REECAS Quarterly Course Lists

Spring 2021: L ARCH 454 History of Urban Landscapes and Environments

Spring 2021

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Meeting Time: MWF 10:00 am – 11:20 am

Location: Online

SLN: 15877

Joint Sections: N/A

Instructor: Maria C Taylor

Additional Details:

This course explores the history of urban landscapes as effected by the intersection of three fields: industrialization, afforestation (tree-planting), and hygiene reform/hazard mitigation. While current professional and disciplinary norms might silo these fields, historically urban landscape design and urban hygiene/health infrastructure were tightly connected. As landscape historian Sonja Dümpelmann writes, “street trees have stood at the very core of events that have shaped and characterized the evolution of the modern city”[1] and remain central to discussions of urban heat island, neighborhood disinvestment / red-lining, and urban biodiversity today.

Understanding the historical connections between urban environmental design (i.e. street-trees), environmental hazards (smokestacks), and healthy living conditions (sanitation) takes on additional urgency in the current context of the global CoVID-19 pandemic. The historic relationship of urban eco-system services to community and environmental health is also directly relevant to the crises of ongoing anthropogenic climate change and social inequality.

Using insights gleaned from recent scholarship in urban environmental history, landscape and urban design history, and post-colonial eco-criticism, this course will begin with urban landscapes affected by the emergence of global networks of trade and exploitation (circa 1500), tracing themes of power, aesthetics, and hygiene up to the early 21st century. The urban environmental history of specific North American cities (Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Mexico City) will share the stage with international examples based on student interests (Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow, Delhi, Tokyo and others to be determined). Emphasis will be placed on the history of urban landscapes developed outside “Western” capitalist traditions, including the so-called “Second World” of socialist countries, and the impact of ideology on the development of urban forestry and other infrastructural systems.