In the Zone

Image Credit: Dr. Richard Alan Keen

“The summer climate of Philadelphia, and other large cities similarly situated, is an artificial torrid zone, in which the thermometer rises from four to six degrees higher as it does at a distance of a few miles in the country.”

This was Charles Caldwell, a physician, in 1801.

Caldwell was trying to understand why Yellow Fever, a tropical disease, kept recurring in Philadelphia in the 1790s. The chief contributors to Philadelphia’s “factitious climate,” according to Caldwell: deforestation, overbuilding, fuel use, and pavement.

Sound familiar?

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.



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