The Metropolitan Frontier

Cities in the Modern American West

Carl Abbott (Author)
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When the American West represented the country’s frontier, many of its cities may have seemed little more than trading centers to serve the outlying populace. Now the nation’s most open and empty region is also its most heavily urbanized, with eighty percent of Westerners living in its metropolitan areas. The process of urbanization that had already transformed the United States from a rural to an urban society between 1815 and 1930 has continued most clearly and completely in the modern West, where growth since 1940—spurred by mobilization for World War II—has constituted a distinct era in which Western cities have become national and even international pacesetters.

The Metropolitan Frontier places this last half-century of Western history in its urban context, making it the first comprehensive overview of urban growth in the region. Integrating the urban experience of all nineteen Western states, Carl Abbott ranges for evidence from Honolulu to Houston and from Fargo to Fairbanks to show how Western cities organize the region's vast spaces and connect them to the even larger sphere of the world economy. His survey moves from economic change to social and political response, examining the initial boom of the 1940s, the process of change in the following decades, and the ultimate impact of Western cities on their environments, on the Western regional character, and on national identity.

Today, a steadily decreasing number of Western workers are engaged in rural industries, but Western cities continue to grow. As ecological and social crises begin to affect those cities, Abbott’s study will prove required reading for historians, geographers, sociologists, urban planners, and all citizens concerned with America’s future.
Winner, Best Book in North American Urban History (Urban History Association)

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

“The leading overview of the subject. . .Abbott deftly organizes his sprawling topic into ten especially well-written chapters. [The book] is a tour-de-force of interdisciplinary social science and makes a major contribution to fields as diverse as regional history, urban geography, and public policymaking.”—Choice

“Perhaps more than anything else, this book is about connections and networks. . . .[It] allows us to understand how the numerous cities of North America fit together and into what kind of whole. In this respect, it is in a class by itself.”—Western Historical Quarterly

“Abbott has done a thorough job. . . . The cities of the American West are seen through a kaleidoscope of cultural, political, historical images.”—Library Journal

“An ambitious attempt to describe one of the most significant trends in contemporary American society. The author, an urban historian with a strong knowledge of the subject matter, takes the reader on an engaging and informative journey filled with demographic facts and archival information about the western region.”—Contemporary Sociology

“This is an outstanding book. It makes a significant contribution to the broad field of American urban history by presenting the model of Western cities as a unique and pioneering example of urban growth in the twentieth century.”—Gerald D. Nash

“The book exhibits remarkable breadth without sacrificing depth...No matter what part of the West he is treating, he has a good eye for the telling statistic or quote and, despite a wealth of detail, manages to keep the big picture front and center.”—Howard N. Rabinowitz
The Metropolitan Frontier
244 Pages 6.125 x 9.25 x 0.8
Published: September 1995Paperback ISBN: 9780816515707
Published: November 1993Ebook ISBN: 9780816544936

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