In this major new work of urban geography, Allan Pred interprets the process by which major cities grew and the entire city-system of the United States developed during the antebellum decades. The book focuses on the availability and distribution of crucial economic information. For as cities developed, this information helped determine the new urban areas in which business opportunities could be exploited and productive innovations implemented.
Pred places this original approach to urbanization in the context of earlier, more conventional studies, and he supports his view by a wealth of evidence regarding the flow of commodities between major cities. He also draws on an analysis of newspaper circulation, postal services, business travel, and telegraph usage. Pred’s book goes far beyond the usual “biographies” of individual cities or the specialized studies of urban life. It offers a large and fascinating view of the way an entire city-system was put together and made to function. Indeed, by providing the first full account of these two decades of American urbanization, Pred has supplied a vital and hitherto missing link in the history of the United States.