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Thread: Local History

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State

    Local History

    As planners we often have to read local histories as part of the background for projects we complete. I sometimes wonder if they were all written by the same person. They seem to follow a general format.

    The obligatory reference to Native Americans…

    The area around Podunk was originally inhabited by Indians who had a village near Babbling Brook. Main Street was originally an Indian trail connecting to Big City. The last Indians left the area in the 1840's.

    Oh sure, they just left. We wouldn't want to dig too deeply there. And now for the "early years" of settlement…

    The first person to settle in what is now Podunk was Elijah White, who built a small cabin in 1840. It stood on the high ground over the river until 1970, when it was torn down to put up a new apartment building. He was soon joined by his wife, Exuberance. They had eight children, Ezekiel, Prosper, Increase, Flourish, Faith, Hope, Temperance, and Regrettable.

    Next, we move on to the bustling years of a new small city…

    Other settlers soon followed. In 1858 the first grist mill was constructed. In 1860 Sam Drucker opened the first general store. A rail line soon extended from Big City and industry began to flourish.

    Uh-oh, here come the "wide-open" years, with a subtle tone of ethnic/racial prejudice…

    Irish/Italian/German/Polish (choose any ethnicity) immigrants soon swarmed in. Podunk grew overnight to 3,000 people. The town roared all night long with two hotels, seven taverns, a brothel, and a synagogue!

    And then comes the inevitable collapse…

    But in 1901 the bedpan factory was forced to close as more people built homes with indoor plumbing. Hundreds left and Podunk' population fell to 2,000, where it stayed for decades. It was during these years that Podunk was chosen by the state for the site of the State Hospital for the Insane.

    Of course, there is the bright ending, complete with predictable tag line…

    Following World War Two families again began moving to Podunk. Today there are more than 5,000 residents, making it the sixth-largest city in the county. The future looks bright for Podunk – The Place for Business!

    Oh, maybe I am a little sarcastic, but am I wrong?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Dec 2001
    West Valley, AZ
    I think your right, but for most towns established in the 19th century the story will be boringly the same. Not every town has a Johnstown flood, a Xenia tornado or some other natural or unnatural disaster which warrant recording in the abbreviated town history.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Feb 2004
    on my 15 minute break
    Quote Originally posted by cardinal
    Oh, maybe I am a little sarcastic, but am I wrong?
    Not at all wrong. There's certainly a kernel of truth to your appraisal.

    Oh, and FYI the greatest planning minds in the galaxy have contemplated this very issue.


    Last edited by Maister; 22 Sep 2008 at 1:57 PM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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