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Understanding the City of Montgomery, AL.

Zone Map of Montgomery

In Fall 2012, Jay Mittal’s Urban Economics class undertook a project on “Understanding the City of Montgomery, Alabama.” The project was aimed to develop comprehensive understanding of cities amongst the Community Planning students’ such as why do cities exist and how they function, how location choices of homes and businesses are made, and what are the causes of spatial patterns and role of various market forces and public policies in the development of cities. The City of Motgomery, AL was chosen as a laboratory case and the City and its staff provided support for the project.  This project was completed as a group exercise and the outcome was a research paper /report with maps, illustrations and tabular data. 

This project was dealt at two geographical scales: at the neighborhood scale and at the city / metropolitan level scale.  The city of Montgomery’s city council district boundaries were used for neighborhood level analysis.  At this scale, a detailed investigation was conducted to understand the distinctive characteristics of neighborhoods for each of the nine city council districts in the city.  Later, these neighborhood level project findings were combined to analyze data at the city level.  The project documented current conditions of all the nine city council districts from demographic, social, land use andeconomic perspective. The analysis included population and racial composition, income and educational attainment, employment and housing characteristics, land use and zoning, and the business activities and strategic employment locations students learn to establish potential causes of those locations and cause of spatial growth patterns.  The students will compare spatial growth patterns within and between the neighborhoods and will also record critical events (like development of electric streetcar system, Maxwell Air Force Base, highway investments, establishment of Motor Company) and people (key visionaries) that might have brought critical changes in the urban characteristics, and their spatial organization.