By the end of the antebellum period, Bostonians’ habit of idealizing the urban landscape was yielding to the new transatlantic fashion of realism. Rather than idealize the city, realist writers and artists such as Winslow Homer documented it in detached and comprehensive detail. The declining commitment to a collective and idealized way of seeing can be read in a variety of domains, including art criticism, psychology, and even ophthalmology. The epilogue explains the rise of realism in Boston in terms of the development of middle class cultural institutions, suburbanization and geographic stratification. Less concerned with how Bostonians saw, a new generation of reformers and censors (such as the Watch and Ward Society) became exclusively preoccupied with what Bostonians saw.
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