quote of the week: the reappearing desert

How little has changed since the 1830s!  From Tocqueville's Democracy in America, published in 1835:

Sometimes the progress of man is so rapid that the desert reappears behind him. The woods stoop to give him a passage, and spring up again when he has passed. It is not uncommon in crossing the new States of the West to meet with deserted dwellings in the midst of the wilds; the traveller frequently discovers the vestiges of a log house in the most solitary retreats, which bear witness to the power, and no less to the inconstancy of man. In these abandoned fields, and over these ruins of a day, the primeval forest soon scatters a fresh vegetation, the beasts resume the haunts which were once their own, and Nature covers the traces of man's path with branches and with flowers, which obliterate his evanescent track. 

Extended passage here, all equally relevant to urban planning.  Hat tip: Ta-nehisi Coates, the Atlantic.  

Photo: Tyson Jerry, NevadaCounty.com

One Response to quote of the week: the reappearing desert

  1. Nathanael May 3, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    I expect to see this happen to Phoenix, which is set up in one of the worst locations in the US.
    New York is interesting because the forest springs up *so fast* here. The ruins vanish very quickly if nobody is mowing, under fast-growing maple trees.l That doesn’t happen everywhere.