"A unique and under-explored perspective of the region. Readers will find the subject both significant and timely as cities across the rust belt seek to reinvent themselves in new directions."—Linda Frank, Cayuga County Historian
"An historical geographer with exceptional talent as a writer, Scott Anderson eloquently tells the story of Auburn’s rise as a nineteenth century manufacturing and commercial center. An extremely readable, fascinating history of Central New York."—Mark Monmonier, author of Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows
"The idea of the American 'frontier' as a physical space for settlement has been largely detached from the frontier as a metaphor for the technological and entrepreneurial avant garde. This beautifully crafted study of the fortunes of one town in upstate New York over the longue dure'e of 1790-1890 successfully puts them back together."—John Agnew, author of The United States in the World Economy: A Regional Geography
"As Auburn looks toward writing its economic future, a new book provides a comprehensive account of its past. . . . Auburn, New York: The Entrepreneurs' Frontier explores the city's early economic landscape."—The Auburn Citizen
"An often-rousing narrative filled with the exploits of ambitious go-getters achieving great things in central New York. Moreover, the book is packed with striking images and photographs that illustrate how much the community changed in the nineteenth century and help bring this world to life. It will certainly appeal to folks who feel a strong connection to the city and its past."—Journal of Historical Geography
Nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, Auburn, New York, is home to some of the key figures in our nation’s history. Both William Seward and Harriet Tubman lived in Auburn, as did Martha Coffin Wright, a pioneering figure in the struggle for women’s suffrage. Auburn’s significance to American life, however, goes beyond its role in political and social movements. The seeds of American development were sown and bore fruit in small urban centers like Auburn. The town’s early and rapid success secured its place as a cornerstone
of the North American industrial core.
Anderson chronicles the story of Auburn and its inhabitants, individuals with the skills and ingenuity to nurture and sustain an economy of unprecedented growth. He describes the early settlers who capitalized on the rich geographic advantages of the area: abundant water power and access to transportation routes. The entrepreneurs and capital that Auburn attracted built it into a thriving community, one that became a center of invention, manufacturing, and finance in the mid-nineteenth century. Just as the high profits and rapid accumulation of wealth allowed the community to prosper and grow, these factors also initiated its decline. Anderson traces Auburn’s momentous rise and gradual decline, illustrating American capitalism in its rawest form as it played out in small towns across the nation.
Scott W. Anderson is associate professor and chair of the Geography Department at the State University of New York at Cortland.
7 x 10, 340 pages, 58 black and white illustrations, 29 maps