Urban Fold

Nancy Pelosi, Symbol of the West

The myth of the American West as a wild, natural place is long gone, says urban studies professor Carl Abbott. The Western U.S. is actually the most urban part of the nation.

"Sarah Palin knows how to hunt wolves. She can skin a moose. She lives way up there on America's last frontier. So, we might think, here's a national candidate who represents the "real" American West, not its Hollywood imitation.

That's a tempting image, but it's flat-out wrong. Nancy Pelosi, fast-talking, hard-edged urbanite from San Francisco, is a much better stand-in for the real American West. So is the sister team of Linda Sanchez and Loretta Sanchez, who represent parts of Los Angeles County and Orange County in the U.S. Congress.

Add to the list Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire, from the busy urban corridor along Puget Sound. And then there's Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a New Yorker happily transplanted to Phoenix.

Many Americans like to imagine the West as a vast land of sagebrush and deserts, mountains and forests, cougars and caribou. Sure, it has plenty of landscapes to match the Western movie image, but almost nobody lives out there in the empty West. For more than a century, the West has been the most urbanized part of the country."

Full Story: The Real West? More Citified All The Time

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