Download American Capitals: A Historical Geography by Christian Montès PDF

By Christian Montès

State capitals are an indelible a part of the yank psyche, spatial representations of kingdom strength and nationwide id. studying them through middle is a ceremony of passage in grade institution, a pedagogical workout that emphasizes the significance of committing place-names to reminiscence. yet geographers have not begun to investigate nation capitals in any intensity. In American Capitals, Christian Montès takes us on a well-researched trip throughout America—from Augusta to Sacramento, Albany to Baton Rouge—shedding mild alongside the best way at the old conditions that ended in their appointment, their good fortune or failure, and their evolution over time.

While all country capitals have a couple of features in common—as symbols of the nation, as embodiments of political energy and determination making, as public areas with deepest interests—Montès doesn't interpret them via a unmarried lens, largely end result of the variations of their spatial and ancient evolutionary styles. a few have remained small, whereas others have advanced into bustling metropolises, and Montès explores the dynamics of swap and progress. All yet 11 kingdom capitals have been validated within the 19th century, thirty-five earlier than 1861, yet, really astonishingly, basically 8 of the fifty states have maintained their unique capitals. regardless of their respected prestige because the so much huge and old towns in the United States, capitals come from strangely humble beginnings, usually affected by instability, clash, hostility, and corruption. Montès reminds us of the interval during which they took place, “an period of pioneer and idealized territorial vision,” coupled with a still-evolving American citizenry and democracy.

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Additional resources for American Capitals: A Historical Geography

Sample text

The principle that form follows function is well illustrated in the following statement: “The use of public funds solely for beautification of the city is not sought by this commission” (Annual Reports 1932, 16). Indeed, Exchange Place Mall, called “the most notable City Plan achievement in Providence,” was highly practical. Today called Kennedy Plaza, it is a vast, open-air bus station between the town hall and the federal court. Natural disasters sometimes prompted action. In Columbus, Ohio, after the great flood of 1913, the levees and bridges that were built to prevent future disasters served as the starting point of the city’s civic center (Bureau of Business Research 1966, 14).

Another early example of careful planning is Philadelphia, the plat of which was later copied by other new capitals like Lancaster and Tallahassee. The founder-proprietor of Pennsylvania, William Penn (1644– 1718), laid out Philadelphia using the latest developments in town planning, perfecting it in the city’s rectangular gridiron with four symmetrical parks (Cochran 1978, 6). The grid was witness to the equality between all the heads of families that formed the basis of Philadelphia’s citizenry.

Today’s Detroit presents the common grid, with few exceptions, as for Grand Circus Park and the streets radiating out from it (Dunbar and May 1995, 114). Such a plan was perhaps too grand for a town of nine hundred inhabitants. This was not the case in Indiana. In January 1821, Indiana’s legislature, after ratifying the selection of the capital’s site, elected three commissioners to lay out a town on the site and an agent for the sale of the lots. They were to proceed “on such plan as they may conceive will be advantageous to the state and to the prosperity of said town, having specially in view the health, utility and beauty of the place” (quoted c apital s a s pl ac e s of me mory |  in Dunn 1910, 26).

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