- Assistant Professor
- Bowdoin College
Urban by Nature combines environmental, social, and cultural history to analyze why Americans see cities and nature in conflict. Contrary to current attitudes, 19th-century Americans considered urbanization as a process for improving nature. Trained experts, from engineers to landscape architects, believed that finishing nature through public works projects released its regenerative properties to advance reform. As a result, they created an environmental metropolis, a fusion of artifice and nature that could be manipulated to produce both consumer goods and civic unity. But while these changes benefited some, they also spawned ecological instability and social inequality, triggering resistance from poor and minorities in Seattle that ultimately split nature from urban life.