First Advisor

Joe Poracsky

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Electric railroads -- Cars, Urban land use -- Oregon -- Portland, Transportation -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (141 p.)


American urban neighborhoods are a patchwork; the spatial arrangement of types is a reflection of the dominant transportation technology at the time of their development. The earliest suburban areas were made accessible by fixed route systems such as the electric streetcar, followed by the widespread adoption of the automobile; each transportation epoch resulted in characteristic patterns of land use. This study uses aerial photographic coverage of Portland, Oregon from the years 1925, 1936, and 1945, a time of decline for the once popular trolley lines and dramatic increase in automobile usage, to monitor change within the residential areas of Portland's east side over a twenty year period.

Classic economic models of the time acknowledged transportation as a force shaping the city; modem ideas in urban planning such as Traditional Neighborhood Design and Transit Oriented Development look to pre-automobile urban form as a means to reduce automobile use and its negative implications. This study uses variables of housing density and street connectivity derived from the aerial photography; the measured values of these variables are then considered for their spatial and temporal distribution using statistical comparisons. The results are compared to ideas within the urban models and current thinking about urban morphology. While generally consistent with the expected patterns, deviations and differences between the two variables are considered for their implications.

Models offer a simplified version of the growth of American cities, considering only a few of the many aspects of a dynamic environment. By isolating on these variables of density and connectivity, a greater understanding of their role in arriving at the modem residential urban environment may be reached, and this understanding can add to the discourse in current planning debates.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier