Nature Next Door

Cities and Trees in the American Northeast

Ellen Stroud
Foreword by William Cronon

  • $19.95 paperback (9780295993317) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: October 2012
  • Subject Listing: Environmental History
  • Bibliographic information: 232 pp., 57 illus., 9 maps, notes, bibliog., index, 6 x 8 in.
  • Territorial rights: World
  • Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
  • Contents

A History News Network Best Book of 2012

The once denuded northeastern United States is now a region of trees. Nature Next Door argues that the growth of cities, the construction of parks, the transformation of farming, the boom in tourism, and changes in the timber industry have together brought about a return of northeastern forests. Although historians and historical actors alike have seen urban and rural areas as distinct, they are in fact intertwined, and the dichotomies of farm and forest, agriculture and industry, and nature and culture break down when the focus is on the history of northeastern woods. Cities, trees, mills, rivers, houses, and farms are all part of a single, transformed, regional landscape.

In this examination of the cities and forests of the northeastern United States - with particular attention to the woods of Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Vermont - Ellen Stroud shows how urbanization processes fostered a period of recovery for forests, with cities not merely consumers of nature but creators as well. Interactions between city and hinterland in the twentieth-century Northeast created a new wildness of metropolitan nature: a reforested landscape intricately entangled with the region's cities and towns.

Ellen Stroud is an environmental historian at Bryn Mawr College, where she is an associate professor in the Growth and Structure of Cities Department and holds the Johanna Alderfer Harris and William H. Harris M.D. Chair in Environmental Studies.

"Stroud's idea that forests were shaped by human choice is an important complement to the standard story of forest succession in abandoned farmlands in the Northeast." - Richard Judd, University of Maine

"The moral of Stroud's story has implications far beyond the American Northeast: the region has forests today because people made choices about them and then did the hard practical and political work of making those choices real. Such things do not happen by accident. They happen because people make them happen. That is as true today as it was a hundred years ago." - from the Foreword by William Cronon

“Ellen Stroud offers a compelling historical explanation for the return of America’s northeastern forests. Historians, land managers, and elected officials would do well to consider the historical and continuing relationship between forests, towns, and cities in America’s Northeast. Stroud’s excellent book offers an instructive path into the woods.” -Aaron Shapiro, Environmental History, October 2013

“The extent of reforestation in the American Northeast is nothing short of remarkable, especially considering that it is the most urbanized region of the nation. Once 75 percent deforested, the region is now 75 percent forested. In this elegant volume, Ellen Stroud asks how that happened and finds unexpected answers.” -Albert G. Way, Journal of American History, August 2013

“Ellen Stroud…explores the Northeast’s interconnected urban and rural spaces and invites readers to reconsider old assumptions about their separateness. Nature Next Door is essential reading for scholars and citizens interested in the relationship between urban and rural history.” -Anthony Penna, The New England Quarterly, September 2013

"This book is to be recommended to forestry professionals and practitioners, as well as providing a valuable reference to both educators and students in natural resource management and policy." -Benktesh D. Sharma, Human Ecology, May 2013

"With this intriguing book, environmental historian Stroud has fundamentally rewritten the recent forest history of the northeastern US. . . . Valuable for anyone interested in forestry, urban forestry, and land use or conservation. Highly recommended." -G. D. Dryer, Choice, May 2013

"The book illuminates the web of connections between forests and the quality of human life, and documents some of the ways in which people have strengthened those ties." -Publishers Weekly, September 2012