• The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Urban Landscape, 1840–Present
    Sara Jensen Carr
    University of Virginia Press, 2021
    Sara Jensen Carr

Sara Jensen Carr, illustration, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

The Topography of Wellness is a chronological narrative of how six epidemics transformed the American urban landscape, reflecting changing views of the power of design, pathology of disease, and the epidemiology of the environment. From the infectious diseases of cholera and tuberculosis, to so-called “social diseases” of idleness and crime, to the more complicated origins of today’s chronic diseases, each illness and its associated combat strategies of quarantine, elimination, or acupuncture has left its mark on the present-day physical environment. While each succeeded in eliminating the disease on some level, great social and physical fallout often accompanied these sweeping environmental alterations. Even more unexpectedly, some movements inadvertently incubated future epidemics. From the Industrial Revolution to today, this book illuminates the state of our own present-day relationship to wellness and the environment through a joint narrative of the shifting grounds of illness and the urban landscape.

Sara Jensen Carr is an assistant professor of architecture and the program director for the Master of Design in Sustainable Urban Environments at Northeastern University. She is a licensed architect and holds an MArch from Tulane University, and an MLA and PhD in Environmental Planning from University of California, Berkeley. Her work and research on the connections between urban landscape, human health, and social equity has been recognized by the Mellon Foundation and San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, among others. In addition, she has been published in publications as varied as Preventive Medicine to LA+ Journal. In 2019, she was named the inaugural Oregon/Places Prize winner, under which she is developing research on watershed urbanism in Honolulu. Her forthcoming book, The Topography of Wellness, will be published by the University of Virginia Press in 2020.