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Technology, Markets, Space. Lessons from the Calumet Region. Myths of the Information Age. Geography is irrelevant Race, class, and gender are irrelevant Frontiers are empty places

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technology markets space

Technology, Markets, Space

Lessons from the Calumet Region

myths of the information age
Myths of the Information Age
  • Geography is irrelevant
  • Race, class, and gender are irrelevant
  • Frontiers are empty places
  • Persons are powerful as individuals: My Yahoo! Where Do You Want To Go Today?

Free Corporations and a Wonderful Future will be Created

network society
Network Society

The space of flows is made up of discontinuous locales whose function

and meaning depend on their positioning and repositioning in a network of instrumental flows.

Manuel Castells, sociologist of the Informational City


Market incentives force corporations to transform environments into sets of manageable resources.

Unorganized individuals are not free to resist this logic.

Social worlds created by unfettered markets are not the kind we would choose to inhabit.

making flows visible
Making Flows Visible

Myths of the Information Society

Make Flows Invisible

History of the Calumet Region

Make Flows Visible

steel as key technology
Steel as Key Technology

There is a mystique involved in the steel industry that makes it a symbol of economic strength all over the world. The great industrial economies that emerged in the nineteenth century were built on steel, and wars were won with it. For more than a century, both politicians and economists have regarded steel capacity as a measure of industrial progress and a source of geopolitical power.

Business Week, 1977

networks of the calumet region
Networks of the Calumet Region

The city of Gary was conceived in the counting rooms and born in a jungle. It was nursed on faith and schooled in the fiery furnace of toil. It is peopled by men and women of every living tongue and creed, while in marts of the world, it stands as the horoscope of good or evil symptoms in the final aspect of Christendom. As steel goes, so goes the world, and Gary is its prophet.

calumet region parallels
Calumet Region Parallels
  • Frontier
  • Global Village
  • Leading Edge Technologies
  • Economic Driver
  • Largest Concentration of Industry on the Planet
promise of the calumet region
Promise of the Calumet Region

Optimistic observers hail Gary as the ‘City of the Century’ an industrial utopia made real by American technology. “Gary will be the most picturesque city of them all” wrote one booster wrote in 1909. Another admirer in 1911 wrote that Gary presented the most wonderful record of growth, in the shortest period of time, of any town or city in the civilized world.

Raymond Mohl, Steel City

myths of the calumet region
Myths of the Calumet Region

We may assert that the Region has indeed produced its own myth, that of a cultural desert peopled by blue-collar workers living in the midst of polluted skies, garbage dumps, and violent ghettos.

Richard Dorson, oral historian, Land of the Millrats

regional flows
Regional Flows
  • Access to Customers
  • Access to Chicago Rail
  • Access to Iron Ore
  • Access to Coal
  • Access to Labor
  • Access to Empty Land
  • Access to Water
dunes environmental flows
Dunes Environmental Flows
  • Boundary of Eastern Forest and Western Prairie
  • Boundary of Northern Boreal and Southern Warm Climate
  • Varied Local Topography

Third among all national parks in biodiversity. Over 1300 prairie, deciduous forest, bog, rainforest, desert, and arctic plants in only 13,954 acres.

jens jensen
Jens Jensen

The dunes of northern Indiana are one of the great expressions of wild beauty in this country. They are the greatest of nature’s expressions of this beauty in the Middle West and as a type of landscape they are unequaled anywhere in the world

birthplace of ecology
Birthplace of Ecology

A keen observer, walking inland from the water’s edge, could trace a pattern of ecological succession in space which paralleled the development of vegetation in time.

The engine of progress was not so much competition between individuals as experiments by pioneering associations of organisms in more adaptive reciprocal relationships with one another and their environment.

Dr. Henry Cowles, 1896

culture of the calumet region
Culture of the Calumet Region
  • Biology: Henry Cowles Founds Ecology
  • Sociology: Chicago School+Biotic Principle
  • Architecture: Prairie School, F. L.Wright
  • Poetry, Painting, Sculpture
invisible flows
Invisible Flows

Without organized resistance,

corporations face imperatives

which force them to transform

their environment into a set of resources.

Short term profits are maximized

at the expense of social welfare.

social disasters
Social Disasters

Early Decisions Maximized Corporate Resources

at the Expense of:

  • Poor Urban Form
  • Social Segregation
  • Structural Racial Inequality
  • Environmental Devastation
  • Labor Crises
original gary urban form
Original Gary Urban Form
  • Social Segregation
  • No Lake Access
  • Uniform Grid
  • No Public Spaces
  • No Green Spaces
  • No Diagonals
  • Rail Disruptions
planned social segregation
Because of U.S. Steel’s limited concept of town planning, two strikingly different Garys emerged: one neat and scenic, the other chaotic and squalid.Planned Social Segregation
1937 zoning
1937 Zoning

The impact of HOLC in Gary, it should be clear, was to consign the city’s black sections, as well as adjacent white sections, to a future of physical decay and increased racial segregation.

grand calumet 1900
Grand Calumet 1900

Historically, the Grand Calumet River supported highly diverse, globally unique fish and wildlife


grand calumet river pollutants
Grand Calumet River Pollutants
  • Among the most widely polluted waterways in the world with 423 hazardous water sites listed under RCRA.
  • Entire bottom is composed of minute iron particles.
  • 90% of the river’s flow originates as municipal and industrial effluent.
  • PCBs, PAHs, Mercury, Arsenic, Copper, Cadmium, Dioxins, Chromium, Lead and 3,100 pounds of Cyanide.
  • Not even sludge worms can survive, lab animals exposed to sediments had a 100 percent mortality.
calumet region air pollution
Calumet Region Air Pollution

This is not to be a

smoky city, modern

methods enabling the

extraction from the

smoke of all gases

and fumes.


us steel air pollution
US Steel Air Pollution

U. S. Steel’s

Gary Works

is the single

largest air

polluter in the

United States.

race class and pollution intersect
Race, Class and Pollution Intersect

The residents of Altgeld Gardens, a public housing project on the far southeast side of Chicago are mostly black and Latinos. To the west of the housing complex are steel mills. To the south are two landfills. To the north, a sewage treatment plant. And to the east, a paint factory, two chemical plants, and a chemical incinerator. There are 52 abandoned landfills documented in the area and a high rate of cancer and birth deformities. Local activists call it the Toxic Doughnut.

getting to the bottom of things
Getting to the Bottom of Things

The refineries were we loaded and unloaded our cargo were enormous, hellish structures, labyrinthine networks of hissing pipes and towers of flame, and to walk through one of them at night was to feel that you were living in your own worst dream....The ugliness was so universal, so deeply connected to the business of making money and the power that money bestowed on the ones who made it--even to the point of disfiguring the landscape, of turning the natural world inside out--that I began to develop a grudging respect for it. Get to the bottom of things, I told myself, and this was how the world looked.Novelist Paul Auster

cityscape as visible flow
Cityscape as Visible Flow

Stripped down to their essences, leftover buildings and discarded spaces form cityscapes of great power. While they last, we have our ruins and the immense longings they instill in us. Even at risk of bodily harm, we need to hear the elemental chant that comes from our skeletal neighborhoods. The ‘City of the Broad Shoulders,’ and ‘Steel City,’ sing about the shortness of life, the awesome beauty of our creations, and our abject failure to create a just society. With their chant they beckon us to come home and perhaps try again.

Camilo Jose Vergara

virtual society disasters
Virtual Society Disasters

Decisions Made Today Give Shape to the Information Age

  • Poor Urban Form
  • Social Segregation
  • Structural Racial Inequality
  • Environmental Devastation
  • Labor Crises
policing the information society
Policing the Information Society

Like the 1919

steel strike in Gary, state power maintains

urban tranquility in 1999 Seattle.