Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/593

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A PHILOSOPHY OF GEOGRAPHY

relationship of man to the physical things of the earth is one which can be traced out in the minutest detail, especially, of course, in primitive communities where food is absolutely dependent upon geographic location. The Esquimaux, with no forest or sandy deserts, eat of fish and game. The fruits supply the tropical savage, there where the warm climate supports a variety of vegetable life, so that the native has but to step from his grass hut to find his daily bread. Pastoral peoples have their milk foods, dwelling as they do in the sweeping plains of Australia or Russia which support flocks of sheep and herds of oxen. Moreover wheat, corn, maize, meat, which are all products of the physical earth, of climatic and geographical conditions, go far to shape the man of the temperate zone.

Likewise, compare the leather garments of the shepherd, the fur coat of the Lap, the woolen garment of the Russian, the grass dress of the Australian, and see in them the influence of geography. Or, trace in the adobe hut of the plainsman, the sod homes of the tropical savage, the inglow of the Esquimau, and the skin tents of the nomads, in the carved stone buildings of the cave dweller, in the log hut of the forester, in the cobble house of New York state, a like influence of geography upon the sheltering places of man.

As for occupations, does not one see in the hunting of the African wilderness, the herding on the plains of Patagonia, the agriculture of the river valleys, the mining of the mountains, the lumbering of Canada, the fruit growing of California a relationship with the geographic field? When a community possesses more material than can be utilized by it, peoples begin a trade, thus establishing commercial relations, with the development, on a large scale, of agriculture, manufacturing and other industries. Man would not have made rugs in India, for there was no wool. Nor would he have made gold ornaments in England, for there the gold was absent. The Persians made rugs, for wool was at their door; the Hindoos carved gems, for Indian plateaus were pregnant with them; the Chinese wove costly silks, for in their country the silk worm flourished; the Norsemen built boats, for in their country lumber was cheap. In short, in many places, as raw materials were present, so manufactures grew—porcelain in Japan, rugs in Persia, ships in Norway, pottery in England, steel in Birmingham, smelting at Denver, cement in New Jersey. Power is needed in extensive manufacture, and where power is cheap or easily obtainable there may arise immense industrial centers, as at Birmingham, Pittsburgh and Niagara Falls—where fuel is at a stone's throw away, or where the mighty rush of water furnishes energy, and where it is often comparatively cheap to bring, for manufacture, raw materials produced elsewhere. Often, too, where places are favorably situated along travel lines of least resistance there may grow up populous centers as Buffalo, Saint Louis, London and New York.