"Give me men to match my Mountains"
inscription, Sacramento, California State Library
Sierra Nevada snow fall.
Lewis Mumford was the architectural critic for the New Yorker magazine for decades and wrote about the significance of sticks, stones and technics or craft to the natural world from which the world's cities had emerged and continued to draw upon for resources, strength and a capacity to endure as civilizing institutions where people may still fourish in security and prosperity.
Reasons for his being a crucial influence in environmental history are:
Mumford provides us with the appropriate metaphors to best understand and express the role of land, landscape and nature as it was altered in America and as an accompanying change in attitudes gave birth to landscape renewal despite the constraints of property, commercialism and resource extraction.
"One could almost say, then, that the history of the Colorado River contains a metaphor for our time. One couls say that the age of great expectations was inaugurated by Hoover Dam --a fifty year flowering of hopes when all things appeared possible. And one could say that amid the salt-encrusted sands of the river's dried-up delta, we began to founder on the Era of Limits."
Reisner, p. 121.
The virgin Colorado was tempestuous, wilfull, headstrong...
So volatile that in trying to control and channel its forces of water and mountains of silt, an entire sea was created:
"By 1904....the spring floods arrived two months early. In February, a great surge of snow-melt and warm rain spilled out of the Gila River, just above the Mexican channel,, and made off with the control gate. For the first time in centuries, the river was back in its phantom channel, the Alamo River, heading for its old haunt, the Salton Sink....a twenty-foot falls moving backward at a slow walk. By summer...the Salton Sink had once again become the Salton Sea."
Reisner, p. 123.
The Hoover Dam was the first man made structure to exceed the masonry mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
October 8, 2007.