Culture vs. Architecture Essay

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¶ … Architecture

There are certainly several periods throughout and even before current human civilization that represent quintessential examples of the greatness that existed at least at that time but even if one is looking at the entire amalgamation of architecture over the years including from the ancient pyramids of Egypt up through the newer structures of today such as the Hoover Dam, the new World Trade Center and so on. While other periods deserve the compare and contrast of this report, the 19th century certainly represents a period that deserves to be looked at on its own and in its own right.

Analysis, Compare and Contrast

The one type of structure that perhaps comes to mind for many much sooner and often right off the bat are churches. Indeed, churches of all generations and centrues are given specific and distinct reverence and analysis and the 19th century is no different. As shown in appendix I, one example of this would be the soaring Basilica of Assumption, a Catholic church found in Baltimore, Maryland. Built in the very earliest years of the 19th century, 1804-1818 to be precise, the church represents a good example of the religious architecture of the 19th century. The twin towers of the church and the demanding presence it projects as it sits on the corner, fittingly along Cathedral Road, is powerful (Boston College, 2014).

However, there are certainly other examples that can be cited. The Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts is another example. With pillar-like columns on the front on a single tower in the rear, the architecture is compact yet it packs a proverbial punch. Other churches that can and should be assessed are the Gothic Revival churches that were constructed during the 19th century. Examples of this period include the 1st Unitarian Church in Salem, Massachusetts and the Trinity Church that resides in Boston. The former was constructed from 1836 to 1837 while the other was constructed in 1829. The Trinity Church in New York, as constructed from 1839 to 1846 and with a soaring height of 284 feet, it is impossible to miss the dark and perhaps ominous presence of that church's spire, as shown in the second appendix. New York is also home to St. Patrick's church, which was made in the latter half of the 19th century from 1858 to 1879 with the towers being completed in 1888. The towers soar even higher than the Trinity Church, going up to 330 feet. The Congregational Church in Brunswick, Maine deserves honorable mention when speaking of Gothic Revival Churches (Boston College, 2014).

There is also the class of Gothic churches known as the High Victorian Gothic Churches. The First Church at Ware and Van Brunt in Boston, built in 1868, is one example. The New Old South Church, also in Boston, was built from 1874 to 1875 and is also majestic to look at in several regards. One can find a Richardsonian Romenesque church in Boston, known as the HH Richardson Brattle Square Church with another Richardsonian existing in the form of the Trinity Church, which was completed in 1877. The different types of churches obviously vary based on the colors used, the presence the churches are meant to convey, the use of towers or lack thereof, the number of towers used (usually one or two), the overall height and size of the structures and so on (Boston College, 2014).

However, churches are far from being the only flavor of 19th century architecture that one should look at and the United States is obviously not the only country that can be looked at. Public buildings, commercial buildings, skyscrapers and even houses and mills can be looked at for their beauty and features as well. However, looking just at the buildings themselves is missing the point, at least part of the time. Oftentimes, it can be sculpture or other art that surrounds or adorns the structure, both inside and outside, instead. For example, the stained glass windows or paintings in churches sometimes get a lot more attention than the structure that they are in or on. One such example is the Atelier Elvira in Munich. The building's facade features a winding and vast sculpture etched into the front of what is otherwise a fairly non-descript and average building. The fact that the building itself is not a lot to look at or analyze may cause some people to just keep walking but the overall level of detail and artistic flair is breathtaking to behold (Alexander, 2010).

Another dimension of architecture that can be assessed when looking at the 19th century in particular is how different cultures and the time periods in play can influence cultures and, by extension, their architecture as they migrate and assimilate into other areas and amongst other religious. An example of this would be the migration of Jewish peoples to the southern United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of course, the Jewish people have been around for millennia and their culture is impossible to miss, along with that of Judaism and others, when looking around the Middle East with Israel being the obvious epicenter and best example to look at. One might think that their culture would be impossible to mold and shape even if they were to move elsewhere but the move of the Jews to the southern United States, a bastion to this day for Baptists and similar non-Jewish Christian sects, is not hard to miss. The time period to focus on, per the work of Steven Moffson, is from 1870 to 1920. It was perceived and noticed that many Jewish sects engaged in a period of "reform" over this time period whereby distinctly and specifically Jewish activities and rites were deemphasized or sunset entirely in favor of a more Americanized faith. As it relates to architecture, this translated into the construction and presentation of synagogues that were present in the southern United States, with Georgia being just one example of a state in the United States where this obviously and noticeably manifested. Changes and adjustments included remapping and changing the general exterior appearance from stating the obvious, that they were of Jewish faith, to more of an assimilation-based tract whereby the synagogues blended in rather than stood out. Similar adjustments were made to the interior of the synagogues including the overall layout and this of course dictate how the liturgy and other details of Jewish services would be conducted. This often put orthodox and reformed Jews at odds, so the assimilation into America changed some Jews more than other and this absolutely manifested in the form of some synagogues obviously being changed to mesh more smoothly with the American experience while others refused to budged and wanted to stick to the traditional style even though the Jews in question were in a brand new country (Moffson, 2003).

The above should lead to an overall discussion of how some religion and peoples seek to assimilate while others refuse to change, at least in a major way, due to the other influences around them and this is often true even if the religion or eople inq question are in a new area. Some go even further and through rite of conquering and power, they choose to tear down and desecrate the beautiful works of architecture and art of others. Other cultures, instead, chose to accept and preserve. Even the aftermath of the 19th century and the American Civil war, in addition to other cultures, show that even if it is seen as many as the lowest point in American history (or the history of the culture being looked at), it is still worthwhile to preserve what is present and have it present as a reminder.

Changes and evolutions in architecture have also been influenced and created by war and conquest. Indeed, the 19th century was full of war and the outcomes of those wars obviously had an effect on what buildings were built, which ones were town down and which ones are generally held in reverence. One sterling example of this would involved the aforementioned southern United States, and that would be the United States Civil War. Not even a century after the United States was created, it fell into a civil war that threatened to tear them apart. In the end, the South lost and the North laid waste to a great many areas but the South did their own damage. Atlanta was just one city that was decimated during the war but the North saw plenty of damage as well. There was even outlier battles and skirmishes that were not technically part of the Civil War but were a result of them nonetheless and required that things be rebuilt and reimagined. Such a battle and city's destruction was that of Lawrence, KS after Quantrill's Raid. To this very day, Missouri and Kansas residents are very non-cordial and their perspective and view of that sordid day still varies greatly. Just as one… [END OF PREVIEW]

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