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Sites Unseen, new ebook on Philadelphia toxic sites

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer article, “Could a toxic site be on your Philly block?”, reports on a new book, Sites Unseen : uncovering hidden hazards in American cities / Scott Frickel and James R Elliott (Russell Sage Foundation, 2018).

Distribution map of HHID sites (Philadelphia Inquirer, from Sites Unseen, available to Penn readers as a JSTOR ebook and in print (although you may need to use BorrowDirect or EZBorrow for a copy!), investigates the industrial history of Philadelphia and three other U.S. cities, to determine what has happened to land on which manufacturing businesses, both large and small, had been located in the past. A brief summary of the book’s main points is provided in a Russell Sage Foundation blog post, “How do cities monitor industrial waste?” (September 25, 2018).

The authors of Sites Unseen use the U.S. EPA Toxic Release Inventory, state environmental agency hazardous sites registers, and historic city business directories as data sources. The book includes an interesting appendix, “A DIY Guide for Finding Sites and Sources to Build a Historically Hidden Industrial Database” (pages 113-124), that provides suggestions for replicating the authors’ Historically Hidden Industrial Database for other U.S. cities.

Sites Unseen appears as the most recent volume in the American Sociological Association’s Rose Series in Sociology, a book series intended to provide accessible books by senior scholars who marshal the best available evidence to address contemporary public issues. The series is published by the Russell Sage Foundation, the principal American foundation devoted exclusively to research in the social sciences. The Penn Libraries holds all Russell Sage Foundation books in print and (whenever possible) as ebooks.


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