Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

William Cronon

Language: English

Pages: 592

ISBN: 0393308731

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"Magnificent... the best work of economic and business history I've ever read."―Paul Krugman

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 story of city and country becoming ever more tightly bound in a system so powerful that it reshaped the American landscape and transformed American culture. The world that emerged is our own.

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buy up timber acreage—most of it in yellow pine—in Arkansas, Louisiana, and other southern states.179 As railroads extended their lines into the southern forests, manufacturers began to sell yellow pine lumber direct from their mills. Some of that lumber headed north into the heart of white pine territory. The first of it arrived in Chicago in 1877, where the Northwestern Lumberman observed that it took “a much handsomer finish” than white pine and declared that it would “not be long before

rates that put dressed beef at a disadvantage against live shipments, charging it at the traditional rate for barreled beef, which was about three times higher than that for livestock.120 Although they could not forbid dressed beef shipments entirely, they did what they could to make them inconvenient and unprofitable. Fortunately for Swift, there was one eastern railroad with no significant interest in live animal shipments: the Grand Trunk. Saddled with the longest and most northern of

in 1887, which outlawed pools like the Eastern Trunk Line Association without placing any similar constraints on shippers. Faced with the growing oligopoly of Chicago’s packing companies—now nicknamed the Big Four—the railroads lost much of their ability to defend shippers of live animals. The packers had become too powerful to resist, since they controlled such a large share of each railroad’s carrying trade. The unavoidable result was a dramatic rearrangement of the geography of the American

large.” “A Wholesale Evil,” NWL, Nov. 3, 1877, 2. 162.A good early example of this attitude can be found in “The Middle Men,” Wisconsin Lumberman, Sept. 1874, 565–67. 163.Michigan Lumberman [1873?], reprinted in “Chicago Lumber Trade,” Wisconsin Lumberman, Oct. 1873, 13. 164.James Glasgow, “Muskegon, Michigan: The Evolution of a Lake Port” (Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Chicago, 1939), 45–46; and Krog, “Marinette,” 60. Reliable maps for U.S. rail systems in any given year of the nation’s history are

Northern Heartland. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1987. Bottles, Scott L. Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1987. Bourget, Paul. Outre-mer: Impressions of America. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1895. Bourne, L. S., and J. W. Simmons, eds. Systems of Cities: Readings on Structure, Growth, and Policy. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1968. Boutmy, Emile. Studies in Constitutional Law: France—England—United States.

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