Chestnut Hill College History Professor Co-authors Book Series about Wissahickon Valley

Release Date: Thursday, January 6, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA – David Contosta, Ph.D., history professor at Chestnut Hill College, co-authored the recent book series “Metropolitan Paradise: The Struggle for Nature in the City, Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley, 1620-2020” (St. Joseph’s University Press, 2010). Co-authored with Carol Franklin, a nationally recognized expert on ecological design and restoration, this four volume series, covers the relationship between the natural and urban environments in the Wissahickon Valley. The book also discusses the social, political, and ecological shifts that have shaped the valley over time.

Sacred to the Lenni-Lenape tribes and many early Europeans that settled in the area, the valley has all the components that make up paradise: a dramatic gorge with high cliffs, twisted rocks, dark hemlocks, sparkling water, and beautiful rolling terrain just north of the city’s boundaries. The Wissahickon Valley is the epitome of changing American landscape over the past several hundred years and it suffers from all the troubles that a modern day metropolis brings.

Cities are rapidly expanding, growing more complex and densely populated. There are six billion people in the world and that number is expected to increase to nine billion during the next 50 years. Virtually everyone on the planet will be living in a megalopolis, which brings up the question on how the environment will be affected. The preservation and restoration of the Wissahickon Valley is an example to cities around the world, even though maintaining a balanced ecosystem in a metropolitan area is difficult. “Metropolitan Paradise” is Contosta’s contribution to the restoration of the Wissahickon Valley.

David Contosta, Ph.D., is a renowned author and history professor at Chestnut Hill College. He is the author of 17 books, including biographies of Henry Adams, as well as “Rebel Giants,” a book that explores the surprising parallels between Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. He has written about religion, higher education, orphanages, urban and suburban landscape, urban parks, historic preservation, and a variety of other topics.

For more information, or to schedule an interview with Dr. Contosta, please contact Lisa Mixon at or 215.753.3664.