'Something Happened Here'

These are the forgotten places where something once happened. One comes upon them suddenly in the woods, on a street, in your neighborhood. They are routinely passed by–or stand too remote to be passed by at all. They were the sites of great speeches or riots or battles or social experiments. People who were there at the time remembered these places all their lives. When they died, the places became overgrown–or overwhelmed.

These places remained, but they disappeared, in one way or another. Though the event memorialized might be a century distant, these forgotten places still possess the power to excite the historical imagination. It’s a power that’s hard to explain.

In our emotional landscape, these places lie somewhere between the hallowed and the haunted. They can be found all over the country, quite apart from the justly famous, better preserved sites which are crowded with thousands of tourists each year. As for the Williamsburg-type reconstructions and historical theme parks, these belong to another species altogether.

This book celebrates these quiet places where great causes triumphed or collapsed...where disasters came upon us unaware...where great hopes took flight or fell to earth...where something new began, however wonderful or terrible. These places stand mute witnesses to the history of our country. They had their moment– and what a moment!–then time moved on, leaving only silence and perhaps a sense of incongruity behind.

Here are some of these forgotten places, waiting, all the time waiting, to be recreated in the imagination of the unsuspecting visitor. Take care. The ground may still be quaking.


All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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