Nature's Metropolis

By William Cronon,

Book cover of Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

Book description

In this groundbreaking work, William Cronon gives us an environmental perspective on the history of nineteenth-century America. By exploring the ecological and economic changes that made Chicago America's most dynamic city and the Great West its hinterland, Mr. Cronon opens a new window onto our national past. This is the…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Nature's Metropolis as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This classic work on economic geography by William Cronon demonstrates how the city of Chicago and the American West developed together. It is a history of the relationship Chicago had with the rest of America in the nineteenth century by looking at the flow of grain, lumber, and meat. The key role of the railroads is also featured as well.

From Yasuhiro's list on cities, their trades, and world trade.

Cronon, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, explains how Chicago grew up in a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding rural states. He argues that environmental historians have got to be as interested in cities as they are in the wilderness and that one of the central themes of American history is the transformation of things that grow (including animals and plants) into abstract commodities that can be bought and sold in bulk. No one has done more than Cronon to advance the intelligent study of environmental history and to create for it a sophisticated theoretical framework. This book is…

This book really jogged the way I look at maps and contributed to my wondering about boundaries. Using Chicago as his base point, William Cronon breaks apart one of the fundamental geographic borders in our minds: urban versus rural. He shows just how interconnected we are -- including those “parasites” we call middlemen, by explaining (and making interesting!) the Chicago Commodities Exchange.

From Mark's list on boundaries.

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