Cartography and Geography

Review: Bruegmann, Sprawl

June 12, 2006
By
Review: Bruegmann, Sprawl

Chicago Life recently reviewed Robert Bruegmann’s Sprawl: A Compact History: "At a recent panel discussion at the prestigious Chicago Architecture Foundation, the distinguished Doug Kelbaugh, dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Architecture, described the book Sprawl: A Compact History as the most dangerous book he as read. The book was written by the also very distinguished Robert Bruegmann, professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The word ‘dangerous’ suggests that something is very wrong with this book. In fact, the book, which is short and easily consumed, turns conventional wisom on its head suggesting that ‘low-density scattered, urban development without systematic large-scale or regional public land-use planning,’ in other words sprawl, is not all that bad." The first major book to strip urban sprawl of its pejorative connotations, Sprawl offers a completely new vision of the city and its growth. Bruegmann leads readers to the powerful conclusion that "in its immense complexity and constant change, the city—whether dense and concentrated at its core, looser and more sprawling in suburbia, or in the vast tracts of exurban penumbra that extend dozens, even hundreds, of miles—is the grandest and most marvelous work of mankind." Read an excerpt. . . .

Read more »

Get these inflammatory toponyms before they’re gone

June 6, 2006
By
Get these inflammatory toponyms before they’re gone

    Squaw Peak, which overlooks Phoenix, Arizona, drew the attention of Native American activists, who sought to change the name, and place names purists, who resented the governor‘s attempt at renaming. (From the Sunnyslope, Arizona USGS topographic quadrangle map.)   An essay by Mark Monmonier, distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University and the author of From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame. I‘m surprised few people collect twentieth-century maps, which are more readily available than earlier artifacts, less expensive to acquire, and more varied in content. In contrast to traditional themes like military maps, nautical charts, or a particular mapmaker, the collector of modern maps can easily focus on his or her ancestors, birthplace, travels, hobbies, or occupation. History buffs can concentrate on places prominent in military, diplomatic, industrial, or intellectual history—Gettysburg, Versailles, Thomas Edison‘s Menlo Park (New Jersey), and London‘s Bloomsbury district spring to mind—or on specific types of places, such as battlefields, National Parks, or even disaster sites, which afford intriguing cartographic narratives of affluence, devastation, and recovery. Collectors eager to mix history and design can concentrate on propaganda or transportation maps, while hobbyists fascinated with mapping technology can focus on . . .

Read more »

Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

May 30, 2006
By
Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

In today’s Boston Globe Michael Kenney writes about Mark Monmonier’s "entertaining and enlightening" new book, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame. Kenney summarizes the book’s description of the process of renaming controversial geographic locations and why it’s important: "Monmonier writes, ‘how a nation manipulates and preserves its place and feature names says a lot about its respect for history, minority rights and indigenous culture.’" From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow probes this little-known chapter in American cartographic history by considering the intersecting efforts to computerize mapmaking, standardize geographic names, and respond to public concern over ethnically offensive appellations. Interweaving cartographic history with tales of politics and power, celebrated geographer Mark Monmonier locates his story within the past and present struggles of mapmakers to create an orderly process for naming that avoids confusion, preserves history, and serves different political aims. Read an excerpt. . . .

Read more »

Review: Bruegmann, Sprawl

April 26, 2006
By
Review: Bruegmann, Sprawl

The London Review of Books recently praised Robert Bruegmann’s Sprawl: A Compact History. From the review by Andrew Saint: "To judge whether sprawl is a symptom of global capitalism at its most rampant and wasteful … technical arguments must be addressed. Bruegmann takes us through them lucidly and economically, neither flinching from nor getting mired in detail, and steering deftly between neo-con smugness and liberal anguish. These qualities make Sprawl a textbook for our times." In his incisive history of the expanded city, Bruegmann overturns every assumption we have about sprawl. Taking a long view of urban development, he demonstrates that sprawl is neither recent nor particularly American but as old as cities themselves, just as characteristic of ancient Rome and eighteenth-century Paris as it is of Atlanta or Los Angeles. Nor is sprawl the disaster claimed by many contemporary observers. Although sprawl, like any settlement pattern, has undoubtedly produced problems that must be addressed, it has also provided millions of people with the kinds of mobility, privacy, and choice that were once the exclusive prerogatives of the rich and powerful. Read an excerpt. . . .

Read more »

Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

April 13, 2006
By
Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

Library Journal recently praised Mark Monmonier’s new book From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame: "An amusing, informative, and topical study of the contentious issue of place names, this is recommended for public and academic libraries." Brassiere Hills, Alaska. Mollys Nipple, Utah. Outhouse Draw, Nevada. In the early twentieth century, it was common for towns and geographical features to have salacious, bawdy, and even derogatory names. In the age before political correctness, mapmakers readily accepted any local preference for place names, prizing accurate representation over standards of decorum. From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow probes this little-known chapter in American cartographic history by considering the intersecting efforts to computerize mapmaking, standardize geographic names, and respond to public concern over ethnically offensive appellations. Interweaving cartographic history with tales of politics and power, celebrated geographer Mark Monmonier locates his story within the past and present struggles of mapmakers to create an orderly process for naming that avoids confusion, preserves history, and serves different political aims. . . .

Read more »

Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

April 5, 2006
By
Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

Publishers Weekly recently reviewed Mark Monmonier’s From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame. From the review: "As the title of this slight but engaging treatise on the politics of place names indicates, a sufficiently detailed gazetteer offers plenty of material to rile up minorities, feminists and persons of refined sensibility. Geographer Monmonier gets a lot of mileage out of typing provocative words into a U.S. Geological Survey database and picking through the resulting ethnic slurs, body parts and scatological imprecations. The Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast states, with their ripe mining-camp history, offer up the most offensive place names, but even staid Newfoundland has a village named Dildo situated next to Spread Eagle Bay.… Although general readers will find much of the procedural and bureaucratic details of official place-naming arcane, they will enjoy a trove of giggle-inducing lore." . . .

Read more »

Review: Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl

March 21, 2006
By
Review: Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl

The Weekly Standard recently praised Robert Bruegmann’s Sprawl: A Compact History. From the review by Vincent J. Cannato: "his book is a refreshing antidote to the avalanche of pessimism emanating from the so-called sprawl debate. As Bruegmann writes in his introduction, it seemed as if "so many ‘right-minded’ people were so vociferous on the subject that I began to suspect that there must be something suspicious about the argument itself." He approaches the topic with some much-needed skepticism toward these ‘right-minded’ critics and adds a healthy dose of nondogmatic libertarianism to the mix. The result is an eminently readable and rational book." In his incisive history of the expanded city, Bruegmann overturns every assumption we have about sprawl. Taking a long view of urban development, he demonstrates that sprawl is neither recent nor particularly American but as old as cities themselves, just as characteristic of ancient Rome and eighteenth-century Paris as it is of Atlanta or Los Angeles. Nor is sprawl the disaster claimed by many contemporary observers. Although sprawl, like any settlement pattern, has undoubtedly produced problems that must be addressed, it has also provided millions of people with the kinds of mobility, privacy, . . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors