Remaking Boston: An Environmental History of the City and Its Surroundings

Remaking Boston: An Environmental History of the City and Its Surroundings


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Since its settlement in 1630, Boston, its harbor, and outlying regions have witnessed a monumental transformation at the hands of humans and by nature. Remaking Boston chronicles many of the events that altered the physical landscape of Boston, while also offering multidisciplinary perspectives on the environmental history of one of America's oldest and largest metropolitan areas.

Situated on an isthmus, and blessed with a natural deepwater harbor and ocean access, Boston became an important early trade hub with Europe and the world. As its population and economy grew, developers extended the city's shoreline into the surrounding tidal mudflats to create more useable land. Further expansion of the city was achieved through the annexation of surrounding communities, and the burgeoning population and economy spread to outlying areas. The interconnection of city and suburb opened the floodgates to increased commerce, services and workforces, while also leaving a wake of roads, rails, bridges, buildings, deforestation, and pollution.

Profiling this ever-changing environment, the contributors tackle a variety of topics, including: the glacial formation of the region; physical characteristics and composition of the land and harbor; dredging, sea walling, flattening, and landfill operations in the reshaping of the Shawmut Peninsula; the longstanding controversy over the link between landfills and shoaling in shipping channels; population movements between the city and suburbs and their environmental implications; interdependence of the city and its suburbs; preservation and reclamation of the Charles River; suburban deforestation and later reforestation as byproducts of changing land use; the planned outlay of parks and parkways; and historic climate changes and the human and biological adaptations to them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822963011
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 12/26/2009
Series: Pittsburgh Hist Urban Environ Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 344
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Anthony N. Penna is professor of history at Northeastern University. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Human Footprint: A Global Environmental History, and a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Conrad Edick Wright is director of research and Ford Editor of Publications at the Massachusetts Historical Society. He is the author or coeditor of several books, including Revolutionary Generation: Harvard Men and the Consequences of Independence and The Education of Henry Adams: A Centennial Version.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 Introduction: Boston from Peninsula to Metropolis Anthony N. Penna 1

The Harbor

2 The Drowning of Boston Harbor and the Development of the Shoreline Peter S. Rosen Duncan M. FitzGerald 19

3 What Lies Beneath: Science, Nature, and the Making of Boston Harbor Michael Rawson 33

4 Remaking Boston Harbor: Cleaning Up After Ourselves Steven M. Rudnick 56

5 In Search of the Shawmut Peninsula: Using Modern Cartographic Analysis to Discover the "Original" Boston Shoreline Stephen T. Mague 75

The Town and the Countryside

6 Remaking Boston, Remaking Massachusetts Brian Donahue 105

7 A City (Only Partly) on a Hill: Terrain and Land Use in Pre-twentieth-century Boston William B. Meyer 127

8 Reforestation in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, 1850-1910 David Soil 148

9 How Metropolitan Parks Shaped Greater Boston, 1893-1945 James G O'Connell 168

10 Reclaiming the Middle Charles River Reservation Daniel Driscoll Karl Haglund 198

The Climate and the Weather

11 Boston's Weather and Climate Histories William B. Meyer 215

12 "Rain Down Righteousness": Interpretations of Natural Events in Mid-eighteenth-century Boston Lauri Bauer Coleman 233

13 Biological Responses to Climate Change in Boston Abraham J. Miller-Rushing Richard B. Primack 257

Notes 277

Contributors 321

Index 323

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