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Urban Archipelago: An Environmental History of the Boston Harbor Islands (Environmental History of the Northeast)

Urban Archipelago: An Environmental History of the Boston Harbor Islands (Environmental History of the Northeast)

Current price: $90.00
Publication Date: October 29th, 2021
University of Massachusetts Press
Special Order - Subject to Availability


The Boston Harbor Islands have been called Boston's "hidden shores." While some are ragged rocks teeming with coastal wildlife, such as oystercatchers and harbor seals, others resemble manicured parks or have the appearance of wooded hills rising gently out of the water. Largely ignored by historians and previously home to prisons, asylums, and sewage treatment plants, this surprisingly diverse ensemble of islands has existed quietly on the urban fringe over the last four centuries. Even their latest incarnation as a national park and recreational hub has emphasized their separation from, rather than their connection to, the city.

In this book, Pavla Šimková reinterprets the Boston Harbor Islands as an urban archipelago, arguing that they have been an integral part of Boston since colonial days, transformed by the city's changing values and catering to its current needs. Drawing on archival sources, historic maps and photographs, and diaries from island residents, this absorbing study attests that the harbor islands' story is central to understanding the ways in which Boston has both shaped and been shaped by its environment over time.

About the Author

PAVLA ŠIMKOVÁ is postdoctoral research fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich.

Praise for Urban Archipelago: An Environmental History of the Boston Harbor Islands (Environmental History of the Northeast)

"Šimková crafts a riveting scholarly book which details the relationship between the Boston Harbor Islands and the mainland city of Boston, Massachusetts."—Island Studies Journal

"Interweaving cultural history and environmental history, Šimková charts the shifting relationship between Bostonians and the thirty-four 'urban islands' and peninsulas that make up Boston’s archipelago over four hundred years . . . Engagingly written, this book will spark discussion about spatial politics in urban environmental history seminars and will inspire readers to look anew at the urban coastline."—Environmental History

"Written in a confident and engaging style, Urban Archipelago will prove educational and enlightening to historical scholars and anyone interested in Boston history and the Boston Harbor Islands."—James C. O'Connell, author of The Hub's Metropolis: Greater Boston's Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth

"Urban Archipelago tackles an important and timely topic and makes an invaluable contribution to the scholarly literature on islands, harbors, cities, and the environment. Šimková provides a sophisticated and readable treatment of a significant and understudied subject.”—Michael Rawson, author of Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston