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Nature Next Door: Cities and Trees in the American Northeast
     

Nature Next Door: Cities and Trees in the American Northeast

by Ellen Stroud, William Cronon (Foreword by)
 

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The once denuded northeastern United States is now a region of trees. Nature Next Door argues that the growth of cities, the construction of parks, the transformation of farming, the boom in tourism, and changes in the timber industry have together brought about a return of northeastern forests. Although historians and historical actors alike have seen urban and

Overview

The once denuded northeastern United States is now a region of trees. Nature Next Door argues that the growth of cities, the construction of parks, the transformation of farming, the boom in tourism, and changes in the timber industry have together brought about a return of northeastern forests. Although historians and historical actors alike have seen urban and rural areas as distinct, they are in fact intertwined, and the dichotomies of farm and forest, agriculture and industry, and nature and culture break down when the focus is on the history of Northeastern woods. Cities, trees, mills, rivers, houses, and farms are all part of a single transformed regional landscape.

In an examination of the cities and forests of the northeastern United States-with particular attention to the woods of Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Vermont-Ellen Stroud shows how urbanization processes there fostered a period of recovery for forests, with cities not merely consumers of nature but creators as well. Interactions between city and hinterland in the twentieth century Northeast created a new wildness of metropolitan nature: a reforested landscape intricately entangled with the region's cities and towns.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bryn Mawr environmental historian Stroud uses the stories of Herbert Welch (a lawyer who in the early 20th century annually hiked from his Philadelphia home to his New Hampshire vacation cabin) and other forest advocates to document forest preservation and restoration efforts in four northeastern states, and to show how such efforts were frequently the result of urban needs. In Pennsylvania, efforts to protect the quality of urban water supplies resulted in the establishment of public forest preserves as clean watersheds. In New Hampshire, vacationing city-dwellers initiated forest preservation and restoration efforts to protect the beautiful views and sylvan atmosphere of their summer cabins, while Vermonters discovered that government policies promoting “the forested farm” to city dwellers aided both the tourist and farm economies. In contrast, Maine, lacking a strong urban presence, has struggled to resolve forest-use conflicts between tourists, hunters, loggers, and property developers. For each case study, Stroud closely follows the story of one or more key individuals, bringing them to life with extensive quotations from letters, speeches, and other documents. These personal stories add a refreshingly human touch to the story. The book illuminates the web of connections between forests and the quality of human life, and documents some of the ways in which people have strengthened those ties. Illus. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"Ellen Stroud offers a compelling historical explanation for the return of America's northeastern forests. Historians, land managers, and elected officials would do well to consider the historical and continuing relationship between forests, towns, and cities in America's Northeast. Stroud's excellent book offers an instructive path into the woods." -Aaron Shapiro, Environmental History

"Ellen Stroud…explores the Northeast's interconnected urban and rural spaces and invites readers to reconsider old assumptions about their separateness. Nature Next Door is essential reading for scholars and citizens interested in the relationship between urban and rural history." -Anthony Penna, The New England Quarterly

Human Ecology - Benktesh D. Sharma

The book almost reads as a historical travelogue through the Northeastern forested landscape with occasional pauses to explore the political ecology that shaped present day forests.

Environmental History - Aaron Shapiro

Ellen Stroud offers a compelling historical explanation for the return of America's northeastern forests. Historians, land managers, and elected officials would do well to consider the historical and continuing relationship between forests, towns, and cities in America's Northeast. Stroud's excellent book offers an instructive path into the woods.

Journal of American History - Albert G. Way

The extent of reforestation in the American Northeast is nothing short of remarkable, especially considering that it is the most urbanized region of the nation. Once 75 percent deforested, the region is now 75 percent forested. In this elegant volume, Ellen Stroud asks how that happened and finds unexpected answers.

The New England Quarterly - Anthony Penna

Ellen Stroud…explores the Northeast's interconnected urban and rural spaces and invites readers to reconsider old assumptions about their separateness. Nature Next Door is essential reading for scholars and citizens interested in the relationship between urban and rural history.

Choice

With this intriguing book, environmental historian Stroud has fundamentally rewritten the recent forest history of the northeastern U.S.

Orion - Naomi Heindel

Nature Next Door, while providing the ecological and cultural narrative that fills the gap between William Cronon's Changes in the Land and Tom Wessels's Reading the Forested Landscape, is as much about the future—the next hundred years—as it is about the past.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History - J. Brooks Flippen

Stroud's story has global implications far beyond the Northeast.

Planning - Harold Henderson

Stroud helps us understand the process of change at many different scales.

Technology and Culture - Janet Ore

Stroud writes with a clear and elegant voice. The stories of individuals that she weaves throughout her book, particularly those of numerous women, provide a warm human dimension to her landscape analysis.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780295993317
Publisher:
University of Washington Press
Publication date:
07/23/2013
Series:
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Richard Judd

Stroud's idea that forests were shaped by human choice is an important complement to the standard story of forest succession in abandoned farmlands in the Northeast.

William Cronon

Nature Next Door shows how urbanization, farm abandonment, state policies, and conservation have left the American Northeast far more forested than it has been since the eighteenth century or before. It is among the most profound and surprising transformations in the history of the American landscape— and quite different from the usual stories of decline and degradation that are so familiar in environmental history. No one has written about this process with greater subtlety, intelligence, and literary grace than Ellen Stroud.

Meet the Author

Ellen Stroud is an environmental historian at Bryn Mawr College, where she is an associate professor in the Growth and Structure of Cities Department, and holds the Johanna Alderfer Harris and William H. Harris M.D. Chair in Environmental Studies.

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