Delimiting the perceived downtown: A perceptual approach

Richard F Brown, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation expands the literature on downtown delimitation by demonstrating the utility of using oral boundary descriptions to elicit perceived downtown boundaries (the Oral Method). This dissertation also presents, for the first time, the Oblique Aerial Photo Method, a practical method to elicit perceived downtown boundaries by providing respondents with a street map on a clear sheet over an oblique aerial photo. The Oblique Aerial Photo Method provides information that ties landmarks and street names to each other. This dissertation develops a practical method of presenting downtown boundary perception as an indication of a group's degree of agreement along each portion of the boundary, rather than as a single line that conveys implicit information which is often erroneous. Finally, this dissertation shows that it is not possible to delimit the downtown as an entity. Rather, at a given point in time, it is possible to delimit the perceived downtown. Tacoma, Washington, was used to determine if the Oral Method and the Oblique Aerial Photo Method reflect the perceived downtown boundary. Tacoma was also used to compare these methods to each other and to boundaries determined using other methods. The Oblique Aerial Photo Method did not provide significantly different results from those obtained using the Oral Method when applied to Tacoma. The Oblique Aerial Photo Method's value is that it supports the reliability of the Oral Method, which is much easier to administer.

Subject Area

Geography|Urban planning|Area planning & development

Recommended Citation

Brown, Richard F, "Delimiting the perceived downtown: A perceptual approach" (1991). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9200319.