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Dawn Bakken
Indiana Magazine of History

Last modified: Friday, October 2, 2009

State history journal revisits a classic book on "The Urban Frontier"

Oct. 2, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In its September 2009 issue, the Indiana Magazine of History offers five essays commemorating the 50th anniversary of Richard C. Wade's seminal book in Midwestern and urban history, The Urban Frontier: The Rise of Western Cities, 1790-1830.

Indianapolis Site Selection

A committee selects the site in 1820 for the future of Indianapolis in this illustration.

Four of the five essays reconsider frontier cities studied by Wade. Their authors are Edward K. Muller of the University of Pittsburgh; David S. Stradling of the University of Cincinnati; Carl E. Kramer of Indiana University Southeast, a life-long historian of Louisville; and Adam Arenson of the University of Texas at El Paso, a historian of early St. Louis.

The fifth essay, written by Robert Barrows of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Leigh Darbee of the Indiana Rail Road, adds the nascent city of Indianapolis into the mix. All of the essays offer new perspectives, based on the latest scholarship, on Wade's contention that "towns were the spearheads of the frontier."

The Indiana Magazine of History is published quarterly by the Department of History of Indiana University Bloomington in cooperation with the Indiana Historical Society. The magazine's Web site can be found at For general information on the articles and to order copies of the issue, contact the editorial office at 812-855-4139.