Battling the Inland Sea

Author: Robert Kelley
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 9780520921214
Format: PDF, ePub
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In its natural condition the Sacramento Valley was a flood-ravaged region where an inland sea a hundred miles long regularly formed during the rainy season, to drain slowly away by the summer months. Today the Valley is marvelously productive, with a great capital city at its center, but only after a seventy-year struggle to devise and build an intricate thousand miles of levees and drains. Robert Kelley sets that battle within the encompassing national political culture, which produced, through the Republican and Democratic parties, widely diverging ideas about how best to reclaim the Valley from flood. He draws on approaches developed in the field of policy analysis to examine the relationship between American political culture and environmental policy-making. We find that the prolonged controversy over the Sacramento Valley illuminates American decision-making, then and now.

Battling the Inland Sea

Author: Robert Kelley
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520214285
Format: PDF, Docs
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"Of late historians have become increasingly interested in the vast re-ordering of the environment involved in the creation of America. Nowhere was this more true than in the Sacramento Valley where re-ordering edged into folly. Battling the Inland Sea is a powerful evocation of the losses and gains involved in battling the mighty Sacramento River. But more than this, it is an exploration of the national will as it sought to rearrange nature herself with such mixed results. Here is history dealing with the most elemental forces of land, water and engineering as they are shaped by public policy. Here is the profound drama of value and symbol which occurs when Americans come into conflict with forces over which they can exercise, as Robert Kelley shows, only the most transitory and pyrrhic victories."—Kevin Starr, author of the Americans and the California Dream "Robert Kelley's research into the origins of California's first great flood control system has already helped to inform the shaping of the state's water laws. Now he opens up the benefits of that work for the average reader in a wonderfully clear and engaging story that manages, among other things, to show that water development in the United States hasn't been just a matter of engineering but a cultural and intellectual achievement as well."—William Kahrl, author of Water and Power "A vividly written narrative of one of the major transformations of the physical world we inhabit. Robert Kelley draws upon his rich store of learning and insight to set the struggles over the Sacramento Valley into a broad context. His book contains important lessons for those who would understand the American economy, environment, politics, or culture."—Daniel W. Howe, author of The Political Culture of the American Whigs

River City and Valley Life

Author: Christopher J. Castaneda
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
ISBN: 0822979187
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Often referred to as “the Big Tomato,” Sacramento is a city whose makeup is significantly more complex than its agriculture-based sobriquet implies. In River City and Valley Life, seventeen contributors reveal the major transformations to the natural and built environment that have shaped Sacramento and its suburbs, residents, politics, and economics throughout its history. The site that would become Sacramento was settled in 1839, when Johann Augustus Sutter attempted to convert his Mexican land grant into New Helvetia (or “New Switzerland”). It was at Sutter’s sawmill fifty miles to the east that gold was first discovered, leading to the California Gold Rush of 1849. Nearly overnight, Sacramento became a boomtown, and cityhood followed in 1850. Ideally situated at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, the city was connected by waterway to San Francisco and the surrounding region. Combined with the area’s warm and sunny climate, the rivers provided the necessary water supply for agriculture to flourish. The devastation wrought by floods and cholera, however, took a huge toll on early populations and led to the construction of an extensive levee system that raised the downtown street level to combat flooding. Great fortune came when local entrepreneurs built the Central Pacific Railroad, and in 1869 it connected with the Union Pacific Railroad to form the first transcontinental passage. Sacramento soon became an industrial hub and major food-processing center. By 1879, it was named the state capital and seat of government. In the twentieth century, the Sacramento area benefitted from the federal government’s major investment in the construction and operation of three military bases and other regional public works projects. Rapid suburbanization followed along with the building of highways, bridges, schools, parks, hydroelectric dams, and the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant, which activists would later shut down. Today, several tribal gaming resorts attract patrons to the area, while “Old Sacramento” revitalizes the original downtown as it celebrates Sacramento’s pioneering past. This environmental history of Sacramento provides a compelling case study of urban and suburban development in California and the American West. As the contributors show, Sacramento has seen its landscape both ravaged and reborn. As blighted areas, rail yards, and riverfronts have been reclaimed, and parks and green spaces created and expanded, Sacramento’s identity continues to evolve. As it moves beyond its Gold Rush, Transcontinental Railroad, and government-town heritage, Sacramento remains a city and region deeply rooted in its natural environment.

Floodplains

Author: Jeffrey J. Opperman
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520294106
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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"Floodplains provides an overview of floodplains and their management in temperate regions. It synthesizes decades of research on floodplain ecosystems, explaining hydrologic, geomorphic and ecological processes and how these processes can provide a range of benefits to society under appropriate management. Due to the widespread alteration of temperate floodplains, these benefits are often not realized. Drawing on the framework of reconciliation ecology, the authors explore how new concepts for floodplain ecosystem restoration and management can provide a broader range of benefits to society, ranging from healthy fish populations to flood-risk reduction. Case studies from California's Central Valley and elsewhere in temperate regions show how innovative management approaches are reshaping rivers and floodplains around the world."--Provided by publisher.

Endangered Dreams

Author: Kevin Starr
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199923566
Format: PDF, Kindle
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California, Wallace Stegner observed, is like the rest of the United States, only more so. Indeed, the Golden State has always seemed to be a place where the hopes and fears of the American dream have been played out in a bigger and bolder way. And no one has done more to capture this epic story than Kevin Starr, in his acclaimed series of gripping social and cultural histories. Now Starr carries his account into the 1930s, when the political extremes that threatened so much of the Depression-ravaged world--fascism and communism--loomed large across the California landscape. In Endangered Dreams, Starr paints a portrait that is both detailed and panoramic, offering a vivid look at the personalities and events that shaped a decade of explosive tension. He begins with the rise of radicalism on the Pacific Coast, which erupted when the Great Depression swept over California in the 1930s. Starr captures the triumphs and tumult of the great agricultural strikes in the Imperial Valley, the San Joaquin Valley, Stockton, and Salinas, identifying the crucial role played by Communist organizers; he also shows how, after some successes, the Communists disbanded their unions on direct orders of the Comintern in 1935. The highpoint of social conflict, however, was 1934, the year of the coastwide maritime strike, and here Starr's narrative talents are at their best, as he brings to life the astonishing general strike that took control of San Francisco, where workers led by charismatic longshoreman Harry Bridges mounted the barricades to stand off National Guardsmen. That same year socialist Upton Sinclair won the Democratic nomination for governor, and he launched his dramatic End Poverty in California (EPIC) campaign. In the end, however, these challenges galvanized the Right in a corporate, legal, and vigilante counterattack that crushed both organized labor and Sinclair. And yet, the Depression also brought out the finest in Californians: state Democrats fought for a local New Deal; California natives helped care for more than a million impoverished migrants through public and private programs; artists movingly documented the impact of the Depression; and an unprecedented program of public works (capped by the Golden Gate Bridge) made the California we know today possible. In capturing the powerful forces that swept the state during the 1930s--radicalism, repression, construction, and artistic expression--Starr weaves an insightful analysis into his narrative fabric. Out of a shattered decade of economic and social dislocation, he constructs a coherent whole and a mirror for understanding our own time.

Material Dreams

Author: Kevin Starr
Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand
ISBN: 019507260X
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Kevin Starr is the foremost chronicler of the California dream and indeed one of the finest narrative historians writing today on any subject. The first two installments of his monumental cultural history, "Americans and the California Dream," have been hailed as "mature, well-proportioned and marvelously diverse (and diverting)" (The New York Times Book Review) and "rich in details and alive with interesting, and sometimes incredible people" (Los Angeles Times). Now, in Material Dreams, Starr turns to one of the most vibrant decades in the Golden State's history, the 1920s, when some two million Americans migrated to California, the vast majority settling in or around Los Angeles. In a lively and eminently readable narrative, Starr reveals how Los Angeles arose almost defiantly on a site lacking many of the advantages required for urban development, creating itself out of sheer will, the Great Gatsby of American cities. He describes how William Ellsworth Smyth, the Peter the Hermit of the Irrigation Crusade, the self-educated, Irish engineer William Mulholland (who built the main aquaducts to Los Angeles), and George Chaffey (who diverted the Colorado River, transforming desert into the lush Imperial Valley) brought life-supporting water to the arid South. He examines the discovery of oil, the boosters and land developers, the evangelists (such as Bob Shuler, the Methodist Savanarola of Los Angeles, and Aimee Semple McPherson), and countless other colorful figures of the period. There are also fascinating sections on the city's architecture the impact of the automobile on city planning, the Hollywood film community, the L.A. literati, and much more. By the end of the decade, Los Angeles had tripled in population and become the fifth largest city in the nation. In Material Dreams, Starr captures this explosive growth in a narrative tour de force that combines wide-ranging scholarship with captivating prose.