Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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How Chicago became the country's alley capital

How Chicago became the country's alley capital | Geography Education | Scoop.it
How Chicago became the alley capital of the country and why so much of the rest of the region is conspicuously alley-free.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The alley is a reminder of past visions of how to best lay out a city.  In the 19th century, back when Chicago started booming, the city was laid out in a grid and it quickly became a filthy, stinky, disease-ridden place. "Rear service lanes were essential for collecting trash, delivering coal, and stowing human waste — basically, keeping anything unpleasant away from living quarters."  As we have moved towards curvilinear residential streets and more discrete public utilities, the newer neighborhoods abandoned the alley, but they are still very prominent in old neighborhoods (click here for an interactive map to explore all of Chicago's alleys). 

Also, Chicago's suburbs have lofty names (Mount, Heights, Ridge, etc.)  that don't match this flat topography--read here to find out why.  


Tags: Chicago, urban, placetoponyms, planning, urbanism.

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99 Percent Invisible

Roman Mars is obsessed with flags — and after you watch this talk, you might be, too. These ubiquitous symbols of civic pride are often designed, well, pretty terribly. But they don't have to be. In this surprising and hilarious talk about vexillology — the study of flags — Mars reveals the five basic principles of flag design and shows why he believes they can be applied to just about anything.
Seth Dixon's insight:

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love flags; I enjoy thinking about the cultural, economic and geopolitical symbolism embedded in the flags and what that means for the places they represent.  I share the above video for that purpose, but more importantly because it is an introduction to the audio podcast 99 Percent Invisible with a special ‘behind-the-scenes’ peek and how this podcast on flag design was made (and here is a snarky critique of all U.S. state flags).  Great geography resources rarely fall under the title “Geography” with a capital G.  It takes geographic training to “see the geography” in the world around us.  I’ve recently discovered the 99 Percent Invisible Podcast and while it is not explicitly (or even always) geographic, it is loaded with excellent materials about design and the details of the world around us that often go unnoticed, but deserve greater scrutiny.  For example the episodes on the Port of Dallas as well as reversing of the Chicago River show how the physical and human systems intersect within urban areas.  These two geo-engineering projects also were conceived on in very particular social, economic and technological contexts.

I also loved the episode Monumental Dilemma, about the uncomfortable 1800s New England memorialization of Hannah Duston for scalping Native Americans…this is incredibly awkward culturally as our society and social values have changes over the years.  Do we tear it down? Ignore it?  Apologize?  Since the historical legacy is unsettled, so is the monument.  So I’ll keep listening to the 99 Percent Invisible podcast and please recommend some especially geographic past episodes as I dig through the archives.                

 

Tagspodcast, architecture, TED.

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1940s Urbanism

"This is a film by the Chicago Board Of Education, produced sometime in the 1940s. This film could have been geared towards tourism or to entice companies to come to Chicago or used in the classroom.  The great thing about this film reel, is all the different views of the city they give."


Tags: Chicago, urban, place, landscape,  video, urbanism.

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Lora Tortolani's curator insight, February 2, 2015 7:04 PM

I love Chicago!  Such a beautiful and clean city.

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The Dozen Regional Powerhouses Driving the U.S. Economy

The Dozen Regional Powerhouses Driving the U.S. Economy | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Boston-Washington corridor, home to 18 percent of Americans, produces more economic activity than Germany.
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Mark Hathaway's curator insight, September 15, 2015 8:54 AM

The United States is home to a number of different so called Mega Regions. We live in the Boston to Washington corridor which is commonly known as the megalopolis. The statistics  from this region are just astounding to behold.  18 percent of the nations population lives in this corridor. That percent is roughly 56.5 million people. The total economic output of the region is an astounding 3.75 trillion. If it were a country, it would be the fourth largest economy in the world.  

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Chicago on the Eve of the Great Fire

Chicago on the Eve of the Great Fire | Geography Education | Scoop.it
This 1868 pocket map of Chicago shows the city in full-blown expansion, a mere 3 years before the infamous blaze
Seth Dixon's insight:

This interactive map with a 'spyglass' feature.  Chicago is displaced during a economic boom period as the U.S. was expanding westward.  Where where the railroads located then?  Why have some of them vanished today?  Notice anything curious about the coastline along Lake Michigan?  Follow this link to see similar interactives of other major U.S. cities.


Tags: Chicago, historical

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Nathan Chasse's curator insight, January 25, 2014 11:07 AM

An interesting map which shows the difference between present day Chicago and 1868 Chicago. It illustrates what a dramatic transformation the city has undergone in the last 150 years. The trains and their tracks, which were such an important part of 1800's travel and logistics, were all removed and replaced with roads for automobiles. Lake Michigan was filled in approximately 1000 feet to expand the city to the east. Where Soldier Field now sits, was once roughly 150 feet into Lake Michigan. To the west, the 1868 map shows large squares of undeveloped city which is today subdivided into entire neighborhoods. Yet, while there are a lot of differences, it's surprising how much is still the same. Much of the developed part of 1868 Chicago has the same layout as today. The buildings may have changed, but the locations of buildings and streets are the same as they were then, a likely product of inertia since it would take more effort to restructure the city than renovate it.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, January 29, 2014 3:09 PM

This map is cool.  It lets you compare the old map to the new map by moving a lens around the satellite map.  It is a great interactive tool to compare old and new and allows the viewer to see how much the geography of the city has changed in the last 150 years or so.

A. Perry Homes's curator insight, July 24, 2014 10:09 PM

This map is truly revealing of how far Chicago has progressed!

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St Patrick's Day celebrated around the world – in pictures

St Patrick's Day celebrated around the world – in pictures | Geography Education | Scoop.it
From Moscow to New York via Vilnius and the pyramids of Egypt, St Patrick's Day is celebrated with parades and a lot of green face paint
Seth Dixon's insight:

Being in Chicago on Saint Patrick's Day one year was the highlight of my trip.  Seeing the river green was truly an impressive sight and the pictures don't quite do it justice.  Today, 34.5 million US residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2011, more than 7 times population of Ireland.

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Pedro Arocha Silva's comment, March 18, 2013 10:55 PM
Nice Chicago pic :D
Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 9, 2015 10:35 AM

St Patrick's day has become a truly worldwide holiday. It seems that everyone wants to be Irish. In the United States the nations Irish community has made this celebration a key day on the calendar in the United States. St Patrick's day celebrations have become an integral part of American life and culture. I often wonder, what people in Ireland actually think of our American St Patrick's day. Do they commercialize the holiday to the same degree that we do? At any rate, the holiday continues to grow in popularity.  I see that as a positive for the entire Irish community.

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Chicago Under Fire

Chicago Under Fire | Geography Education | Scoop.it
"An examination of shootings and violence in Chicago. Includes interactive map of Chicago shootings and homicides."
Tags: Chicago, socioeconomic.
Seth Dixon's insight:

I know that many are thinking about mental illness and gun violence after the tragic incident in Connecticut.  I do not wish to use this as a platform to suggest any particular political course of action.  I do think, however, that this is an appropriate time to share more data that may help others to frame the discussion. 


Tags: Chicago, socioeconomic.

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Liam Michelsohn's curator insight, December 11, 2013 12:33 PM

While I realize this post was from awhile  ago, i thouhgt it was a great representaion of how ceritan issues created by densly populated urban areas. The Shootings that occure in chicago seems to be a result of densly populated, poor urban areas in the city. Kayne west say in one of his songs,last year 314 soilders died in iraq, but 509 died in chicago. While this may not put it into perspective exacitly,  we know that war deaths, and these massicure shootings are horrible events that occure in socioty. It seems people tend to overlook what happens every day on city streets in almost any major poor urban area.

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100 Cities and Their Nicknames

100 Cities and Their Nicknames | Geography Education | Scoop.it
I like nicknames, they define us better than our names, they are clever and funny and they tell so much about our personality and sometimes, about our aspect, although this might be the worst case.

This is a good list...what does a nickname tell us about the city?

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Rich Schultz's curator insight, January 9, 2015 2:16 PM

What's your favorite?

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What Did Chicago Look Like Before the Great Fire?

What Did Chicago Look Like Before the Great Fire? | Geography Education | Scoop.it
This 1868 pocket map of Chicago shows the city in full-blown expansion, a mere 3 years before the infamous blaze
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is an ESRI interactive web app that uses the 'spyglass' feature.  Chicago is displaced during a economic boom period as the U.S. was expanding westward.  Where where the railroads located then?  Why have some of them vanished today?  Notice anything curious about the coastline along Lake Michigan?  Follow this link to see similar interactives of other major U.S. cities.


Tags: Chicago, historical

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What’s in a Nickname? In the case of Chiraq, a Whole Lot

What’s in a Nickname? In the case of Chiraq, a Whole Lot | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Nicknames are important branding strategies used by civic boosters, and Chicago’s namesakes are frequently employed to market the city and its surrounding region as 'The Jewel of the Midwest' and 'Heart of America.' At the same time, urban monikers can arise from the wider public and they have sometimes been used to draw attention to negative qualities of Chicago life."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Is it Londonderry or just Derry?  Xinjiang or Eastern Turkestan?  The Sea of Japan or the East Sea?  Persian Gulf or Arabian Gulf?  Names and nicknames have political and cultural overtones that can be very important.  As the author of this AAG article on the Chicago's nickname, Chiraq says, "city nicknames are more than a gimmick; they can define geographies of violence, marginalization, and resistance."


Tags: Chicago, urban, place, language, toponyms.

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Norka McAlister's curator insight, March 15, 2015 8:07 PM

Illinois has been stigmatized by many negative nicknames such as "Killinois," "Shot-town," and "Chiraq." Urban crime hs always been a problem in the city of Chicago, and the most remarkable areas are on the south side of Chicago. High unemployment, poor neighborhoods, and lack of parenting/mentoring, and failing school districts all contribute to the number of young people turning to steet crime in order for survival. With so many gangs acitivities on the street, Chiraq is a city of violence and war. Chaos on the street and the killings of many innocent people increasing, government  officials needs to react with strict regulations in order to stop this violence. Poor economic status has played a significant role in the deterioration of the city. Citizen who were once classified as middle have become a part of the poor class. The relocation of housing projects in proximity to wealthier communities has instilled fear of the expansion of gang violence and activity within residents of these communities.

Lauren Quincy's curator insight, March 19, 2015 12:53 PM

Unit 3: Cultural Practices and Processes

 

This article is about how Chicago's many nicknames represent its culture and people's sense of the place. Many people have began to call Chicago by the name of "Chiraaq" and mixture of Iraq and Chicago. This is due to the violences in the city and resemblence to the action in Iraq. The nickname’s power, politically, is the way in which naming functions as a form of shaming and the name has been advertised on shirts, posters and even songs putting it into the category of pop-culture. As suggested in research, place names are not confined to official nomenclature on maps, but also include competing, vernacular systems of naming. Chicago’s many nicknames provide insight into the different ways that people frame and reconfigure the image of the city for the wider world.


This relates to unit 3 because it deals with vernacular regions and popular culture. The different names of Chicago are often not defined with a definite boundary of the city, rather an individuals opinion or idea of the area. They are often very vague with the names such as "Paris on the Prairie" that not only include Chicago but neighboring towns and cities as well. Or the opposite, where the name "Sweet Home" may only be referring to a portion of the city rather than the entire city of Chicago. The names, such as Chiraq, also fall under pop-culture when they become a widely known idea and are adopted by many sources. The advertisement and use of the nickname in songs and merchandise shows the wide range of distribution for the nickname. The use of the word is often changing and will be popular for a short period of time as popular culture is always changing. 

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Cityscapes of Chicago

Cityscape Chicago II is a personal timelapse piece that I have worked on periodically over the past two years. The inspiration behind the project ties similarly with the original piece. As the city of Chicago continues to change, my fascination with it grows as well. The goal for me is always to capture the city in a unique way from new perspectives, and to continue exploring it.


Tags: Chicago, urban, place, landscape,  video.

Seth Dixon's insight:

A little closer to my home and workplace, here is a similar video about Providence, Rhode Island.

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These Interactive Maps Compare 19th Century American Cities to Today

These Interactive Maps Compare 19th Century American Cities to Today | Geography Education | Scoop.it

" The Smithsonian Magazine recently dipped into David Rumsey's collection of over 150,000 maps to find some of the best representations of American cities over the past couple hundred years. With some simple programming, they were able to overlay images of vintage maps of some major cities onto satellite images from today. The results are fascinating."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The 'spyglass' feature gives thesse gorgeous vintage maps a modern facelift. The cities that are in this set of interactive maps are: 



Tags: cartography, mapping, visualization, urban, historical.

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Sid McIntyre-DeLaMelena's curator insight, May 29, 2014 11:56 AM

The Smithsonian Magazine overlayed maps of American cities for the past centuries with modern satellite images to show differences in the development and planning and the growth of the cities.

The growth and change of the cities changed over the years on how it was achieved and how far it could be expanded due to new technology and movement of people to urban areas. The technology helped achieved a certain hold over the environment to build more urban spaces. 

Rich Schultz's curator insight, January 9, 2015 2:15 PM

Fantastic collection!

Vincent Lahondère's curator insight, January 6, 5:02 PM

Entre art et géographie...

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How Chicago’s Housing Crisis Ignited a New Form of Activism

How Chicago’s Housing Crisis Ignited a New Form of Activism | Geography Education | Scoop.it
An innovative campaign to move “home-less people into people-less homes.”
Seth Dixon's insight:

Chicago's poorer neighborhoods have experienced a severe decline as homes are being foreclosed at an alarming rate (62,000 vacant properties in Chicago and 40% of the homes underwater on the South and West Sides).  When sections of a neighborhood are left vacant or in disrepair, it can have a lead to negative impacts on the community.  To combat both the homelessness issue and the vacant home problem at the same time, "Cook County now plans to form what will become the nation’s largest land bank, an entity that will acquire thousands of vacant residences, demolishing some, turning others into much-needed rentals and holding onto others until they can be released, strategically, back into the market."   


Tags: Chicagohousing, urban, economic, povertyplace, socioeconomic, neighborhood.

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fabio sousa's comment, June 3, 2013 9:00 AM
coisa mais linda :)
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The Struggle for Jihad

The Struggle for Jihad | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Two opposing groups battle to define the word jihad on public buses and subways.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This New York Times video highlights two current media campaigns that are in their own struggle to shape the meaning(s) of the word jihad for the American public.  While the definition of "Holy War" is often quoted, it also means a struggle.  When you hear the word jihad, who's jihad do you think of first?  The cultural context within which a word is used might not be the same context in which the message is received and interpreted.  This disconnect can be a part of cultural conflicts and misunderstandings.   

 

Tags: Islam, perspective, religion, culture, USA.

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Kimberly Hordern's comment, April 30, 2013 8:07 AM
It is sad that these people are feeling the negative connotations of people who commit crimes under their own definition of the word jihad. When in actuality the word means to Islamic followers a personal struggle.
Conor McCloskey's comment, April 30, 2013 10:27 AM
Islamic cultural has been isolated and generalized in American society after September 11th, 2001. Because of this, the Islamic religion is often misunderstood or misrepresented. There are extremist factions of every religion, even Christian, though sometimes our culture forgets that. This video is about a Muslim organization that is trying to take back the definition of “jihad” in American society. Since 9/11, the world has been synonymous with violence, though many Muslims do not believe their struggle for a better life with God is a violent struggle.
Cultures are multilayer. While some Muslim’s believe jihad is a holy war, others see it as a personal struggle. American culture has a lot to learn about the Muslim cultures through out the world, including the differences between the extremist and non-extremist factions. Extremist factions tend to get the most press coverage and attention from outsiders because they are by name extreme. It would be interesting to see how this relationship with jihad would differ if September 11th never happened.
Zakary Pereira's comment, April 30, 2013 4:31 PM
Before seeing this video I had always thought of a Jihad as a religious war started by radical Muslims. After watching I felt bad personally that I had confused this word with something that many people hold as just a goal or a personal struggle for them. I do not know if it is because post-9/11 there was much anti-Islam and anti-muslim sentiment in the US (still are today) and that the word became a radical term in the United States, I don’t know. I agree with Conor and saying that the reason many people know Jihad as a religious war is because of the media attention that radical Islamists receive when they bomb/hurt/kill and that is hurting the image of Muslims and Jihad in America.
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Concentric Zones of Building Age in Chicago

Concentric Zones of Building Age in Chicago | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Many of the original and innovative contributions to the field of urban sociology came out of the University of Chicago in the early 20th Century. Influenced by the natural sciences, in particular evolutionary biology, members of the Chicago School forwarded an ecological approach to sociology emphasizing the interaction between human behavior, social structures and the built environment. In their view, competition over scarce resources, particularly land, led to the spatial differentiation of urban areas into zones of similar use and similar social groups.

Two of the major proponents of urban ecology were Ernest Burgess and Robert E. Park, professors at the University of Chicago, who together in 1925 published a book entitled The City." 

 

Many students struggle with models when there isn't a corresponding example.  The Concentric Zone Model and Chicago are a great marriage. 

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Rich Schultz's curator insight, January 9, 2015 2:15 PM

Where it all began...