19th Century Scots and Your Regional Sewer Authority

At the recent Society of American City and Regional Planning History conference I attended in Portland, Maine, outgoing president historian Greg Hise gave a lecture on the declining interest among academics in regions and regional planning.

In a post for Planetizen’s Interchange blog, I suggested that contrary to the views expressed at the conference there actually is a good deal of regional study and planning taking place in the U.S. I argue the reasons regions are not well studied by the academy include the exploding scale of “metropolitan” areas, the organization of records, intellectual preoccupation with the city, and and yes, the waning influence of regionalist thinkers like Lewis Mumford and Patrick Geddes.

A somewhat eccentric figure, Patrick Geddes’ theories about the relationship between cities and their regions was highly influential among early planners. His “valley section,” a version of which appears below, conveys the geographic and economic scope of his theories.

Patrick Geddes Valley Section

However, his work is generally abstruse. Project Gutenberg’s copy of his 1904 text “Civics: as Applied Sociology” and his illustration below offer a taste to the curious.

Patrick Geddes Illustration

Needless to say the profession has gained a much richer perspective by moving beyond such early thinkers, however the insistence on a regional scope has been diluted.

Read more or offer your own thoughts on my Planetizen post: “Whither the Region? Good Question.”

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. Pingback: Ped Shed » A Revolutionary Map of the World

  2. The shy shadow in the
    garden loves the sun in
    silence, Flowers guess the
    secret, and smile, while
    the leaves whisper.

    Rabindranath Tagore

    In the Outlook Arts Cabinet
    Geddes’s Scots college in Montpellier
    South of France
    ….where you can see the original “Valley section” engraved in the wall.

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