Paperback / softback
August 19, 2019
22 b&w illus.
9.25 Inches (US)
6.13 Inches (US)
.9 Pounds (US)
$24.95 USD, £18.99 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Stories in Stone

Travels through Urban Geology

Most people do not think to observe geology from the sidewalks of a major city, but all David B. Williams 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 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 three hundred years of attacks and hurricanes, despite being made of a stone that has the consistency of a granola bar.

Williams also weaves in the cultural history of stone, explaining why a white fossil-rich limestone from Indiana became the only building stone used in all fifty 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 clad a Chicago skyscraper it warped so much after nineteen years that all 44,000 panels of it had to be replaced. This love letter to building stone brings to life the geology you can see in the structures of every city.

About the Author

David B. Williams is a freelance writer focused on the intersection of people and the natural world. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle's Topography and Cairns: Messengers in Stone. He lives in Seattle.


"The more people live in cities, the less they see of the natural world. David Williams has neatly hacked this problem by using urban building stones as polished portals to intriguing stories about Earth's history."—Kirk Johnson, Sant Director, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

"Williams's lively mixture of hard science and piquant lore is sure to fire readers' curiosity about the built environment around us."—Publishers Weekly

"Each line of inquiry coaxes out some expressive scientific, emotional or philosophical nugget from a piece of travertine, slate or, in one Pop Art extravaganza, a gas station made of petrified wood. Makes stone sing."—Kirkus Reviews

"Stories in Stone is chock full of fascinating geologic tidbits . . . [but] how the geology is intercalated with the architectural and engineering aspects of building stone is really what this book is about and why it is a good read."—WIRED, reviewing a previous edition or volume

"Williams' record of human dreams worked in stone is as richly textured and full of life's imprints as a fossil-rich piece of travertine."—Booklist

"From a kitschy gas station in Lamar, Colorado, contructed of petrified wood, to the working quarries where Michaelangelo cut slabs for David, Moses, and the Pieta, Williams is a knowledgable and enthusiastic guide. . . . Stories in Stone invites readers to ground their intuitive sense on the bedrock of geologic knowledge."—Natural History Magazine


9780295746456 : stories-in-stone-williams
Paperback / softback
272 Pages
$24.95 USD

Other Titles by David B. Williams

Spirit Whales and Sloth Tales

Elizabeth A. Nesbitt, David B. Williams
Oct 2023 - University of Washington Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback

The Boathouse

Leslie Jackson Chihuly, David B. Williams, William Warmus
Apr 2023 - Chihuly Workshop
$36.00 USD - Hardback


David B. Williams
Sep 2022 - University of Washington Press
$29.95 USD - Hardback
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / General

Architecture in Indianapolis

James A. Glass
Oct 2024 - Indiana University Press
$50.00 USD - Hardback

Shaping Seattle Architecture, second edition

edited by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner
Sep 2019 - University of Washington Press
$39.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Mapping Chinese Rangoon

Jayde Lin Roberts, series edited byCharles F. Keyes, Laurie J. Sears, Vicente Rafael
Mar 2019 - University of Washington Press
$32.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$105.00 USD - Hardback