• The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape
    Sara Jensen Carr
    University of Virginia Press, 2021
    Sara Jensen Carr

Sara Jensen Carr, illustration, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

The Topography of Wellness is a chronological narrative of how six epidemics transformed the American urban landscape, reflecting changing views of the power of design, pathology of disease, and the epidemiology of the environment. From the infectious diseases of cholera and tuberculosis, to so-called “social diseases” of idleness and crime, to the more complicated origins of today’s chronic diseases, each illness and its associated combat strategies of quarantine, elimination, or acupuncture has left its mark on the present-day physical environment. While each succeeded in eliminating the disease on some level, great social and physical fallout often accompanied these sweeping environmental alterations. Even more unexpectedly, some movements inadvertently incubated future epidemics. From the Industrial Revolution to today, this book illuminates the state of our own present-day relationship to wellness and the environment through a joint narrative of the shifting grounds of illness and the urban landscape.

Sara Jensen Carr is an assistant professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape and the program director for the Master of Design in Sustainable Urban Environments program at Northeastern University. Her work and research on the connections between urban landscape, human health, and social equity has been funded by the Mellon Foundation, Graham Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. In addition, she has been published in outlets from Preventive Medicine to LA+ Journal, as well as interviewed by the New York Times, CNN, and Foreign Policy, among others, for her expertise on epidemics and urban design. Her forthcoming book, The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Urban Landscape, will be published by the University of Virginia Press in 2021. She is a licensed architect and holds an MArch from Tulane University, and an MLA and PhD in Environmental Planning from University of California, Berkeley.