By Jon Scott Logel
Between 1817 and 1898, New York City evolved from a vital Atlantic port of trade to the center of American commerce and culture. Although this important urban transformation is well documented, the critical role of select Union soldiers turned New York engineers has, until now, remained largely unexplored. In Designing Gotham, Jon Scott Logel examines the fascinating careers of George S. Greene, Egbert L. Viele, John Newton, Henry Warner Slocum, and Fitz John Porter, all of who studied engineering at West Point, served in the US Army during the Civil War, and later advanced their civilian careers and status through the creation of Victorian New York.
After the war these industrious professionals leveraged their education and military experience to wield significant influence during New York's social, economic, and political transformation. Logel examines how each engineer's Civil War service shaped his contributions to postwar activities in the city, including the construction of the Croton Aqueduct, the creation of Central Park, and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Examining the West Pointers' experiences - as cadets, military officers during the war, and New Yorkers - Logel assesses how these men impacted the growing metropolis, the rise of professionalization, and the advent of Progressivism at the end of the century.