The City Is More Than Human

An Animal History of Seattle

Frederick L. Brown
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter

  • Published: 2016. Paperback February 2019
  • Subject Listing: History / Western History; History / Environmental History; Pacific Northwest
  • Bibliographic information: 352 pp., 44 bandw illus., 5 maps, 6 tables, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
  • Contents

Winner of the 2017 Virginia Marie Folkins Award, Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO)
Winner of the 2017 Hal K. Rothman Book Prize, Western History Association

Seattle would not exist without animals. Animals have played a vital role in shaping the city from its founding amid existing indigenous towns in the mid-nineteenth century to the livestock-friendly town of the late nineteenth century to the pet-friendly, livestock-averse modern city.

When newcomers first arrived in the 1850s, they hastened to assemble the familiar cohort of cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, and other animals that defined European agriculture. This, in turn, contributed to the dispossession of the Native residents of the area. However, just as various animals were used to create a Euro-American city, the elimination of these same animals from Seattle was key to the creation of the new middle-class neighborhoods of the twentieth century. As dogs and cats came to symbolize home and family, Seattleites' relationship with livestock became distant and exploitative, demonstrating the deep social contradictions that characterize the modern American metropolis.

Throughout Seattle's history, people have sorted animals into categories and into places as a way of asserting power over animals, other people, and property. In The City Is More Than Human, Frederick Brown explores the dynamic, troubled relationship humans have with animals. In so doing he challenges us to acknowledge the role of animals of all sorts in the making and remaking of cities.
Frederick L. Brown holds a PhD in history from the University of Washington and works on a contract basis as a historian for the National Park Service.

"Nothing short of pathbreaking. Brown organizes this potentially overwhelming topic into a highly influential study with remarkable grace and concision."
-Thomas Andrews, author of Coyote Valley: Deep History in the High Rockies

"Frederick Brown's wonderful history of Seattle brings the city's story into conversation with the growing field of animal studies, illustrating the ways in which nonhuman animals of many kinds have been at the center of Seattle's history - often in ways we might find surprising today. Learning about these animal lives can tell us not only how cattle, dogs, and salmon experienced this place, but also how talking about what it means to be an urban animal offers important insights into what it means to be human."
-Coll Thrush, author of Indigenous London: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire and Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place

"What is the place of animals in the American city? The answers, as Frederick Brown argues in this inventive book, say as much about being human as they do about the many creatures prowling our streets and sharing our homes. Corralling cows, killing cougars, loving dogs and eating salmon were more than asserting an illusory control over nature. Instead, Brown concludes, such interactions redefined which creatures, human and animal, were allowed to claim Seattle as their own. The City Is More Than Human is an ambitious and important retelling of America's urban past."
-Matthew Klingle, author of Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle

Foreword The Animal Turn in Urban History / Paul S. Sutter

1. Beavers, Cougars, and Cattle Constructing the Town and the Wilderness
2. Cows Closing the Grazing Commons
3. Horses The Rise and Decline of Urban Equine Workers
4. Dogs and Cats Loving Pets in Urban Homes
5. Cattle, Pigs, Chickens, and Salmon Eating Animals on Urban Plates

Appendix: Methodology
List of Abbreviations

"For the Seattle history buff it's a must read; for the urbanist it broadens the sense of what the city is, who it's for, and how critters are partners in shaping urban life."
-Knute Berger, Crosscut

"Virtually any Northwest community would recognize itself in much of this book. . . . The City Is More Than Human is a tough but valuable read, challenging us to consider our actions and attitudes toward other species."
-Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Kitsap Sun