Auburn, New York:
The Entrepreneur’s Frontier
By Scott W. Anderson
$39.95 (plus tax & shipping)
Publishing Information: 2015, Syracuse University Press
Nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, Auburn, New York, is home to some of the key figures in our nation’s history. Both William Seward and Harriet Tubman lived in Auburn, as did Martha Coffin Wright, a pioneering figure in the struggle for women’s suffrage. Auburn’s significance to American life, however, goes beyond its role in political and social movements. The seeds of American development were sown and bore fruit in small urban centers like Auburn. The town’s early and rapid success secured its place as a cornerstone of the North American industrial core.
Anderson chronicles the story of Auburn and its inhabitants, individuals with the skills and ingenuity to nurture and sustain an economy of unprecedented growth. He describes the early settlers who capitalized on the rich geographic advantages of the area: abundant waterpower and access to transportation routes. The entrepreneurs and capital that Auburn attracted built it into a thriving community, one that became a center of invention, manufacturing, and finance in the mid-nineteenth century. Just as high profits and rapid accumulation of wealth allowed the community to prosper and grow, these factors also initiated its downturn. Anderson traces Auburn’s momentous rise and gradual decline, illustrating American capitalism in its rawest form as it played out in small towns across the nation.
Scott W. Anderson is associate professor and chair of the Geography Department at the State University of New York at Cortland.