There is a particular fascination and nostalgia today for the metropolis at the turn of the century, and for its architecture. It has recently called forth a series of books, The Sacred Spring: The Arts in Vienna, 1898-1918, Paris 1900, London 1900, and, most recently, New York 1900.[1] The leading architectural firm in New York at the time, McKim, Mead & White, is moreover the subject of two recent books.

What accounts for this interest in the turn-of-the-century metropolis? It surely owes something to the fact that we feel 1900 to mark the start of what the largest twentieth-century cities have become. By 1900 the hiving of populations in the major cities had reached a critical mass that initiated the urban conditions we know today. By 1900, too, the technology, society, and culture of the...


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