Technology, Cities and Urban Form

This seminar will explore the impacts of a variety of technological innovations on the shape of cities and the character of urban life in America. Subjects covered include urban infrastructure and the public health movement (water, sewer, gas and electric lighting); the spatial impacts of improved means of transit such as the omnibus and streetcar; the mobility revolution triggered by the mass production of motor cars; the highway era and origins of sprawl; the impacts on urban development of building technologies such steel and balloon-frame construction, air conditioning and the elevator; new ways of envisioning cities enabled by the airplane and aerial photography; and the role of successive waves of improved communications technology in abrogating distance and geography, from the telegraph to cellular telephony. The seminar will conclude with an exploration of virtual urbanism and the urban geography of cyberspace.