Jim O’Connell’s talk on “Becoming Cape Cod: The Creation of a Seaside Resort” is based on his book about the history of Cape Cod’s development as a vacation mecca. The presentation, which is illustrated with rare historic postcards, traces Cape Cod’s resort history from its discovery by Henry David Thoreau before the Civil War to the present day. The talk covers three eras: 1870-1920, on the early years of the resort; 1920-1950, on the impact of the automobile on creating a tourist region with common marketing, a plethora of attractions, and a strong heritage appeal; 1950-present, on measures taken to preserve the Cape in the face of overdevelopment.
Jim O’Connell has a B.A. from Bates College and a Ph.D. in Urban History from the University of Chicago. He teaches in the City Planning-Urban Affairs Program at Boston University. Jim has worked as Economic Development Officer at the Cape Cod Commission as well as in urban planning positions at the Boston Regional Office of the National Park Service and in Springfield, MA. His books include Becoming Cape Cod: Creating a Seaside Resort, Dining Out in Boston: A Culinary History, and The Hub’s Metropolis: Boston’s Suburban Development, From Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth. He is currently writing a book about how Boston has become a global city.