In this text, urban observer, Grady Clay, travels across the grain - from the heart of the city ( The Center ) to the end of the metropolitan area ( The Front ) and then out to the country ( Out There ). By exploring generic man-made sites , he discovers the key to understanding the cultural geography of the United States. Although they can't be found by name on most maps, these places exist in every American city and do similar work whether in Portland or Philadelphia. Defined by cultural, political and economic needs rather than any natural boundary, places like Fall Color Country, The Good Address, and Disaster Area are primarily creations of the human mind. These are just some of the places, among hundreds of others, that Clay takes us through in this original guidebook to America's ever-changing man-made landscape.