Seattle would not exist without animals. Animals have played a vital role in shaping the city from its founding amid existing indigenous towns in the mid-nineteenth century to the livestock-friendly town of the late nineteenth century to the pet-friendly, livestock-averse modern city.
When newcomers first arrived in the 1850s, they hastened to assemble the familiar cohort of cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, and other animals that defined European agriculture. This, in turn, contributed to the dispossession of the Native residents of the area. However, just as these animals were used to create a Euro-American city, the elimination of these same animals from Seattle was key to the creation of the new middle-class neighborhoods of the twentieth century. As dogs and cats came to symbolize home and family, Seattleites' relationship with livestock became distant and exploitative, demonstrating the deep social contradictions that characterize the modern American metropolis.
Throughout Seattle's history, people have sorted animals into categories and into places as a way of asserting power over animals, other people, and property. In The City Is More Than Human, Frederick Brown explores the dynamic, troubled relationship humans have with animals. In so doing he challenges us to acknowledge the role of animals of all sorts in the making and remaking of cities.
Frederick L. Brown holds a PhD in history from the University of Washington and works on a contract basis as a historian for the National Park Service.
"Nothing short of pathbreaking. Brown organizes this potentially overwhelming topic into a highly influential study with remarkable grace and concision."
– Thomas Andrews, author of Coyote Valley: Deep History in the High Rockies
"Frederick Brown's wonderful history of Seattle brings the city's story into conversation with the growing field of animal studies, illustrating the ways in which nonhuman animals of many kinds have been at the center of Seattle's history – often in ways we might find surprising today. Learning about these animal lives can tell us not only how cattle, dogs, and salmon experienced this place, but also how talking about what it means to be an urban animal offers important insights into what it means to be human."
– Coll Thrush, author of Indigenous London: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire and Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place
"What is the place of animals in the American city? The answers, as Frederick Brown argues in this inventive book, say as much about being human as they do about the many creatures prowling our streets and sharing our homes. Corralling cows, killing cougars, loving dogs and eating salmon were more than asserting an illusory control over nature. Instead, Brown concludes, such interactions redefined which creatures, human and animal, were allowed to claim Seattle as their own. The City Is More Than Human is an ambitious and important retelling of America's urban past."
– Matthew Klingle, author of Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle