Geographic information systems (GIS) methods and technologies arrive at a time of renewed optimism for the field of urban history. GIS, with its dramatic visualization capacities, promises new insights into the broad question of urban social structures, their connection to wider social change, and the nature of social relations amongst urban residents. The application of GIS to the study of towns and cities has the potential to build on Philip Abrams’ insight into urban places as a social form “in which the essential properties of larger systems of social relations are grossly concentrated and intensified—to the point where residential size, density, and heterogeneity, the formal characteristics of the town, appear to be in themselves constituent properties of a distinct social order.” In this article, we use GIS to test the applicability of concepts associated with large cities to two medium-sized American cities of the mid-nineteenth century, in the process reflecting on the potential and limits of GIS techniques in urban historical settings.
|Number of pages||21|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|