Hardcover: 310 pages
Publisher: Walker Books; First Edition edition (November 1, 2002)
Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #919,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #85 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Civil & Environmental > Surveying & Photogrammetry #348 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Demography #892 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Reference > History
Andro Linklater is a Scottish journalist who fell in love with America when he was flying over it, looking out the window at "the spectacular grid of city blocks, the squared-off American Gothic farms, and the long, straight section roads that caught the imagination of Kerouac." Now he has written a fascinating book to tell us just how we got so square. _Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy_ (Walker) shows that geometry and land acquisition and speculation drove the development of the nation.The importance of simply measuring the land has reinforced for Americans the value of land ownership. Native Americans did not enclose or measure land, and thus they could not convincingly demonstrate (to those who wanted to take it from them) that they owned it. This pattern was true not just in America, but in, for example, South Africa and Australia. Patterns of demarcation even influenced regional character. In the South, the legislatures were dominated by landowners who relied upon local surveyors who did not use chains and theodolites, but instead relied on marked trees and memory. Such a system caused violent struggles, but it also meant that doubts over actual ownership inhibited speculation and transfer of land. In the North, farmers would settle, improve the land, sell, and move to another measured plat; in the south, owners kept the property for generations, and Linklater refers to the effect on southern literature of such patterns of survey and ownership as being good material for future scholarly research. The squares laid out in the 19th century did not help efficient farming, but they helped the financier, who could easily track the value of the squares; settlement was based on speculation.
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