Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

CQQ-No.018: Urban Disasters



Cities have never been the favored offspring of Mother Nature. Let’s face it, one doesn’t even have to be a tree-hugging eco-warrior to admit that cities have been tough on their environments. The dark side of the relationship has cities damming rivers, felling forests, moving mountains, fouling air basins, and crudding up rivers, oceans and land fills in order to accommodate their steroid-pumped growth and feed the wanton and wasteful consumption habits of their ecologically-insensitive inhabitants.

OK, maybe that’s a little strident; cities have done a good thing or two for nature and humankind along the way. And cities have had less time to practice getting things right, bound as they are to historical rather that geological time.

Still, one wonders whether cities might have pushed Mother Nature a bit too far when those occasions arise in which she appears to employ her impressive powers to show them just who is boss. For cities, the results are often, as we say, disastrous. When nature mobilizes earth, water, fire, and an arsenal of organisms cities can be temporarily chastised or laid low for good.

Below are a score of cities and the dates of disasters that they endured or succumbed to. In the space provided enter the initials for the type of disaster that occurred: EQ (earthquake); VE, (volcanic eruption); FL (flood); SS (snowstorm); FI (fire); HU (hurricane); and, EP (epidemic). Extra credit if you can name the type of plague or epidemic.

City Quotient Quiz

Click to: Take the online quiz.

©2004, ©2015, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 1.1.2004)