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October 2012
304 pages  
22 b&wIllustrations
6 x 9 1/4
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Nature’s Entrepôt
Philadelphia’s Urban Sphere and Its Environmental Thresholds
Black, Brian, Chiarappa, Michael
Philadelphia was one of America’s first major cities and an international seaport. Nature's Entrepot views the planning, expansion, and sustainability of the urban environment of Philadelphia from its inception to the present.
Brian C. Black is professor of history and environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University, Altoona. He is the author of several previous books, including Petrolia: The Landscape of America’s First Oil Boom and Crude Reality: Petroleum in World History.
Michael J. Chiarappa is associate professor of history at Quinnipiac University. He is coauthor of Fish for All: An Oral History of Multiple Claims of Divided Sentiment on Lake Michigan.
“In evaluating the adaptability of an environmental ethos forged early in the nation’s history, Nature’s Entrepot reveals a complex and often troubled course of development in America’s ‘first city.’ Rich with detail both about particular sites and the greater Philadelphia region, this collection represents a welcome addition to urban and environmental studies.”—Howard Gillette, Rutgers University, emeritus

“In Nature’s Entrepot, Black and Chiarappa have assembled a fascinating environmental history of one of America’s pre-eminent metropolises, tracing how humans shaped — and were shaped by — the landscape and ecology of the country’s ‘First City.’ This book greatly enhances our understanding of how Americans have controlled, loved, and exploited the natural world.”—Fen Montaigne, senior editor, Yale Environment 360

“The insightful essays of Nature's Entrepot explore the interplay of economic development, technology, and the environment in Philadelphia. Philadelphians routinely exploited, shaped, and degraded their city's natural resources and landscape with most ‘solutions’ to inconvenient ecological obstacles long since buried in time and memory. This collection successfully inserts environmental history into the understanding of Philadelphia's life and landscape in the past and today.” —Edward Muller, University of Pittsburgh

Nature’s Entrepot provides fascinating and refreshing perspectives on the environmental history of one of our most intriguing and complex metropolitan areas. The diversity of topics, concerns, approaches, and time periods included make this an important and provocative volume.”—Peter Siskind, Arcadia University

”A thoughtful collection of essays exploring the relationship between Philadelphians and their natural landscape, successfully situating environmental history in the city and suburb. . . .Highly detailed yet very readable. Highly recommended.”—Choice

“A strong addition to the young field of environmental history. . . . The breadth of chapters ensure that almost any reader interested in Philadelphia (or urban environments in general) will be able to find something of interest.”—The Pennsylvania Geographer

“A valuable resource . . . belongs in the library of anyone interested in learning about and from Philadelphia’s rich record of environmental triumphs and tribulations. . . . Provides needed direction and lessons learned on how to be involved in deploying effective environmental policy and urban planning.”--Commonwealth: A Journal of Political Science

“Succeeds as a comprehensive urban-environmental history of Philadelphia. . . . Each chapter demonstrates the limitations of human/nonhuman interface, the overlapping of environmental spheres, and illuminates how generations of Philadelphians conceived of their natural and built landscapes. Scholars of urban, environmental, cultural, and planning histories as well as anyone with a genuine interest in Philadelphia will find much of use in this wide-ranging collection.”—Environmental History

“Anyone interested in environmental history, urban history and planning, or Philadelphia will want to read this book. . . .This collection of essays is more unified than many such volumes. Overlapping time periods and details that appear in several essays effectively link topics together, so discussions of discrete topics combine to provide a bigger picture while remaining informative in their own right.”--Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

“This is environmental, political, economic, and social history combined to figure out how residents have lived over four centuries. Effective and often riveting.—H-Net Reviews

Complete Description Reviews
History of the Urban Environment Table of Contents
History/Environmental Read a selection from this book

In Nature’s Entrepot, the contributors view the planning, expansion, and sustainability of the urban environment of Philadelphia from its inception to the present. The chapters explore the history of the city, its natural resources, and the early naturalists who would influence future environmental policy. They then follow Philadelphia’s growing struggles with disease, sanitation, pollution, sewerage, transportation, population growth and decline, and other byproducts of urban expansion. Later chapters examine efforts in the modern era to preserve animal populations, self-sustaining food supplies, functional landscapes and urban planning, and environmental activism.
Philadelphia’s place as an early seat of government and major American metropolis has been well documented by leading historians. Now, Nature’s Entrepôt looks particularly to the human impact on this unique urban environment, examining its long history of industrial and infrastructure development, policy changes, environmental consciousness, and sustainability efforts that would come to influence not just this region but also the nation.



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