A comparative study of urban space in Newcastle upon Tyne and Charleston, South Carolina, 1740-1840

Collins, Sarah E. F. (2019) A comparative study of urban space in Newcastle upon Tyne and Charleston, South Carolina, 1740-1840. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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The thesis considered the development of urban space in two mercantile cities in the British Atlantic between 1740 and 1840. A comparative approach was adopted by examining Newcastle upon Tyne, and Charleston in South Carolina. Existing models of eighteenth and early-nineteenth century cities lack research foregrounded in urban spatial analysis. Discussion has been limited to ‘improvement’, or spatial generalisations based on textual descriptions. Such methods have failed to understand the complex and intertwined character of different forms of urban space, or how the relationship of spatial systems impacted city participants.

The thesis undertook an ambitious review of source material in Newcastle and Charleston for spatial content. A historic geographic information system (GIS) was compiled for each city that established mapping-epochs. Cartographic sources supported spatial analysis and ten thousand geospatial records were created using trade directories, rate books, and census data that produced an understanding of change over time. Letters, diaries, travel journals, and newspapers supplemented the spatial analysis to understand human interaction in space alongside physical development and land-use change.

The research identified several findings that have importance for the field moving forward. Firstly, the spatial development of Newcastle and Charleston formed complex adaptive systems in which the various functions of space created inter-connected and complicated relationships. Complexity is a common attribute that has importance in establishing the dynamism present in mercantile communities, but such observations go undetected within focused studies. Secondly, it demonstrated that within two cities normally associated with strong social hierarchy, elites failed to significantly control urban space, which counters top-down models of urban development. Finally, three phases of broadly similar urban change were observed, redefining the analysis of transition, highlighting spatial conflict, and establishing concepts of urban planning. Such findings demonstrated that sources can be combined to create micro-geographies of urban space and experience in case-studies of the pre-modern city.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: urban history, spatial/landscape history, British Atlantic, digital humanities, Geographic Information Systems
Subjects: K400 Planning (Urban, Rural and Regional)
L700 Human and Social Geography
V100 History by period
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2019 09:56
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2022 13:15
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39767

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