Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Reading Room / Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Access Date: 13 October 2013


Figure B
Gettysburg Train Station, Gettysburg, PA. Photo by Michael Esposito, 2013. Used with permission.

In the figures A and B, we see the famous Gettysburg Train Station. The older photograph is a picture of an old Union Civil War general arriving at Gettysburg for the 50th Anniversary of the battle. The station was a welcoming place for these veterans, as well as tourists who came from hundreds of miles away to visit the town. You can barely see patriotic banners hanging above the crowd of people, and you can almost hear a band playing and the cheers of celebration. When Lincoln came to town in November, 1863 to give his address, this is the place he first saw. The station was the welcoming center to all who came to Gettysburg.
Fast forward 100 years. The train station still stands, as you can see in Figure B, but it serves a much different purpose. Long gone are the days when guests and tourists arrived in town on the station’s platform. People use cars and buses to come to Gettysburg now, passenger trains don’t stop here anymore. From putting these two photographs side by side, we learned that the train station hasn’t changed relationally in the town. It is still the “big yellow building” next to the train tracks, but it’s representational meaning has changed. It is no longer a hub of welcoming and happy greetings, it is an empty building that serves as a testament to an earlier time when traveling was harder.


Figure C
Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, Circa 1903; Detroit Publishing Company; Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Reading Room / Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Access Date: 13 October 2013


Figure D
Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg Pa. Photo by Michael Esposito, 2013. Used with permission.

In figures C and D is the famed Jennie Wade House of Gettysburg. Jennie Wade was a resident of Gettysburg during the battle, and, as legend goes, was baking bread when she was killed by a stray bullet. She was the only civilian killed during the battle’s three days. Soon after 1863, her house was made into a tourist destination, a place where people can still see the bullet holes in her kitchen door.
In figure C, we see an old picture of the house. It is partially blocked by a large trees. The sign showing tourists that this is the Jennie Wade House hangs outside on the street.
Fast forward 110 years later, the house looks the same, and the same sign hangs outside. The trees are gone, which led us to believe that maybe the owners of the house, or the local municipality thought that they were blocking a hot spot for tourists. The fence on the perimeter is gone, now replaced with flowers and a brick retaining wall. This makes the landscape look friendlier, more open for people to walk up and go inside.
Putting these two pictures side by side led us to believe that perhaps between 1903 and the end of the 20th century, there was some type of community agreement to make the town more friendly to tourists. It helps to show people the representational parts of town more clearly, so that tourists can find them easier and spend their money, or just visit.


Figure E
The David Wills House, circa 1889: The David Wills House: a Partnership of the Gettysburg Foundation and the Gettysburg National Military Park. Access Date: 13 October 2013
Figure F
The David Wills House. Photo by Michael Esposito, 2013. Used with Permission.

In both figures E and F is the famous David Wills House. This house was built before the battle in 1863, and was most famously used by Abraham Lincoln. David Wills was a Gettysburg College graduate and was the man who invited Lincoln to town to give a few remarks at the dedication of the new national cemetery. Lincoln stayed in the house and finished his famous Gettysburg Address there the night before he gave his address.
In figure E, we see the house as it stood in 1889. Although we can’t tell what shade of red the bricks are, we can see that when you compare that picture to one of the house today, figure F, not much has changed. Actually, it’s hard to see anything that has changed except for the area and land around the house. Today the house is a museum, not a private residence. The David Wills House, much like the other two buildings we have examined, tell us that in Gettysburg, buildings don’t change, but their functions and representational values do.

Cultural Landscapes In the Town of Gettysburg

The town of Gettysburg Pennsylvania is filled with a variety of cultural landscapes and events of all types.  As we discussed in class cultural landscapes use the past as a way to explain the present. The following cultural landscapes, we feel, play a very large part in sculpting the way people look at the town of Gettysburg today.

The first cultural landscape I would like to touch on is the David Wills House. This was the place where Abraham Lincoln stayed to put the final touches on the most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. The David Wills House stands to represent the President’s historical visit to the devastated town of Gettysburg. Today, the David Wills House is a museum reminding those who visit of the hope and relief the town of Gettysburg felt when their President visited. The house has recreated the David Wills Law Office and The Lincoln Bedroom, preserving the famous cultural landscape and all it’s history.

The second cultural landscape I would like to address is that of the ‘hub’ of Gettysburg. There is numerous roads coming in and out of the town of Gettysburg. One of the most famous parts of the Gettysburg hub is the train station. Abraham Lincoln arrived to Gettysburg via that same train station on November 18th 1863. The train station became a symbol of hope and their way of escape from the horrible battles that took place in Gettysburg.

Many people look to the Gettysburg battlefields to find history of the bloody battles that were fought during the Civil War. While this is true for many cases, the battles were not confined to just the battlefields. The battles spilled into the town of Gettysburg. Innocent civilians were killed by stray bullets often. Many were forced to take cover in their basements as gunfire ripped through the living room right above their heads. This event that took place in the town of Gettysburg is very striking to me and defines the cultural landscape the best. As many people fear guns and weapons on the battlefield, I can only imagine the fear that was experienced by those with battles happening outside and through their own houses.

The David Wills House :: Photos :: The David Wills House

The David Wills House, February 2009.

Dowling, Bill February 2009, The David Wills House Photo Gallery, Powered By Orases http://www.davidwillshouse.org/media/detail.htm?pid=25&catid=5



Gettysburg Train Station Photograph  - Gettysburg Train Station Fine Art Print

The Gettysburg Train Station April 18th 2011.

Mathis, Tamara, “Gettysburg Train Station”, April 18, 2011, Fine Art America by Tamara Mathis http://fineartamerica.com/featured/gettysburg-train-station-tamara-mathis.html