A Brave New World?

It was an interesting choice of wording by Dyke Hendrickson in the article about Newburyport Development’s plans for Fowle’s News.      It is commonly been used in the past as an element of irony showing a future that is quite not right.  

It was first referenced by William Shakespeare in The Tempest,  Act V, Scene I:

O wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world!

That has such people in it!

The character Miranda was raised for most of her life on an isolated island, and the only people she ever knew were her father and his servants, an enslaved savage and a spirit. When she sees other people for the first time, she is understandably overcome with excitement, and utters, among other praise, the famous line above. However, what she is actually observing is not men acting in a refined or civilized manner, but rather drunken sailors staggering off the wreckage of their ship.     This irony was very prophetic for we now know looking back at the Brave New World of Columbus’ time that entire Indian nations were wiped off the map just from European diseases and the America’s transformed and not necessarily all for the good.

More recently in history, Aldous Huxley conveyed the same irony in his famous novel of the future, Brave New World.    Advances in science and technology that gives a future that is bereft of culture and history.

I am postulating that Newburyport’s Development indeed is setting the stage for a new future in which our historic past is being trampled down for raw commercialism.     The very past that has set the stage for so much economic prosperity is now to be crassly cast aside.     As much as he was criticized, Walter Beinecke, Jr  who the Lagasse’s brought in as an historic preservation consultant, would not have approved.      

“We moved here, and we liked old buildings,” Ann Lagasse says. “We saw some opportunities. This town has the best collection of Federalist-style buildings in the nation, and we wanted to preserve that.”
                                                                  -Ann Lagasse, Northshore Magazine, “Newburyport Rising Tide”, by Bryan McGonigle

How far they have fallen in their original aim for Newburyport!   Who has steered them toward this ruinous end?       Who knew that the CVS expansion was the beginning of their new direction?

By severing Newburyport from its historic connections, ND has sent a message that money is everything, culture is to be spurned and history is to be discarded and worst of all, our community’s concerns to be cast aside.                

O brave new world!

That has such people in it.

-P. Preservationist

PS. As for the fate of the exterior façade of the Fowle’s News stand, this will be the first test under the City’s new sign ordinance that was carried over from the NRA.       Newburyport Development needs to retain the exterior signage and should be obligated to ‘restore’ it.


About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
This entry was posted in Art & Culture, Businesses, Developers, Downtown, Health and wellness, Heritage Tourism, Organizations. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Brave New World?

  1. SDS says:


    it really is a shame to see the newstand close. even though i am a full member of the technology world, i even work in the field, i still purchase a newspaper every morning. and i buy a bunch of magazines on a monthly basis, i love being able to walk into Fowles and browse, I can always find something I then read cover to cover (generally military history). the only other place like the newstand that I know of is Out of Town News in Cambridge. although I can subscribe to the ones that I really want, i don’t usually purchase the same one each time.

    But it could certainly be worse, I think NED wanted to replace the restaurant with one that customers would actually go to, the last incarnation of Fowles was pretty empty most days. If Cathy’s Country Kitchen does move in that will be a good upgrade for the city, the food at their present place is excellent. They make their own bread and pastries and the menu always has interesting specials. And the pancakes are fantastic (and the size of the plate, which is not small).


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