Water geeks know that Waukesha, WI has been trying to obtain water from Lake Michigan, against the prohibition in the Great Lakes Compact preventing distribution of water beyond the watershed. This breezy environmental history says that water has been at the center of Waukesha’s history since the beginning.
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National Parks are often referred to as “America’s best idea.” Recent scholarship and well-publicized difficulties within the agency have shown that, perhaps inevitably, the National Park Service and the extensive system that it manages, has taken on important characteristics of the society of which it is a part, for better or worse.
Place always exists in a particular time, and for Northeastern Pennsylvania that time is anthracite coal time. Because coal mining has decreased significantly over the past 50 years, the result has been a major outmigration of the area’s traditional population… However, the legacy of coal still runs deep as reminders of coal heritage are scattered throughout the 484 square miles that make up the anthracite coal region.
We recognize the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., mainly through its associated landscape, whether of gloriously blooming cherry trees or the famous monuments surrounding it. It is a famous place largely because of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which draws a large number of visitors to the capital.
Rivers have long been the spines of our greatest cities. Regardless of your geography prowess, you have no doubt heard of them—Thames, Seine, Potomac, Tiber, Ganges, Nile. These names twist through our history and culture in ways that imitate their own billowing shapes. They feed our wells and our fields. They clean away our rubbish. They are the arteries of our civilization…
How do we see an urban, industrial river? How do we hear its stories? Who gets to tell them? I first got on the lower, tidal Schuylkill River on October fifth, 2015. With a boat captain, a first mate, and a photographer, I was helping push a floating lab for experiments in sustainability into position. Since that day, these questions about how to see and to listen for Philadelphia rivers’ stories have occupied me, a historian trained originally in European literature and in the print culture of the colonial Atlantic world…