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Profiting from the Peak

Landscape and Liberty in Colorado Springs

by John Harner

Paperback Price $34.95
Ebook Price $27.95
30-day ebook rental price $14.00

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2021 AAG John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize

“A significant contribution to historical geographies of American places, the conclusions add an important element to our understanding of real places, Colorado, American cities, and the American West. The book is excellent.”
—Rex J. Rowley, Illinois State University

“A nicely compiled and highly enjoyable history of the Colorado Springs region.”
The Denver Westerns Roundup 

“Harner expertly describes how Colorado Springs’ history shaped its landscape and culture and answers the question of what makes this place unique. . . . A beautifully written, well-researched, and welcome addition to the literature on sense of place as well as urban history and the history of the American West.”
Kansas History

“Harner proves to be an adept storyteller and polymath, bringing together multiple traditions in geography—including historical geography, landscape studies, urban theory, GIScience, and humanism—to foster a truly rich understanding of Colorado Springs.”
The AAG Review of Books, David Havlick, University of Colorado

“An important contribution to the literature interrogating the history of cities in the American West.”
The AAG Review of Books, Steven M. Radil, U.S. Air Force Academy

“Expertly told and highly readable story about people, place, and environment woven together as a deep meditation on the concept of place identity.”
The AAG Review of Books, Yolonda Youngs, California State University San Bernardino

“Testimony to Harner’s sustained commitment to place and region, a level of vigilance that few can muster.”
The AAG Review of Books, Kevin McHugh, Arizona State University

 “Harner’s excellent study will no doubt become a benchmark in the historiography of [Colorado Springs] and of Colorado as well.”
Journal of Cultural Geography 

“A highly detailed geographic and political portrait of Colorado Springs. . . . Recommended.”

"Colorado Springs profited from Pikes Peak and this reviewer has profited from Profiting from the Peak."
—Pacific Historical Quarterly

Colorado Springs, Colorado, has long profited from Pikes Peak and built an urban infrastructure to sustain that relationship. In Profiting from the Peak, geographer John Harner surveys the events and socioeconomic conditions that formed the city, analyzing the built landscape to offer insight into the origins of its urban forms and spatial layout, focusing particularly on historic downtown architecture and public spaces. He examines the cultural values that have come to define the city, showing how military and other institutions, tourism, political and economic conditions, cultural movements, key individual actors, and administrative policies have created a singular urban personality.

Capital accumulation has been a defining theme of Colorado Springs from its very beginning, with enormous profits generated from regional industrialization, railroads, land sales, water appropriation, and extraction of coal and gold. These conditions and its setting in the Rocky Mountain West formed a libertarian-oriented, limited governance philosophy.

This persistent prioritization of liberty at the heart of Colorado Springs’s identity, specifically the freedom to conduct business and generate profits in a relatively unconstrained setting, has directed the urban sprawl of the built landscape and molded the region’s political culture. Profiting from the Peak will be of interest to historical and urban geographers, historians of Colorado and the American West, and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the cultural identity of Colorado Springs.

UCCS Communique

John Harner is professor of geography at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.  He collaborated on a digital geo-humanities project with the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum that brings the city’s historical landscapes to the public ( He was a Fulbright scholar and visiting professor at the Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2005, and he received the University of Colorado Thomas Jefferson Award in 2018.

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  • Paperback Price: $34.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-64642-307-1
  • Ebook Price: $27.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $14.00
  • EISBN: 978-1-64642-168-8
  • Publication Month: July
  • Publication Year: 2021
  • Pages: 338
  • Illustrations: 130
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by John Harner
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-64642-167-1
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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