Climate Change and the Remaking of a Flood-Prone Environment
Urban Life, Landscape and Policy
Published by: Temple University Press
342 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 23.00 mm, 7 figs., 13 maps
- ISBN: 9781439915493
- Published: March 2018
In Sinking Chicago, Harold Platt shows how people responded to climate change in one American city over a hundred-and-fifty-year period. During a long dry spell before 1945, city residents lost sight of the connections between land use, flood control, and water quality. Then, a combination of suburban sprawl and a wet period of extreme weather events created damaging runoff surges that sank Chicago and contaminated drinking supplies with raw sewage.
Chicagoans had to learn how to remake a city built on a prairie wetland. They organized a grassroots movement to protect the six river watersheds in the semi-sacred forest preserves from being turned into open sewers, like the Chicago River. The politics of outdoor recreation clashed with the politics of water management. Platt charts a growing constituency of citizens who fought a corrupt political machine to reclaim the region’s waterways and Lake Michigan as a single eco-system. Environmentalists contested policymakers’ heroic, big-technology approaches with small-scale solutions for a flood-prone environment. Sinking Chicago lays out a roadmap to future planning outcomes.
"Platt has written the ﬁrst study of the effects of long-term climate change on the American city of Chicago. It is an important undertaking, and the author is ﬁt for the task.... Platt’s ﬁne study, then, is a model for how other historians might write the history of ongoing climate change—with a critical eye toward crafting policies that will help people weather the storm."--American Historical Review