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Montana: The Magazine of Western History

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Urbanization -- West (U.S.) -- 21st century, Cities and towns -- West (U.S.) -- History, Land use -- West (U.S.) -- Planning


In 1964 Oregon novelist Ken Kesey published Sometimes a Great Notion, the impassioned story of a fiercely (even pathologically) independent family of loggers on the southern Oregon coast. The novel is much admired by Oregonians, who read it as a tribute to the vanishing American pioneer. The urban West appears only by implication in the form of a fumbling labor organizer who longs to return to the civilized cities of California. My argument is that what we see is what we're going to get. That is, the coming decades are likely to see the American West continue to work through the impacts of the third urban revolution. It will be no more possible to re-create the world of Hank Stamper and the loggers of the Wakonda Auga watershed than the worlds of William Bent or Juan de Oñate. In particular, I want to touch on four points: (1) The end of "urbanization" in the American West; (2) the consolidation of control functions in a handful of supercities; (3) the continued "urbanizing" of what used to be the western backcountry; (4) the policy-making environment of western cities.


This is the publisher's final PDF. Article appears in Montana: The Magazine of Western History © 1993 Montana Historical Society

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