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Thread: History of Urban Form class project on public space and streets

  1. #1
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    History of Urban Form class project on public space and streets

    There is so much stuff on here about what school should I go to? and Where can I find a job when I graduate? But I am going to post something a little different. I have projects for one of my undergrad classes for urban planning that is taught by an architecture professor so needless to say his grading is very hard!!

    This project I'm working on now is about the public space specifically a street. We are to map the street over time , map its changes, describe why it changed, discuss the relationship of the street with the city, and include historical conditions that have led to the current shape and size of the street.

    I chose Michigan Ave in Chicago mainly because when I was on the historypin website I was able to find a lot of old photos of the area, and I love Chicago!!

    My specific area of Michigan Blvd Spans from Michigan and Monroe up to Michgan and Wacker.

    I don't have much to go on as of yet. Still researching the area. If anyone has any information they would like to share that would be great! I will also post update threads as I find more information and post my final presentation. Its due Monday Nov 7th

    thanks all!!!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I did a project almost identical to this in a different city. One thing that was helpful was taking GIS maps (or, in the event that there were no GIS maps for a time period, whatever map we could find) of the exact same square mile area to see how the urban form changed over time. We did this for 4 or 5 different points in time. You can find shapefiles and other maps online with a little creative googleing - sorry, I don't remember the websites we used.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Just another random suggestion. Using a figure-ground map can be a great way of showing urban form but they can be a bit time consuming to create (be it by hand or GIS). I'd suggest at least doing one with the current urban form though, then you can point out what has changed over time. You can probably even look at assessor data to figure out when a building was constructed. So at the very least you'll have a timeline of what's on Michigan Avenue now and you'll be able to see if any patterns appear. Like maybe a certain block was developed in the 1970s while the next one down was in the 30s, that would be interesting to see and give you a way to narrow down your research a bit.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Why did you wait to the last minute on this HUGE project?

    My father (an urban historian) and myself (planner/designer) are both native Chicagoans. Michigan Ave is one of the oldest streets in the City dating back way before the Civil War when it was mostly residential. Fortunately you are only showing a 5-block segment (but don't ever procrastinate on a project this size again!!!). Here are a few pointers.

    1. Start after the Great Fire of 1871 (if you can go back even further to the 1850s). There are also some great bird's eye drawings of Chicago looking west from Lake Michigan in the mid-century that will prominently show Michigan Avenue. You don't have time to set up everything in GIS and I would do the mapping on the fly in AutoCAD, Photoshop, Illustrator.
    2. Find historic aerial photography for the project site, but keep the photography carefully cataloged. For those years where is NO photography, you can still do the base map but you would be relying on other resources.
    3. Areas to focus would be the original location of the Lake Michigan shoreline (it was much closer in), Grant Park, railroad yards (there were far more), the Art Institute, damage done by the Great Chicago Fire, the street BEFORE the Michigan Avenue Bridge,1911 widening of Michigan Avenue as a result of the 1909 Burnham Plan, construction of lower Wacker Drive in the 1920s, underground parking garage underneath Grant Park, etc. The northeast corner of Michigan and Randolph (site of the Prudential building) is one of the most visible in the city and has gone tremendous change over the past 150-175 years).
    4. Look for books on Chicago history, historical associations, etc. My father has a TON of resources on Chicago, including this street, but I am going to let you figure that yourself. This project is a very TALL order and I don't think I could even finish this project in 4 days. You need at least a 3-4 weeks at the very least, including research
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
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    Thank you All!

    Thank you all for your reply!!!

    NRSCHMID, I actually didn't wait... he assigned this on Monday... This is our 4th assignment in the class and this is the first time he's actually given us an entire week for the project, needless to say some of my work is less than appealing because of time constraints. But for this project since I did get an entire week I wanted it to look good.

    Here's what I have now after considering all your comments and reply's.

    I have expanded my territory to a much longer length of Michigan Ave. from Lake Shore Blvd all the way down to 63rd where it runs into the railroad.

    I have maps ranging from 1883 - 1946 then of course a current one. on just a plain base map I'm showing the change from residential in the south and as it moves up going into the park space and commercial and office.

    I also have 2 pictures from 1933 of Michigan Ave at Monroe and the other is of Michigan Ave at Washington. I have put these next to current street view images from Google maps to show the change in the city from 1933 till now.

    On the older maps i plan to show how at one point it didn't have the bridge across the river also in the earliest map the fact that the lake was right next to the road and the park didn't exist yet. then a map when it changed.

    That is all I'm doing so far for graphics... we are only allowed 2 pages of text in our power point so I'm going to focus on the dominant objects along michigan ave like grant park and the Wrigley building and the corner of Michigan and Randolph and probably the magnificent mile.

    Stressed... I love undergrad... haha

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    That sounds reasonable given the time constraints and requirements. Good luck.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  7. #7
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    Final...















    So there's that... it did look much better... but my computer crashed... had it backed up on my flash drive which is now corrupted.. haha its been a wonderful weekend...

    and feedback is wonderful

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