The North American Midwest: A Regional Geography

The North American Midwest: A Regional Geography

The North American Midwest: A Regional Geography

The North American Midwest: A Regional Geography

Excerpt

Only within the present century has the significance of the Midwest become apparent, for it is within this time that the continent has completed its political growth, an unparalleled technology has developed, and the whole world order has changed drastically. Two devastating world wars have been fought, two attempts at world political organization have been made, and national unrest is on every hand. The leadership of northwestern European nations with far-flung empires has largely given way to the dominance of the strong continental nations, the focal center of one of which is the Midwest. Not only is it unique as all regions are unique earth areas, it is exceptional in that as a total region this extensive interior land, far distant from both mountains and sea, is a gigantic center of agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation unexcelled or perhaps unequaled anywhere. As such it exerts a dominating influence on the affairs of the nation and indirectly of the world. It is, perhaps, the most important single region in North America and one of great significance in the future of the Western World.

Its significance is due to an unprecedented combination of site factors in a continental situation without equal. It should be obvious that the North American continent without the Midwest would be severely handicapped, and, likewise, the Midwest without the benefit of its continental position would be weak indeed. How pathetic would be a European-style nation of the Midwest!

However, important as the world relations may be, this book is concerned with the internal geographic structure of the Midwest. Based upon a regional concept in which neither fixed size nor definite boundary is an ascribed quality, the Mid- west is considered a total region or compages within a hierarchy of regions of ascending and descending magnitude. Thus it is equated with the South and the Northeast in a regional magnitude of which Eastern North America is composed. In turn, regions of this magnitude form the general pattern of North America whereas the Midwest regions of lesser magnitude compatible with the scope of this presentation are recognized and developed.

The Midwest is definitely a nodal region with a clearly defined structure. It consists of an inner zone of several diverse regions, in one of which is embedded the second largest metropolitan core in the country, surrounded by a periphery of several diverse regions in which lies the indistinctly defined regional boundary. Transportation routes of all types, knotted in secondary regional nodes, focus on the major node which likewise is the focal point of the entire continent. If the metropolitan district at this critical point expands and intensifies to a place of world preeminence, it will be due to more than accident.

Although a concept of total regions is employed, an exhaustive treatment is not attempted. Emphasis is placed upon the dominant qualities of the various human, cultural, and natural environmental associations. If the economic factors seem . . .

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