The Nature of Cities

The Nature of Cities

Culture, Landscape, and Urban Space

Edited by Andrew C. Isenberg


University of Rochester Press



Essays that investigate issues of race, class, consumption, and the body in an array of urban places, across a broad period from the late Renaissance to the present.
This volume explores the intersection of cities and the natural environment in an array of urban places, including New York, London, New Orleans, Venice, and Seattle, across a broad period from the late Renaissance to the present. The essays investigate the ecological context of revolts-both real and imagined-by urban squatters and slaves; urban epidemics and their cultural and political consequences; the social and economic impact of natural catastrophes upon urban places; and the environmental history of the rise and fall of cities. The Nature of Cities brings together the work of scholars employing new methods of research in urban and environmental history. The contributors to the volume, who include Karl Appuhn, Joanna Dyl, Ari Kelman, Matthew Klingle, Emmanuel Kreike, Sara Pritchard, Peter Thorsheim, and Ellen Stroud, represent a new generation of scholars in urban environmental history. Their innovative and interdisciplinary work draws on race, class, consumerism, landscape studies, and culture to address such questions as racial and class conflicts in urban public spaces; the cultural construction and control of public spaces by economic and government powers; and the idealization of cities as apart from nature.

Andrew C. Isenberg is Associate Professor of History at Temple University. He is the author of The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920 (New York, 2000), and Mining California: An Ecological History (New York, 2005).


January 2006
10 black and white illustrations
222 pages
9x6 in
Studies in Comparative History
ISBN: 9781580462204
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS010000, HIS036000, ARC008000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: New Directions in Urban Environmental History - Andrew C. Isenberg
Part 1: Urban Spaces, Death, and the Body
New Orleans's Phantom Slave Insurrection of 1853: Racial Anxiety, Urban Ecology, and Human Bodies as Public Spaces - Ari Kelman
Green Space and Class in Imperial London - Peter Thorsheim
The War on Rats vs. The Right to Keep Chickens: Plague and the Paving of San Francisco, 1907-1908 - Joanna L. Dyl
Dead Bodies in Harlem: Environmental History and the Geography of Death - Ellen Stroud
Part II: The Geography of Power and Consumption
Friend or Flood? The Dilemmas of Water Management in Early Modern Venice - Karl Appuhn
Banking on Sacramento: Urban Development, Flood Control, and Political Legitimization, 1848-1862 - Andrew C. Isenberg
Fair Play: Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Inequality in Twentieth-Century Seattle - Matthew Klingle
Part III: Cities Deconstructed
The Palenque Paradox: Bush Cities, Bushmen, and the Bush - Emmanuel Kreike
"Paris et le désert français": Urban and Rural Environments in Post-World War II France - Sara Pritchard


The Nature of Cities demonstrates how environmental historians can better communicate their ideas to historians in other fields, suggests how social and cultural historians can interpret the past if they strive to integrate the insights of environmental historians, and indicates what environmental historians can produce by synthesizing a wide variety of scholarly literature. ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY

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