Brooklyn College’s Michael Rawson Receives Abel Wolman Award from American Public Works Association

Kansas City, MO. – Dr. Michael J. Rawson, Assistant Professor of History at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, recently received the American Public Works Association (APWA) Abel Wolman Award at its 2011 International Public Works Congress & Exposition in Denver, Colorado. Established in 1987, the Abel Wolman Award is presented annually by APWA’s Public Works Historical Society to recognize the best new book published in the field of public works history.
Dr. Rawson was selected for the award by a committee of public works professionals and scholars. His award-winning book, titled “Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston” was published by the Harvard University Press in 2010. Rawson’s book focuses on the environmental history of the city of Boston, exploring the relationship between nature and culture. In the book, he details how Bostonians channeled country lakes to provide clean water; dredged the ocean; filled tidal flats; and created a metropolitan system of parks and greenways, facilitating the conversion of fields into suburbs. Much of the class and ethnic history of the city are included in the book, which contributed to the process of urbanization.

Rawson’s areas of expertise include specialization in environmental history, especially in relation to the urban environment, as well as U.S. social and cultural history.  He has won numerous awards and appointments, including “Eden on the Charles,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2011. Rawson completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2005, and spent two years as a Humanities Fellow at Stanford University. His research specialties include urban, environmental and cultural history. He has published a number of articles on the urban environment and has received several national awards. He is a past recipient of the Public Works Historical Society’s Michael Robinson Award, and is a former member of the society’s board of trustees.

On receiving the Abel Wolman Award for 2011, Rawson said, “I am truly honored to be included among some of the most prominent scholars of public works history. I treat public works – such as harbor infrastructure, water and sewer systems, and parks – as key connections between the human and natural worlds that structure how the two interact. When we invented these different kinds of infrastructure in the nineteenth century, we were also inventing new environmental relationships that would come to define what it meant to be ‘urban.’ These environmental relationships continue to support the metropolis today, making it essential that we understand their history.”

For more information about APWA’s Abel Wolman Award, contact APWA Professional Development Program Manager Teresa Hon at:

About APWA
The American Public Works Association ( is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 28,500 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, and has an office in Washington, D.C., along with 63 chapters across North America.