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Taming Manhattan

Taming Manhattan

Environmental Battles in the Antebellum City

Catherine McNeur

ISBN 9780674979758

Publication date: 10/23/2017

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George Perkins Marsh Prize, American Society for Environmental History
VSNY Book Award, New York Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America
Hornblower Award for a First Book, New York Society Library
James Broussard Best First Book Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic

With pigs roaming the streets and cows foraging in the Battery, antebellum Manhattan would have been unrecognizable to inhabitants of today’s sprawling metropolis. Fruits and vegetables came from small market gardens in the city, and manure piled high on streets and docks was gold to nearby farmers. But as Catherine McNeur reveals in this environmental history of Gotham, a battle to control the boundaries between city and country was already being waged, and the winners would take dramatic steps to outlaw New York’s wild side.

“[A] fine book which make[s] a real contribution to urban biography.”
—Joseph Rykwert, Times Literary Supplement

“Tells an odd story in lively prose…The city McNeur depicts in Taming Manhattan is the pestiferous obverse of the belle epoque city of Henry James and Edith Wharton that sits comfortably in many imaginations…[Taming Manhattan] is a smart book that engages in the old­ fashioned business of trying to harvest lessons for the present from the past.”
—Alexander Nazaryan, New York Times

Praise

  • Tells an odd story in lively prose. This book implicitly alludes to the urban revival now stretching from Portland, Ore., to Portland, Me., but whatever your thoughts on brewpubs and bike lanes, you probably haven’t read a municipal history that has a mayor ‘ready to tackle the hog problem.’ …The city McNeur depicts in Taming Manhattan is the pestiferous obverse of the belle epoque city of Henry James and Edith Wharton that sits comfortably in many imaginations. McNeur’s town is a ‘veritable manure factory’ in which some 10,000 horses each deposit up to 40 pounds of manure a day, while the East River serves as a repository for human waste… [Taming Manhattan] is a smart book that engages in the old­-fashioned business of trying to harvest lessons for the present from the past.

    —Alexander Nazaryan, New York Times

Awards

  • 2014, Winner of the SHEAR Book Prizes
  • 2015, Winner of the George Perkins Marsh Prize

Author

  • Catherine McNeur is Associate Professor of History at Portland State University.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 0-7/8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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