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Train Time

Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape
John R. Stilgoe

BUY Cloth · 304 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813926681 · $35.00 · Oct 2007
BUY Paper · 304 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813928319 · $21.50 · Feb 2009
BUY Ebook · 304 pp. · ISBN 9780813930503 · $21.50 · Feb 2009

Unlike many United States industries, railroads are intrinsically linked to American soil and particular regions. Yet few Americans pay attention to rail lines, even though millions of them live in an economy and culture "waiting for the train." In Train Time: Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape, John R. Stilgoe picks up where his acclaimed work Metropolitan Corridor left off, carrying his ideas about the spatial consequences of railways up to the present moment. Arguing that the train is returning, "an economic and cultural tsunami about to transform the United States," Stilgoe posits a future for railways as powerful shapers of American life.

Divided into sections that focus on particular aspects of the impending impact of railroads on the landscape, Train Time moves seamlessly between historical and contemporary analysis. From his reading of what prompted investors to reorient their thinking about the railroad industry in the late 1970s, to his exploration of creative solutions to transportation problems and land use planning and development in the present, Stilgoe expands our perspective of an industry normally associated with bad news. Urging us that "the magic moment is now," he observes, "Now a train is often only a whistle heard far off on a sleepless night. But romantic or foreboding or empowering, the whistle announces return and change to those who listen."

For scholars with an interest in American history in general and railroad and transit history in particular, as well as general readers concerned about the future of transportation in the United States, Train Time is an engaging look at the future of our railroads.


"In his new book, Stilgoe... examines how railroads influence their physical and social environments. He speaks as a visionary for transportation change, offering numerous examples of how a resurgent rail system based on historical example could transform America.... [A]n insightful contribution for those researching transportation options... recommended for larger public and all academic libraries with transportation collections."

Library Journal

"Here is the answer to the problem of crumbling highways, collapsing bridges, competition between trucks and autos, congested routes, commuter time increases for those who use cars, and the accident deaths of thousands of motorists, passengers, and pedestrians: Bring back the railroads!

"Stilgoe... is an expert on this subject, having laid the groundwork for his ideas in Metropolitan Corridor: Railroads and the American Scene.... The author contends effectively that trains are indeed coming back, foretelling significant cultural change."


Stilgoe takes us on a fun- and fact-filled journey to bustling cities and remote locales, encouraging us to look over the horizons to broaden our appreciation of railroads.

Joseph Schwieterman, author of When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment

About the Author(s): 

John R. Stilgoe, Robert and Lois Orchard Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, is the author of Metropolitan Corridor, Outside Lies Magic, Lifeboat (Virginia), and Landscape and Images (Virginia).

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