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Matthew Booker

Associate Professor

NC State University

Department of History

Area(s) of Expertise

What can be learned from previous episodes of rapid ecological and social change? For example, what can we learn from the extraordinary food production within industrializing cities in the 19th century, much of which adapted creatively to huge influxes of migrants and rapidly changing environmental conditions? From the 1880s-1920s, one of the most valuable U.S. fisheries was Atlantic oysters, shipped alive overland by train and planted as far afield as San Francisco Bay. Urban estuaries produced millions of oysters annually. This industry flourished during a period of rapid social and environmental change. How and why did this industry thrive, and why did it decline. The answer seems to be as much due to social and cultural factors as environmental ones. What assumptions are we making about future changes to our cities today?