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An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature


An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature Cover


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Strategically situated at the gateway to the Mississippi River yet standing atop a former swamp, New Orleans was from the first what geographer Peirce Lewis called an "impossible but inevitable city." How New Orleans came to be, taking shape between the mutual and often contradictory forces of nature and urban development, is the subject of An Unnatural Metropolis. Craig E. Colten traces engineered modifications to New Orleans's natural environment from 1800 to 2000. Before the city could swell in size and commercial importance as its nineteenth century boosters envisioned, builders had to wrest it from its waterlogged site, protect it from floods, expel disease, and supply basic services using local resources. Colten shows how every manipulation of the environment made an impact on the city's social geography as well--often with unequal, adverse consequences for minorities--and how each still requires maintenance and improvement today. For example, while the massive levee system has controlled the unpredictable Mississippi, it also captures heavy downpours, creating a new set of internal flood problems. Urban geographers frequently have portrayed cities as the antithesis of nature, but in An Unnatural Metropolis Colten inserts a critical environmental perspective to the history of urban areas. His amply illustrated work offers an in-depth look at a city and society uniquely shaped by the natural forces it has sought to harness.

Product Details

Colten, Craig E.
Louisiana State University Press
Historical geography
Human ecology
Urban ecology
Public Policy - City Planning & Urban Dev.
United States - State & Local - South
River engineering
Human ecology - Louisiana -
Urban ecology (Sociology) - Louisiana -
World History-General
Publication Date:
8.98x6.06x.56 in. .83 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » City Specific
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Ecology

An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature New Trade Paper
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Product details 245 pages Louisiana State University Press - English 9780807132005 Reviews:
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