Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast tells the story of oilman Ralph Bramel Lloyd, a small business owner who drove the development of one of America’s largest oil fields. Lloyd invested his petroleum earnings in commercial real estate—much of it centered on automobiles and the fuel they require—in several western cities, notably Portland, Oregon. Putting the history of extractive industry in dialogue with the history of urban development, Michael R. Adamson shows how energy is woven into the fabric of modern life, and how the “energy capital” of Los Angeles exerted far-flung influence in the US West.
A contribution to the relatively understudied history of small businesses in the United States, Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast explores issues of interest to multiple audiences, such as the competition for influence over urban development waged among local growth machines and outside corporate interests; the urban rivalries of a region; the importance of public capital in mobilizing the commercial real estate sector during the Great Depression and World War II; and the relationships among owners, architects, and contractors in the execution of commercial building projects.
Michael Adamson is a Director of Environmental Solutions, FTI Consulting. He works out of the San Francisco office. After receiving his PhD in history in 2000 from UC-Santa Barbara, he worked as an independent consultant for 13 years until he joined FTI Consulting. His independent consulting work included corporate and institutional history, environmental impact analysis, litigation support, and historical preservation. He also taught U.S. history and American foreign relations on an adjunct basis at several Bay Area colleges and universities. His current position involves litigation support exclusively, and focuses on the remediation of sites contaminated by industrial activity.
Adamson has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in books, and two books, A Better Way to Build: The Story of the Pankow Companies (Purdue UP, 2013), which was a product of a sponsored corporate history project, and Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast: Ralph Bramel Lloyd and the Shaping of the Urban West, which is now available from West Virginia University Press.