This book examines the connection between Chicago's sensory environment—the sights, sound and noise, scent and odor, tastes, and haptic sensations people associated with the city—and its civic health. It explores how members of the urban middle classes used their five senses as barometers of civic health and social distinction. It shows that Chicago's sensory landscape constituted more than mere “background” to urban life; the sensations that people encountered on city streets, workplaces, and leisure spots helped them think through the perils and prospects of the city's growth and the metropolitan age more generally. The book uses the term “civic health” to analyze positive sensory experiences—for instance, a day at Chicago's White City amusement park. It also considers entrepreneurs' argument that rejuvenating the senses promised to enhance the city's civic health as much as regulation.
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