Using Bird's Eye View Maps to Analyze Nineteenth Century Postbellum Urban Development in Western Missouri

Authors: David Fox*, Park University
Topics: Historical Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: urban development, bird's eye view maps, Missouri
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


During the mid-nineteenth century, continuous westward migration and settlement within the United States contributed to rapid urban development across the Central Plains. Within this context, urban rivalries at a variety of geographic scales formed as newly established cities vied for dominance and supremacy within their given regions. Perhaps not coincidentally, the tradition of creating "bird's eye view" perspective panoramic maps of towns and cities blossomed in the postbellum period as civic leaders sought to promote their communities. Among the most prolific of the bird's eye view map artists was Albert Ruger, who began rising in popularity in the mid-1860s with his work in Michigan. This poster seeks to utilize bird's eye maps drawn by Ruger of cities in Western Missouri during the postbellum period. In particular, the perspective maps drawn by Ruger of St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1868 and Kansas City, Missouri, in 1869 are analyzed using geographic information systems (GIS) and various historical methodologies in order to try to gain a better understanding of the level of urban development within each of these cities, which had become the two major competitors in the urban rivalry within the region by the 1860s.

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