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The Greatest Beach
A History of Cape Cod National Seashore

Ethan Carr

The Greatest Beach  Cover Image Look inside

About the Author


Ethan Carr, FASLA

Ethan Carr, FASLA, is professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an international authority on America’s public landscapes. He is author of Wilderness by Design: Landscape Architecture and the National Park ServiceMission 66: Modernism and the National Park Dilemma, and The Greatest Beach: A History of Cape Cod National Seashore, coauthor of Olmsted and Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition, and the National Park Idea, lead editor of Public Nature: Scenery, History, and Park Design, and coeditor of Volume 8 of The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted

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The Greatest Beach
A History of Cape Cod National Seashore

Ethan Carr

University of Georgia Press in association with LALH

ISBN: 978-0-8203-558-0 Page Count: 320
Price: $39.95 | Cloth Published: 06/01/2019

A volume in the series Designing the American Park

In the mid-nineteenth century, Thoreau recognized the importance of preserving the complex and fragile landscape of Cape Cod, with its weathered windmills, expansive beaches, dunes, wetlands, and harbors, and the lives that flourished here, supported by the maritime industries and saltworks. One hundred years later, the National Park Service—working with a group of concerned locals, then-senator John F. Kennedy, and other supporters—took on the challenge of meeting the needs of a burgeoning public in this region of unique natural beauty and cultural heritage.

To those who were settled in the remote wilds of the Cape, the impending development was threatening, and, as the award-winning historian Ethan Carr explains, the visionary plan to create a national seashore came very close to failure. Success was achieved through unprecedented public outreach, as the National Park Service and like-minded Cape Codders worked to convince entire communities of the long-term value of a park that could accommodate millions of tourists. Years of contentious negotiations resulted in the innovative compromise between private and public interests now known as the “Cape Cod model.” 

The Greatest Beach will be essential reading for all who are concerned with protecting the nation’s gradually diminishing cultural landscapes. In his final analysis of Cape Cod National Seashore, Carr poses provocative questions about how to balance the conservation of natural and cultural resources in regions threatened by increasing visitation and development.

“Carr explores the shift toward a more holistic landscape approach to cultural resource management and the broader applicability of the “Cape Cod model”—providing additional insight into contemporary landscape challenges facing the national park system today. This broad narrative is skillfully interwoven with the arresting story of the establishment of Cape Cod National Seashore, a park that has served as a model for testing a wide variety of new approaches to park making and administration. Carr has written an exceptionally readable book that is informative, analytical, and engaging.”

Rolf Diamant, University of Vermont
  • 2019 Smithsonian Book List Selection

About the Author


Ethan Carr, FASLA

Ethan Carr, FASLA, is professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an international authority on America’s public landscapes. He is author of Wilderness by Design: Landscape Architecture and the National Park ServiceMission 66: Modernism and the National Park Dilemma, and The Greatest Beach: A History of Cape Cod National Seashore, coauthor of Olmsted and Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition, and the National Park Idea, lead editor of Public Nature: Scenery, History, and Park Design, and coeditor of Volume 8 of The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted

Podcast

Listen to the author discuss this book on the Read Learn Live Podcast

Listen Here