Edge Operations: Ice Trade

Mapping the Antebellum Coldscape

Building off the economic critiques of Walden, this series traces the regional ice industry and its rail-based network of extraction, storage and glocal consumption, supplementing Thoreau’s acerbic account with commercial records and policy documents.

Extracting Sub-Urban Resource Systems

Despite recent Landscape Urbanist interest in agrarian utopias and dispersed settlement strategies, Walden, or Life in the Woods (Thoreau, 1854), a canonic conservation text, is still often read as an inward-looking, pastoral experiment. This project, Edge Operations or Logistics in the Woods, ‘runs the numbers’ from Walden. Appropriating Thoreau’s peri-urban position, Edge Ops works outward from Walden Pond—from woodlots to fireplaces, adjacent rails to global markets—re-constructing the (domestic) consumption patterns of antebellum Boston for an alternate history of climate control, industrialization, and its (sub)urban resource systems.

‘Natural’ Refrigeration & the Antebellum Coldscape

This series delineates the novel forms of property, climate, and consumption underlying Thoreau’s description of ice harvesting and his survey of the pond in Walden. The following graphics re-trace Thoreau’s ephemeral erasures and situate them – amidst period periodicals and merchant manuals as well as contemporary discourses in history of science, statistics, surveying and post-structural architectural theory. Drawn together,  these sources make visible the antecedent Coldscape – its infrastructural alliances, metabolic relays, and catalytic impact on urban markets and trade triangles.


Meg Studer conducted the research and developed the infographics (above) for talks, articles, and conference presentations. The larger series is under-development. Interactive versions can be seen at www.edge-ops.org. An additional chapter of the edge-ops research is at edge-ops: cords combustion.

  • processing/csv – misc. web scrubbing of hathi trust ocr documents
  • gis – geocoding and quantitative maps
  • excel/ai/psd – phasing/etc. summary graphics and style standards

Climate Constructs & Consumption

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