What 19th-Century Kansas Cow Towns Teach Us About Global Capital

Like Amazon Today, Railroads Determined the Fortunes of Even the Most Distant Communities

Boasting dozens of windows and a hundred-person dining room, the Drovers Cottage was quite a hotel by the standards of the 19th-century American West. Even more impressive: It managed to be the main attraction of two different towns.

Dovers Cottage was originally built in Abilene, Kansas, during a cattle boom in the late 1860s, when Abilene was the first great railhead connecting the cattle ranches of Texas to the emerging national rail network. But Abilene’s fortunes soon turned—when Ellsworth, Kansas, took its place as the new cattle boomtown.

Ellsworth rose to …

More In: Ideas

Why Californians Should Party on the Beach Now | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Californians Should Party on the Beach Now

Before Waters Inundate the Coast, We Need to Embrace the Flood and Plan for the Future

Peace out, Pacifica.

Don’t despair, Del Mar.

Never stress, Newport Beach.

Yes, sea levels are rising. Yes, California’s coastline is eroding and changing. And yes, even with Californians taking action against …

When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’

Postwar Suburban Homes With Big Windows and Patios Sold the Idea of Leisure—and Air Conditioning

Think of postwar America, and what often comes to mind is a white, heterosexual family, pictured in a domestic suburban environment. You can tell this family lives in the …

How Trader Joe’s Exploits a Fading California Fantasy | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Trader Joe’s Exploits a Fading California Fantasy

In the Golden State It’s Getting Harder to Live the Good Life on the Cheap

For years, I’ve told children, newspaper editors, and other credulous people that I’m the Joe of Trader Joe’s. That’s, of course, a lie. But it is true that the store …

The Woolen Shoes That Made Revolutionary-Era Women Feel Patriotic | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Woolen Shoes That Made Revolutionary-Era Women Feel Patriotic

Calamanco Footwear Was Sturdy, Egalitarian, and Made in the USA

If you were a wealthy or middle-class woman living in British America around the time of the Revolution, you probably owned a pair of calamanco shoes. Like sneakers or …

How PG&E Has Unified a Divided California | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How PG&E Has Unified a Divided California

The Utility’s Failures Are Forcing the Golden State to Acknowledge a Crisis in Both Climate and Democracy

Thank you, PG&E.

I felt moved to write this thank-you note because so many of your 16 million California customers have been so ungrateful. No corporation in this state has done …