Walking connects the rhythms of urban life to the configuration of urban spaces. As the contributors and editors show in Walking in Cities, walking also reflects the systematic inequalities that order contemporary urban life. Walking has different meanings because it can be a way of temporarily “taking possession” of urban space, or it can make the relatively powerless more vulnerable to crime. The essays in Walking in Cities explore how walking intersects with sociological dimensions such as gender, race and ethnicity, social class, and power.
Various chapters explorethe flâneuse, or female urban drifter, in Tehran’s shopping malls; Hispanic neighborhoods in New York, San Diego, and El Paso; and the intra-neighborhood and inter-class dynamics of gentrification in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.The essays in Walking in Cities provide important lessons about urban life.
In Ways to the West, Tim Sullivan embarks on a car-less road trip through the Intermountain West, exploring how the region is taking on what may be its greatest challenge: sustainable transportation. Combining personal travel narrative, historical research, and his professional expertise in urban planning, Sullivan takes a critical yet optimistic and often humorous look at how contemporary Western cities are making themselves more hospitable to a life less centered on the personal vehicle.
The modern West was built by the automobile, but so much driving has jeopardized the West’s mystic hold on the American future. At first, automobility heightened the things that made the West great, but love became dependence, and dependence became addiction. Via his travels by bicycle, bus, and train through Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, Boise, Salt Lake City, and Portland, Sullivan captures the modern transportation evolution taking place across the region and the resulting ways in which contemporary Western communities are reinterpreting classic American values like mobility, opportunity, adventure, and freedom.
Finding a West created, lost, and reclaimed, Ways to the West will be of great interest to anyone curious about sustainable transportation and the history, geography, and culture of the American West.
As long as humans have existed, they’ve worked and competed with plants to shape their surroundings. As cities developed and expanded, their diverse spaces were covered with and colored by weeds. In Weeds, Zachary J. S. Falck presents a comprehensive history of “happenstance plants” in American urban environments. Beginning in the late nineteenth century and continuing to the present, he examines the proliferation, perception, and treatment of weeds in metropolitan centers from Boston to Los Angeles.
In dynamic city ecosystems, population movements and economic cycles establish and transform habitats where vegetation continuously changes. Americans came to associate weeds with infectious diseases and allergies, illegal dumping, vagrants, drug dealers, and decreased property values. Local governments and citizens’ groups attempted to eliminate unwanted plants to better their urban environments and improve the health and safety of inhabitants. Over time, a growing understanding of the natural environment made “happenstance plants” more tolerable and even desirable.
In the twenty-first century, scientists have warned that the effects of global warming and the heat-trapping properties of cities are producing more robust strains of weeds. Falck shows that nature continues to flourish where humans have struggled: in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in the abandoned homes of the California housing bust, and alongside crumbling infrastructure. Weeds are here to stay.