Header                         Images of impacts on the land


American Environmental Photographs




The preservation of scenic or rare terrains, such as Central Park New York in the 1850s was a turning point in national sentiments about protecting environmental qualities that Emerson called "landscape." line
Rock in Central Park Hooverville
A Glacial erratic forming part of Central Park, New York. New York City from Central Park looking west in 1930s

John Wesley Powell

When Powell went west in the late 1860s few if any of America's forty cowmillion people had ever been to the territories where annual rainfall levels are diminished below the amount necessary to sustain farms and families.

The west was called by Powell the Arid Regions, for which he designed an elaborate plan.

Wasatch Mountain's watershed above the Great Salt Lake.
The Arid Regions West of the Mississippi River rainfall diminishes.

Parker Dam



Parker dam on California's & Arizona's border.
Chaco Canyon with Chaco Butte in the background, New Mexico.



Acoma, "sky pueblo" Church built of adobe clay in New Mexico.
Puebloan oikumene, built environment from the adobe mud.

Unlike the materials used in the east, Native peoples used rocks and adobe clay from the rivers to build their lodgings and sacred buildings.




Irrigation and erosion

Settlement brings with it a degradation of the landscape. Landscape renewal was the argument proposed by George Perkins Marsh to remedy the disturbed harmonies caused by settlement

Land erosion


Colorado River valley
impact of deforestation on the environment.
Colorado River valley, Arizona-California border station.
Bandalier photo
Indigenous Pueblo land system, Bandolier, New Mexico.
Effects of the U. S. survey grid of the land system.
The Pacific Northwest is sustained by the Columbia River and dams to conserve water for irrigation, farming, electricity, and navigation.
Columbia River
Scenic intrusions due to deforestation in Washington state & logging in Oregon.
Dams along the Columbia River in Washington.


In the arid west irrigation was largely conserving water for farms.  


Dams on Western Rivers like this dam on the Snake River are at times located in national parks.
Southwest Teton Dam
Great Central Valley & Southern California aqueducts.
Teton Park dam on the Snake River, Wyoming.
Municipal water supplies became the focus of water policy in the arid western regions.
s Angeles
The Los Angeles river The setting of Los Angeles against a mountain watershed.

American environmental history

Land Survey system of the United States

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Southern California; Los Angeles river.
Los Angeles against the Angeles National Forest backdrop.