American Capitals: A Historical Geography by Christian Montès

By Christian Montès

State capitals are an indelible a part of the yankee psyche, spatial representations of kingdom energy and nationwide identification. studying them by way of middle is a ceremony of passage in grade institution, a pedagogical workout that emphasizes the significance of committing place-names to reminiscence. yet geographers haven't begun to investigate nation capitals in any intensity. In American Capitals, Christian Montès takes us on a well-researched trip throughout America—from Augusta to Sacramento, Albany to Baton Rouge—shedding gentle alongside the way in which at the historic conditions that ended in their appointment, their good fortune or failure, and their evolution over time.

While all nation capitals have a couple of features in common—as symbols of the country, as embodiments of political strength and choice making, as public areas with deepest interests—Montès doesn't interpret them via a unmarried lens, largely end result of the changes of their spatial and old evolutionary styles. a few have remained small, whereas others have advanced into bustling metropolises, and Montès explores the dynamics of switch and progress. All yet 11 country capitals have been verified within the 19th century, thirty-five ahead of 1861, yet, fairly astonishingly, merely 8 of the fifty states have maintained their unique capitals. regardless of their respected prestige because the so much enormous and historic towns in the United States, capitals come from unusually humble beginnings, frequently suffering from instability, clash, hostility, and corruption. Montès reminds us of the interval within which they took place, “an period of pioneer and idealized territorial vision,” coupled with a still-evolving American citizenry and democracy.

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Among the most unusual plats were those of Circleville, Ohio, in the 1830s, and Octagon City, Kansas, twenty years later. ” In such a context, capitals were often planned even more carefully. Ohio illustrates the importance of the plan in the choice of a capital. In 1810, the legislature designated a commission to select a new capital near the center of the state. The centrally located city of Franklinton seemed a natural choice: as the county seat, it had become an important trading place. But the five commissioners discarded it.

Nicholson later designed Williamsburg in 1705, putting the same great “emphasis upon a celebrative civic aesthetic” (Fries 1977, 30). Here too, “civic” meant that the plan provided not only for private needs but also for public ones. A new phase was reached after the Revolution. A third dimension was added to the planning process with the inclusion of public buildings. Virginia’s 1779 act to move the capital to Richmond provided for the first time for the inclusion of the three branches of government into a plat, as well as for the planning of specific government buildings (Reps 1972, 270).

But Pumpkinville, owing to local production, was the real first name of Phoenix, Arizona, whose new name was linked to the renaissance of an old Indian canal system. Terminus, owing to its railroad origins, became Marthasville (named for Governor Milledge’s daughter) and then Atlanta. Pig’s Eye became St. Paul, thanks to the prescience of Father Lucien Galtier, who had been sent there by the Roman Catholic bishop of Dubuque to evangelize the newly settled land near Fort Snelling. Galtier founded the chapel of St.

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