Discussion Questions

1. In what ways do natural resource history and environmental history differ?  How does doing urban environmental history differ from doing the history of an ecological region (such as the Great Plains or New England)? Does urban environmental history require a different definition of "environment"?

2. Describe the different forms of urban pollution in the early twentieth century. What kinds of wastes historically were generated by cities? What kinds of technologies were used by engineers to combat waste problems? Were they effective? Why or why not?

3. In what ways did the automobile change life for middle class  Americans in the twentieth century?  What issues led to the creation of the interstate highway system?  In what ways did the automobile contribute to class and racial inequalities?  Should automobiles in cities be banned or regulated?  Explain your answer.

4. What environmental problems have arisen with suburbanization?  How are cities and suburbs connected?  What attempts have been made to regulate suburban development?  How successful have they been?

5. Consider the role of women in urban reform movements. What kinds of women participated in reform movements? What were their concerns? What roles did they play in cleaning up urban areas and why did they take on these activities?

6. How did people of different ethnic and racial origins experience and use the urban environment? What are the differential effects of urban pollution on different ethnic groups? What roles have ethnic minorities and poor people played in environmental reform? What roles do they play today?