A Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Winner of the Bancroft Prize. "No one has written a better book about a city…Nature's Metropolis is elegant testimony to the proposition that economic, urban, environmental, and business history can be as graceful, powerful, and fascinating as a novel." —Kenneth T. Jackson, Boston Globe
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Argues that the American frontier and city developed together by focusing on Chicago and tracing its roots from Native American habitation to its transformation by white settlement and development
The once arid valleys and isolated coastal plains of California are today the center of fruit production in the United States. Steven Stoll explains how a class of capitalist farmers made California the nation's leading producer of fruit and created the first industrial countryside in America. This brilliant portrayal of California from 1880 to 1930 traces the origins, evolution, and implications of the fruit industry while providing a window through which to view the entire history of California. Stoll shows how California growers assembled chemicals, corporations, and political influence to bring the most perishable products from the most distant state to the great urban markets of North America. But what began as a compromise between a beneficent environment and intensive cultivation ultimately became threatening to the soil and exploitative of the people who worked it. Invoking history, economics, sociology, agriculture, and environmental studies, Stoll traces the often tragic repercussions of fruit farming and shows how central this story is to the development of the industrial countryside in the twentieth century.
What caused the rise of Chicago, and how did the city's expansion fuel the westward movement of the American frontier – and influence the type of society that evolved as a result? Nature's Metropolis emerged as a result of William Cronon asking and answering those questions, and the work can usefully be seen as an extended example of the critical thinking skill of problem-solving in action. Cronon navigates a path between the followers of Frederick Jackson Turner, author of the thesis that American character was shaped by the experience of the frontier, and revisionists who sought to suggest that the rugged individualism Turner depicted as a creation of life in the West was little but a fiction. For Cronon, the most productive question to ask was not whether or not men forged in the liberty-loving furnace of the Wild West had the sort of impact on America that Turner posited, but the quite different one of how capitalism and political economy had combined to drive the westward expansion of the US. For Cronon, individualism was scarcely even possible in a capitalist machine in which humans were little more than cogs, and the needs and demands of capital, not capitalists, prevailed. Nature's Metropolis, then, is a work in which the rise of Chicago is explained by generating alternative possibilities, and one that uses a rigorous study of the evidence to decide between competing solutions to the problem. It is also a fine work of interpretation, for a large part of Cronon's argument revolves around his attempt to define exactly what is rural, and what is urban, and how the two interact to create a novel economic force.
Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize Changes in the Land offers an original and persuasive interpretation of the changing circumstances in New England's plant and animal communities that occurred with the shift from Indian to European dominance. With the tools of both historian and ecologist, Cronon constructs an interdisciplinary analysis of how the land and the people influenced one another, and how that complex web of relationships shaped New England's communities.
In 1896, a small group of prospectors discovered a stunningly rich pocket of gold at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers, and in the following two years thousands of individuals traveled to the area, hoping to find wealth in a rugged and challenging setting. Ever since that time, the Klondike Gold Rush - especially as portrayed in photographs of long lines of gold seekers marching up Chilkoot Pass - has had a hold on the popular imagination. In this first environmental history of the gold rush, Kathryn Morse describes how the miners got to the Klondike, the mining technologies they employed, and the complex networks by which they obtained food, clothing, and tools. She looks at the political and economic debates surrounding the valuation of gold and the emerging industrial economy that exploited its extraction in Alaska, and explores the ways in which a web of connections among America�s transportation, supply, and marketing industries linked miners to other industrial and agricultural laborers across the country. The profound economic and cultural transformations that supported the Alaska-Yukon gold rush ultimately reverberate to modern times. The story Morse tells is often narrated through the diaries and letters of the miners themselves. The daunting challenges of traveling, working, and surviving in the raw wilderness are illustrated not only by the miners� compelling accounts but by newspaper reports and advertisements. Seattle played a key role as �gateway to the Klondike.� A public relations campaign lured potential miners to the West and local businesses seized the opportunity to make large profits while thousands of gold seekers streamed through Seattle. The drama of the miners� journeys north, their trials along the gold creeks, and their encounters with an extreme climate will appeal not only to scholars of the western environment and of late-19th-century industrialism, but to readers interested in reliving the vivid adventure of the West�s last great gold rush.
One of the oldest metropolitan areas in North America, Montreal has evolved from a remote fur trading post in New France into an international center for services and technology. A city and an island located at the confluence of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers, it is uniquely situated to serve as an international port while also providing rail access to the Canadian interior. The historic capital of the Province of Canada, once Canada’s foremost metropolis, Montreal has a multifaceted cultural heritage drawn from European and North American influences. Thanks to its rich past, the city offers an ideal setting for the study of an evolving urban environment. Metropolitan Natures presents original histories of the diverse environments that constitue Montreal and it region. It explores the agricultural and industrial transformation of the metropolitan area, the interaction of city and hinterland, and the interplay of humans and nature. The fourteen chapters cover a wide range of issues, from landscape representations during the colonial era to urban encroachments on the Kahnawake Mohawk reservation on the south shore of the island, from the 1918–1920 Spanish flu epidemic and its ensuing human environmental modifications to the urban sprawl characteristic of North America during the postwar period. Situations that politicize the environment are discussed as well, including the economic and class dynamics of flood relief, highways built to facilitate recreational access for the middle class, power-generating facilities that invade pristine rural areas, and the elitist environmental hegemony of fox hunting. Additional chapters examine human attempts to control the urban environment through street planning, waterway construction, water supply, and sewerage.
Case studies from cities on five continents demonstrate the advantages of thinking comparatively about urban environments. The global discourse around urban ecology tends to homogenize and universalize, relying on such terms as “smart cities,” “eco-cities,” and “resilience,” and proposing a “science of cities” based largely on information from the Global North. Grounding Urban Natures makes the case for the importance of place and time in understanding urban environments. Rather than imposing a unified framework on the ecology of cities, the contributors use a variety of approaches across a range of of locales and timespans to examine how urban natures are part of—and are shaped by—cities and urbanization. Grounding Urban Natures offers case studies from cities on five continents that demonstrate the advantages of thinking comparatively about urban environments. The contributors consider the diversity of urban natures, analyzing urban ecologies that range from the coastal delta of New Orleans to real estate practices of the urban poor in Lagos. They examine the effect of popular movements on the meanings of urban nature in cities including San Francisco, Delhi, and Berlin. Finally, they explore abstract urban planning models and their global mobility, examining real-world applications in such cities as Cape Town, Baltimore, and the Chinese “eco-city” Yixing. Contributors Martín Ávila, Amita Baviskar, Jia-Ching Chen, Henrik Ernstson, James Evans, Lisa M. Hoffman, Jens Lachmund, Joshua Lewis, Lindsay Sawyer, Sverker Sörlin, Anne Whiston Spirn, Lance van Sittert, Richard A. Walker