The Forgotten Frontier: Urban Planning in the American West Before 1890
Americans imagine the Early West as a vast expanse of almost empty land populated only by farmers, ranchers, cattle, and horses. Now a leading scholar challenges this stereotype with his concise examination of early city planning and urban development in the region. Extending and elaborating on studies by Carl Bridenbaugh and Richard Wade of the Atlantic Seaboard and the Ohio Valley, John Reps demonstrates that throughout the Trans-Mississippi West cities and towns, not farms and ranches, formed the vanguard of frontier settlement. Urban communities thus stimulated rather than followed the opening of the West to agriculture. These cities did not grow randomly, for their founders established patterns of streets, lots, and public sites to guide expansion as population increased. Reps supports his thesis with 100 illustrations-plans, maps, surveys, and views-showing the original designs of every major Western city and of dozens of smaller places. Based on Reps's massive Cities of the American West (winner of the Beveridge Prize in 1980), this succinct account includes extensive notes and references that will be useful to readers who wish to pursue his penetrating critique.
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