In the second half of the nineteenth century, American cities began to go dark. Hulking new buildings overspread blocks, pollution obscured the skies, and glass and smog screened out the health-giving rays of the sun. Doctors fed anxities about these new conditions with claims about a rising tide of the "diseases of darkness," especially rickets and tuberculosis.
In American Sunshine, Daniel Freund tracks the obsession with sunlight from those bleak days into the twentieth century. Before long, social reformers, medical professionals, scientists, and a growing nudist movement proffered remedies for America’s new dark age. Architects, city planners, and politicians made access to sunlight central to public housing and public health. and entrepreneurs, dairymen, and tourism boosters transformed the pursuit of sunlight and its effects into a commodity. Within this historical context, Freund sheds light on important questions about the commodification of health and nature and makes an original contribution to the histories of cities, consumerism, the environment, and medicine.
Addressing developments in Indonesia since the fall of President Suharto’s regime in 1998, Kusno delves into such topics as the domestication of traumatic violence and the restoration of order in the urban space, the intense interest in urban history in contemporary Indonesia, and the implications of “superblocks,” large urban complexes consisting of residences, offices, shops, and entertainment venues. Moving farther back in time, he examines how Indonesian architects reinvented colonial architectural styles to challenge the political culture of the state, how colonial structures such as railway and commercial buildings created a new, politically charged cognitive map of cities in Java in the early twentieth century, and how the Dutch, in attempting to quell dissent, imposed a distinctive urban visual order in the 1930s. Finally, the present and the past meet in his long-term considerations of how Java has responded to the global flow of Islamic architecture, and how the meanings of Indonesian gatehouses have changed and persisted over time. The Appearances of Memory is a pioneering look at the roles of architecture and urban development in Indonesia’s ongoing efforts to move forward.
Climate change is real, and extreme weather events are its physical manifestations. These extreme events affect how we live and work in cities, and subsequently the way we design, plan, and govern them. Taking action ‘for the environment’ is not only a moral imperative; instead, it is activated by our everyday experience in the city.
Based on the author’s site visits and interviews in Darwin (Australia), Tulsa (Oklahoma), Cleveland (Ohio), and Cape Town (South Africa), this book tells the story of how cities can lead a transformative pro-environment politics.
National governments often fail to make binding agreements that bring about radical actions for the environment. This book shows how cities, as local sites of mobilizing a collective, political agenda, can be frontiers for activating the kind of environmental politics that appreciates the role of ‘nature’ in the everyday functioning of our urban life.
In the urgently expanding field of environmental history, two trends are emerging. Research has internationalized, crossing political and historical borders. And urban spaces are increasingly seen as part of, not apart from, the global environment. In this book, Jeffry Diefendorf and Kurk Dorsey have gathered much of the important work pushing the field in new directions. Eleven essays by prominent and regionally diverse scholars address how human and natural forces collaborate in the creation of cities, the countryside, and empires.
The Cities section features essays that examine pollution and its aftermath in Pittsburgh, the Ruhr Valley (Germany), and Los Angeles. These urban areas are far apart on the globe but closely linked in their histories of how human decision making has affected the environment.
Changing rural and suburban spaces are the focus of Countryside. Elizabeth Blackmar "follows the money" in order to understand why the financing of suburban mall developments makes local resistance difficult. Studies of the fractious history of the creation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon and the ongoing impact of hydraulic mining in the early California goldmining era emphasize the misuse of technology in rural spaces.
Such misuse is a central idea of Empires. In "When Stalin Learned to Fish," Paul R. Josephson tells the story of Soviet fishing technology designed to "harness fish to the engine of socialism." Other essays explore the failures of Western agricultural technology in Africa and the relationship between such technology and disease in European attempts to conquer the Caribbean. In a stirring, wide-ranging consideration of the neo-European colonies (the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand), Thomas R. Dunlap observes the ongoing, unsettled interaction of lands and dreams. An afterword by Alfred W. Crosby, an eminent scholar of environmental history, closes the book with a broad and insightful synthesis of the history and future of this critical field.
The weekly magazine Garden and Forest existed for only nine years (1888–1897). Yet, in that brief span, it brought to light many of the issues that would influence the future of American environmentalism. In The City Natural, Shen Hou presents the first “biography” of this important but largely overlooked vehicle for individuals with the common goal of preserving nature in American civilization.
As Hou’s study reveals, Garden and Forest was instrumental in redefining the fields of botany and horticulture, while also helping to shape the fledgling professions of landscape architecture and forestry. The publication actively called for reform in government policy, urban design, and future planning for the preservation and inclusion of nature in cities. It also attempted to shape public opinion on these issues through a democratic ideal that every citizen had the right (and need) to access nature. These notions would anticipate the conservation and “city beautiful” movements that followed in the early twentieth century.
Hou explains the social and environmental conditions that led to the rise of reform efforts, organizations, and publications such as Garden and Forest. She reveals the intellectual core and vision of the magazine as a proponent of the city natural movement that sought to relate nature and civilization through the arts and sciences. Garden and Forest was a staunch advocate of urban living made better through careful planning and design. As Hou shows, the publication also promoted forest management and preservation, not only as a natural resource but as an economic one. She also profiles the editors and contributors who set the magazine’s tone and follows their efforts to expand America’s environmental expertise.
Through the pages of Garden and Forest, the early period of environmentalism was especially fruitful and optimistic; many individuals joined forces for the benefit of humankind and helped lay the foundation for a coherent national movement. Shen Hou’s study gives Garden and Forest its due and adds an important new chapter to the early history of American environmentalism.
Current patterns of land use and development are at once socially, economically, and environmentally destructive. Sprawling low-density development literally devours natural landscapes while breeding a pervasive sense of social isolation and exacerbating a vast array of economic problems. As more and more counties begin to look more and more the same, hope for a different future may seem to be fading. But alternatives do exist.
The Ecology of Place, Timothy Beatley and Kristy Manning describe a world in which land is consumed sparingly, cities and towns are vibrant and green, local economies thrive, and citizens work together to create places of eduring value. They present a holistic and compelling approach to repairing and enhancing communities, introducing a vision of "sustainable places" that extends beyond traditional architecture and urban design to consider not just the physical layout of a development but the broad set of ways in which communities are organized and operate. Chapters examine:
The authors address a variety of policy and development issues that affect a community -- from its economic base to its transit options to the ways in which its streets and public spaces are managed -- and examine the wide range of programs, policies, and creative ideas that can be used to turn the vision of sustainable places into reality.
The Ecology of Place is a timely resource for planners, economic development specialists, students, and citizen activists working toward establishing healthier and more sustainable patterns of growth and development.
Environmental Activism and the Urban Crisis focuses on the wave of environmental activism and grassroots movements that swept through America's older, industrial cities during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Robert Gioielli offers incisive case studies of Baltimore, St. Louis, and Chicago to show how urban activism developed as an impassioned response to a host of racial, social, and political conflicts. As deindustrialization, urban renewal, and suburbanization caused the decline of the urban environment, residents--primarily African Americans and working-class whites--organized to protect their families and communities from health threats and environmental destruction.
Gioielli examines various groups' activism in response to specific environmental problems caused by the urban crisis in each city. In doing so, he forms concrete connections between environmentalism, the African American freedom struggle, and various urban social movements such as highway protests in Baltimore and air pollution activism in Chicago. Eventually, the efforts of these activists paved the way for the emergence of a new movement-environmental justice.
Everyday Environmentalism develops a conversation between marxist theories of everyday life and recent work in urban political ecology, arguing for a philosophy of praxis in relation to the politics of urban environments. Grounding its theoretical debate in empirical studies of struggles to obtain water in the informal settlements of Durban, South Africa, as well as in the creative acts of insurgent art activists in London, Alex Loftus builds on the work of key marxist thinkers to redefine “environmental politics.”
A marxist philosophy of praxis—that world-changing ideas emerge from the acts of everyday people—undergirds the book. Our daily reality, writes Loftus, is woven out of the entanglements of social and natural relations, and as such a kind of environmental politics is automatically incorporated into our lives. Nevertheless, one effect of the public recognition of global environmental change, asserts Loftus, has been a resurgence of dualistic understandings of the world: for example, that nature is inflicting revenge on arrogant human societies.
This ambitious work reformulates—with the assistance of such philosophers as Lukács, Gramsci, Lefebvre, and others—a politics of the environment in which everyday subjectivity is at the heart of a revolutionary politics.
Joseph considers New York's relation to the water that surrounds and defines it. Her reflections reach back to the city's heyday as a world-class port—a past embodied in a Dutch East India Company cannon recently unearthed from the rubble at the World Trade Center site—and they encompass the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. They suggest that New York's future lies in the reclamation of its great water resources—for artistic creativity, civic engagement, and ecological sustainability.
As the need to confront unplanned growth increases, planners, policymakers, and citizens are scrambling for practical tools and examples of successful and workable approaches. Growth management initiatives are underway in the U.S. at all levels, but many American "success stories" provide only one piece of the puzzle. To find examples of a holistic approach to dealing with sprawl, one must turn to models outside of the United States.
In Green Urbanism, Timothy Beatley explains what planners and local officials in the United States can learn from the sustainable city movement in Europe. The book draws from the extensive European experience, examining the progress and policies of twenty-five of the most innovative cities in eleven European countries, which Beatley researched and observed in depth during a year-long stay in the Netherlands. Chapters examine:
Throughout, Beatley focuses on the key lessons from these cities -- including Vienna, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Zurich, Amsterdam, London, and Berlin -- and what their experience can teach us about effectively and creatively promoting sustainable development in the United States. Green Urbanism is the first full-length book to describe urban sustainability in European cities, and provides concrete examples and detailed discussions of innovative and practical sustainable planning ideas. It will be a useful reference and source of ideas for urban and regional planners, state and local officials, policymakers, students of planning and geography, and anyone concerned with how cities can become more livable.
Most people equate Los Angeles with smog, sprawl, forty suburbs in search of a city-the great "what-not-to-do" of twentieth-century city building. But there's much more to LA's story than this shallow stereotype. History shows that Los Angeles was intensely, ubiquitously planned. The consequences of that planning-the environmental history of urbanism--is one place to turn for the more complex lessons LA has to offer.
Working forward from ancient times and ancient ecologies to the very recent past, Land of Sunshine is a fascinating exploration of the environmental history of greater Los Angeles. Rather than rehearsing a litany of errors or insults against nature, rather than decrying the lost opportunities of "roads not taken," these essays, by nineteen leading geologists, ecologists, and historians, instead consider the changing dynamics both of the city and of nature.
In the nineteenth century, for example, "density" was considered an evil, and reformers struggled mightily to move the working poor out to areas where better sanitation and flowers and parks "made life seem worth the living."
We now call that vision "sprawl," and we struggle just as much to bring middle-class people back into the core of American cities. There's nothing natural, or inevitable, about such turns of events. It's only by paying very close attention to the ways metropolitan nature has been constructed and construed that meaningful lessons can be drawn. History matters.
So here are the plants and animals of the Los Angeles basin, its rivers and watersheds. Here are the landscapes of fact and fantasy, the historical actors, events, and circumstances that have proved transformative over and over again. The result is a nuanced and rich portrait of Los Angeles that will serve planners, communities, and environmentalists as they look to the past for clues, if not blueprints, for enhancing the quality and viability of cities.
A journey through unexplored spaces that foreground new ways of inhabiting the urban
One of the fundamental dimensions of urbanization is its radical transformation of nature. Today domestic animals make up more than twice the biomass of people on the planet, and cities are replete with nonhuman life. Yet current accounts of the urban remain resolutely anthropocentric. Lively Cities departs from conventions of urban studies to argue that cities are lived achievements forged by a multitude of entities, drawing attention to a suite of beings—human and nonhuman—that make up the material politics of city making.
From macaques and cattle in Delhi to the invasive parakeet colonies in London, Maan Barua examines the rhythms, paths, and agency of nonhumans across the city. He reconceptualizes several key themes in urban thought, including infrastructure, the built environment, design, habitation, and everyday practices of dwelling and provides a critical intervention in animal and urban studies. Generating fresh conversations between posthumanism, postcolonialism, and political economy, Barua reveals how human and nonhuman actors shape, integrate, subsume, and relate to urban space in fascinating ways.
Through novel combinations of ethnography and ethology, and focusing on interlocutors that are not the usual suspects animating urban theory, Barua’s work considers nonhuman lifeworlds and the differences they make in understanding urbanicity. Lively Cities is an agenda-setting intervention, ultimately proposing a new grammar of urban life.
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.
The history of New York City’s urban development often centers on titanic municipal figures like Robert Moses and on prominent inner Manhattan sites like Central Park. New York Recentered boldly shifts the focus to the city’s geographic edges—the coastlines and waterways—and to the small-time unelected locals who quietly shaped the modern city. Kara Murphy Schlichting details how the vernacular planning done by small businessmen and real estate operators, performed independently of large scale governmental efforts, refigured marginal locales like Flushing Meadows and the shores of Long Island Sound and the East River in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The result is a synthesis of planning history, environmental history, and urban history that recasts the story of New York as we know it.
Practical Ecology for Planners, Developers, and Citizens introduces and explains key ecological concepts for planners, landscape architects, developers, and others involved in planning and building human habitats. The book is tailored to meet the needs of busy land use professionals and citizens seeking a concise yet thorough overview of ecology and its applications. It offers clear guidelines and a wealth of information on how we can protect species and ecosystems while at the same creating healthy, sustainable human communities.
Throughout the book, the authors make ecological concepts accessible to readers with little or no scientific background. They present key ideas and information in simple and pragmatic terms, and provide numerous graphics to help explain important concepts. They also offer exercises for the reader to practice ecologically-based planning and design, along with a list of resources for practical information on ecology and conservation.
Practical Ecology for Planners, Developers, and Citizens will raise the level of ecological understanding among land use professionals and citizens, and is an invaluable new resource for anyone concerned with human land use and its environmental impacts.
The first comprehensive look at an American conservation community, Prairie Crossing goes beyond windmills and nest boxes to examine an effort to connect adults to the land while creating a healthy and humane setting for raising a new generation attuned to nature. John Scott Watson places Prairie Crossing within the wider context of suburban planning, revealing how two first-time developers implemented a visionary new land ethic that saved green space by building on it. The remarkable achievements include a high rate of resident civic participation, the reestablishment of a thriving prairie ecosystem, the reintroduction of endangered and threatened species, and improved water and air quality. Yet, as Watson shows, considerations like economic uncertainty, lack of racial and class diversity, and politics have challenged, and continue to challenge, Prairie Crossing and its residents.
Rademacher conducted research during a volatile period in Nepal’s political history. As clashes between Maoist revolutionaries and the government intensified, the riverscape became a site of competing claims to a capital city that increasingly functioned as a last refuge from war-related violence. In this time of intense flux, efforts to ensure, create, or imagine ecological stability intersected with aspirations for political stability. Throughout her analysis, Rademacher emphasizes ecology as an important site of dislocation, entitlement, and cultural meaning.
Cities have been built alongside rivers throughout history. These rivers can shape a city’s success or cause its destruction. At the same time, city-building reshapes rivers and their landscapes. Cities have harnessed, modified, and engineered rivers, altering ecologies and creating new landscapes in the process of urbanization. Rivers are also shaped by the development of cities as urban landscapes, just as the cities are shaped by their relationship to the river.In the river city, the city river is a dynamic contributor to the urban landscape with its flow of urban economies, geographies, and cultures. Yet we have rarely given these urban landscapes their due. Building on emerging interest in the resilience of cities, this book and the original symposium consider river cities and city rivers to explore how histories have shaped the present and how they might inform our visions of the future.
Seattle, often called the “Emerald City,” did not achieve its green, clean, and sustainable environment easily. This thriving ecotopia is the byproduct of continuing efforts by residents, businesses, and civic leaders alike. In Seattle and the Roots of Urban Sustainability, Jeffrey Craig Sanders examines the rise of environmental activism in Seattle amidst the “urban crisis” of the 1960s and its aftermath.
Like much activism during this period, the environmental movement began at the grassroots level—in local neighborhoods over local issues. Sanders links the rise of local environmentalism to larger movements for economic, racial, and gender equality and to a counterculture that changed the social and political landscape. He examines emblematic battles that erupted over the planned demolition of Pike Place Market, a local landmark, and environmental organizing in the Central District during the War on Poverty. Sanders also relates the story of Fort Lawton, a decommissioned army base, where Audubon Society members and Native American activists feuded over future land use.
The rise and popularity of environmental consciousness among Seattle’s residents came to influence everything from industry to politics, planning, and global environmental movements. Yet, as Sanders reveals, it was in the small, local struggles that urban environmental activism began.
The Spectator and the Topographical City examines Pittsburgh’s built environment as it relates to the city’s unique topography. Martin Aurand explores the conditions present in the natural landscape that led to the creation of architectural forms; man’s response to an unruly terrain of hills, hollows, and rivers. From its origins as a frontier fortification to its heyday of industrial expansion; through eras of City Beautiful planning and urban Renaissance to today’s vision of a green sustainable city; Pittsburgh has offered environmental and architectural experiences unlike any other place.
Aurand adopts the viewpoint of the spectator to study three of Pittsburgh’s “terrestrial rooms”: the downtown Golden Triangle; the Turtle Creek Valley with its industrial landscape; and Oakland, the cultural and university district. He examines the development of these areas and their significance to our perceptions of a singular American city, shaped to its topography.
The walk from my apartment in Greenwich Village to my studio in Tribeca takes about twenty minutes, depending upon the route and whether I stop for a coffee and the Times. Invariably, though, it begins with a trip down the stairs.
And so sets out architecture critic Michael Sorkin on his daily walk from his home in a Manhattan old-law-style tenement building. Sorkin has followed the same path for over fifteen years, a route that has allowed him to observe the startling transformations in New York during this period of great change. Twenty Minutes in Manhattan is his personal, anecdotal account of his casual encounters with the physical space and social dimensions of this unparalleled city.
From the social gathering place of the city stoop to Washington Square Park, Sorkin’s walk takes the reader on a wry, humorous journey past local characters, neighborhood stores and bodegas, landmark buildings, and overlooked streets. His perambulations offer him—and the reader—opportunities to not only engage with his surroundings but to consider a wide range of issues that fascinate Sorkin as an architect, urbanist, and New Yorker. Whether he is despairing at street garbage or marveling at elevator etiquette, Twenty Minutes in Manhattan offers a testing ground for his ideas of how the city can be newly imagined and designed, addressing such issues as the crisis of the environment, free expression and public space, historic preservation, and the future of the neighborhood as a concept.
Inspired by Sorkin’s close, attentive relationship to his beloved city, Twenty Minutes in Manhattan is in the end a valentine to the idea of the city that ultimately offers a practical set of solutions that are relevant to not only the preservation and improvement of New York but to urban environments everywhere.
More than half the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, and virtually all of the world’s population growth over the next three decades is expected to be in cities. What impact will this growth have on the environment? What can we do now to pave the way for resource longevity? Sustainability has received considerable attention in recent years, though conceptions of the term remain vague. Using a wide array of cities around the globe as case studies, this timely book explores the varying nature of global urban-environmental stresses and the complexities involved in defining sustainability policies. Working with six core themes, the editor examines the past, present, and future of urban sustainability within local, national, and global contexts.
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.
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