Great Chasm

Reyner Banham

  • Corridors of Time by Ron Redfern and Carl Sagan
    Orbis, 198 pp, £25.00, March 1981, ISBN 0 85613 316 7

‘The Great Chasm of the Colorado’, as awe-struck admirers of the Sublime used to call it, is one of the unquestioned show-pieces of North American geology. The word ‘show-piece’ seems appropriate because the Grand Canyon, to give it the name canonised by the advertising of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, is a kind of permanent media-event whose skilful presentation to the viewing public is almost as important as the substance of its topography. The basic packaging of the Grand Canyon (in which the railroad was brilliantly assisted by a remarkable woman architect, Mary Colter), much elaborated since by the National Parks Service and a host of other entities, public and private, is good – but does not reach the level of such masterpieces as Niagara Falls.

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