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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > The Land 1780-1820
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

The Land 1780-1820

1780-1820The Land

By the early 1800s, a century and a half of European settlement and land use had transformed the landscape of the eastern seaboard. In New England, town commons took on a park-like appearance and their public role expanded. Agriculture remained the major occupation throughout the nation but more farmers had more equipment and some experimented with new agricultural methods. The deforestation of much of southern New England altered the landscape and caused a wood shortage there by the early 1800s. Americans pushed the frontier farther and farther west, lured by the prospect of cheap, limitless land and economic prosperity. American enthusiasm and optimism about the seemingly-limitless potential of the new nation abounded. Industry flourished and canals, turnpikes and other infrastructure projects captured the imagination of the new nation. In the home, change arrived in the form of neo-classical architecture and floor plans emphasized a new interest in separating public from domestic life.

Plan of Deerfield, Town Plans, 1794, Vol. 14 p.25, #1118

Image Credit: Courtesy Massachusetts Archives

Explore these subthemes to better understand The Land at this time.


Agriculture : Agrarian Rhythms

Most people in the early nineteenth century still structured their lives around age-old agricultural rhythms.


Industry : Transportation Technology

Canals were monuments to ambitious financing and spectacular engineering.

Understanding Landscapes

Understanding Landscapes : A Pastoral Landscape

Generations of European settlement and land use had altered the landscape of the eastern seaboard by the early 1800s.

Public Space

Public Space : Common Institutions

By the early 1800s, New England town commons were publically owned, park-like spaces.

Private Space

Private Space : Separating the Public from the Private

The way in which Americans in the early nineteenth century arranged their homes reflected prevailing fashion and a desire to separate domestic and public spheres.


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