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from the introduction by Alf Evers
Nothing else ever written about Ulster County has anything like the transporting power of Picturesque Ulster.
What would you give to be carried back over one hundred years and to live for a few moments in 1896 when frock-coated William McKinley was working his way toward the White House, when the horse and not the automobile was king of the highways and when the fragrance of good five cent cigars and the murmur of family conversation floated on the mid-summer evenings from the front porches of the United States? You need not give very much--you need only give the price of the book here re-published. For Richard Lionel De Lisser's Picturesque Ulster is more than a book, it is one of those rare vehicles which, with no fuel beyond a few pints of imagination, are able to pick people up and carry them safely and painlessly to destinations far away in time and space.
Picturesque Ulster is certainly not a mug book similar to those popular at the time. It did not make its appeal primarily to members of Ulster's old families. It had been put together with one eye on the summer boarders who were coming to Ulster in such large numbers to enjoy the county's lovely scenery. Most striking of all was that the book depended so largely on over one thousand photographs of remarkable quality. These pictures formed a pictorial survey of Ulster as it appeared through the perceptive eyes of De Lisser. Never before or since has the architecture of northern Ulster been so nobly documented (De Lisser's project came to an end before the southern half could be pictured). Never had the varied people of Ulster, or their varied occupations been dealt with in such detail--the series of photographs of ice-harvesting on the Hudson, for example, remains the best pictorial of that vanished industry. Bluestone quarrying, cement and hoop pole making, steamboating on the Hudson, farming, railroading and other occupations are presented. Lumbermen at work, backwoods characters -- the photograph of John Bill Rodgers and Dick Misner on page 176 is superb--summer boarders, the estates and game preserves of rich New Yorkers, hunters and fishermen, all these and many more subjects find their places in De Lisser's collection of photographs. He ignored only those sides of life in Ulster which might offend the audience he had in mind--that was why he touched lightly on the lives of Ulster's urban poor who lacked the picturesqueness readers of the 1890's found in backwoods poverty.
Originally offered to the public as an up-to-the-minute pictorial and verbal survey of Ulster County and its charms. But the coming and going of the years has changed all that--Picturesque Ulster is now republished as a means of conveying readers to a remote and seductive past. It is time to step aboard. Good Traveling--and a safe return!
Richard Lionel DeLisser with an introduction by Alf Evers. This classic turn-of-the-century pictorial work on Ulster County townships contains over 1000 b&w original illustrations, and a horseback travelogue of the back roads including interviews and bits of history. Some sections were contributed by leading experts in their fields, most notably Col. Sharpe's (of Civil War fame) piece, but most are DeLisser's accounts of the locations and people he met in his wanderings. Never before or since has the architecture, people, and their various occupations been so nobly documented in such detail. 300 pages 70# Mead Offset Enamel paper, Smyth sewn and glued, 9x12 Paper $35.00
Copyright © 1998 by Richard Frisbie -- All rights reserved.