My research focuses on transportation development, and particular railroads and street railways in Chicago, Illinois from 1860 to 1910, in order to explore how this particular infrastructure investment has shaped the city’s urban form. The research takes a human ecology perspective in the examination of transportation and citybuilding processes in Chicago. From the time the first railroad was constructed in Chicago in 1848, and the first street railway implemented in 1859, until the turn of the twentieth century, the city had created the largest rail network in the world, as it became a major industrial center and one of the largest cities in the United States.
The general hypothesis of this research project is that corporate investments in transportation and private real estate interests have shaped the city’s development, rather than the free market forces, which Chicago elites were proud to claim as critical in the city’s 19th century growth and success. This research is inherently qualitative, and encompasses social, political, and economic issues of urban growth.