Natures Metropolis – Chicago & the Great West (Paper): Chicago and the Great West

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Natures Metropolis – Chicago & the Great West (Paper): Chicago and the Great West

Natures Metropolis – Chicago & the Great West (Paper): Chicago and the Great West

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Joshua Specht, Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-To-Table History of How Beef Changed America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019).

For instance, central place theory—the idea of concentric rings of economic activity radiating out from a city—helps explain Chicago’s relationship to its hinterland. I read the book ahead of my first ever trip to Chicago (and other parts of the American Mid-West) and the book certainly served as a good historical introduction to the area, especially the astonishingly fast growth of Chicago: the relationship between that metropolis and its natural hinterland is vividly described. From a historic, economic, and cultural perspective there are few books that will show you so much about the world at large while explaining one central point in beautiful, illuminating detail.This shaping is primarily viewed through commodity flows, including the commodities themselves and how they were transported. From real estate speculation in the 1830s to the coming of the railroads a few decades later, many of the changes to Chicago were financed by investors in the east.

Unlike the typical maps that appear in historical monographs, these maps don’t just show geographical context; they explicitly advance Cronon’s larger argument about the flows of capital that knit the region together. The roots of the modern environmental predicament are plainly visible in the economic dynamism that brought about the rise of Chicago in the mid-nineteenth century, which is a captivating story in its own right. A book of such richness and quality prompts any number of reactions, but I am hardly the only reader enticed by the lucidity of Nature’s Metropolis.But the major concerns of Nature’s Metropolis are sometimes assumed to be remote to those that concern historians of sexuality. The Chicago Board of Trade was intimately involved with these developments, which further resulted in the creation of the allied futures market, with its ability to reduce risks for farmers and provide additional liquidity for the market—and, not incidentally, to make huge fortunes for speculators and those willing to risk trying to corner the market.

In a similar vein, the new suburbs were designed to offer a polished, sanitized version of the nature whose modification and production made the city possible. Cayton, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1945).Without boosters, Chicago would not necessarily have grown as it did, or ultimately occupied the position it does. 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? When Sac chief Black Hawk traveled to present-day Illinois to protect his ancestral lands, he encountered violence from white settlers. In the book’s appendix, Cronon spends several pages detailing the technical aspects of how he collected and mapped the data—an explicit emphasis on methodology that would define many future spatial (and digital) history projects.



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