Stories in Stone
Travels Through Urban GeologyBook - 2009
Documents the author's discoveries of geologically relevant materials that have been used as construction and artistic elements in major cities, revealing what can be learned about ancient and recent history through such structures as the Bunker Hill Monument, a 1935 gas station, and a St. Augustine fort.
Most people do not think to look for geology from the sidewalks of a major city, but for David B. Williams any rock used as building material can tell a fascinating story. All he has to do is look at building stone in any urban center to find a range of rocks equal to any assembled by plate tectonics. In Stories in Stone, he takes you on his explorations to find 3.5-billion-year-old rock that looks like swirled pink and black taffy, a gas station made of petrified wood, and a Florida fort that has withstood 300 years of attacks and hurricanes, despite being made of a stone that has the consistency of a granola bar.
In Stories in Stone, Williams also weaves in the cultural history of stone. He shows why a white, fossil-rich limestone from Indiana became the only building stone to be used in all 50 states; how in 1825, the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument led to America's first commercial railroad; and why when the same kind of marble used by Michelangelo was used on a Chicago skyscraper it warped so much after 19 years that all 44,000 panels of the stone had to be replaced. A love letter to building stone, from New England brownstone and Morton Gneiss of Minnsota to the limestone of Salem, Indiana; from granite and travertine to Carrara marble, David Willilams brings to life the stones you will see in the structures of every city, large and small. After reading his book, you will forever look at stone buildings with new eyes.