Final Landscape Description Assignment

On September 2 I assigned the project below. 

Geography 439 Landscape Observation Activity 

It is time for you to try your hand at landscape observation, description and interpretation. 

Friday, September 2: Observing a Landscape 

We will not meet here on September 2nd.  Instead, you may use that class time to work on an exercise in landscape observation and description.  The exercise is due at the start of class on Wednesday, September 7th.

I will not accept any late or incomplete work. Students may do the field observation alone or in groups.  However, each student must turn in a completed project that does not duplicate the work of anyone else. Follow the instructions below.

1. I recommend that students bring a topographic map of field sites into the field. This is a good site where you can get one:

2. This map might also be helpful: click

3. Go to the corner of Rose Avenue and Santa Clara Avenue. Do not trespass. Also be certain to stay out of the way of farm equipment. I will go there on Friday, 9/2. I will be there at 2:00.

4. Travel west to the end of Santa Clara Avenue observing both sides of the road as you go. What do you see?

5. Find yourself on your topographic map. What does the map show? What do you see? Do they match?

6. At the dead end turn around and travel back to the corner of Rose Avenue and Santa Clara Avenue, observing the landscape on both sides of the road. What do you see that interests you? What do you see that puzzles you?

7. At the corner of Rose Avenue and Santa Clara Avenue observe the four qudrant of land intersected by those avenues for a long time. 

8. Ask and answer the questions identified by Pierce Lewis near the end of his article.

            What does the landscape of each quadrant look like?

            How does it work?

            Who designed it?

  Why? When? What does it tell us about how society works?

9. Consider some of Harts suggestions. What are the three components of each quadrant?  What are the mineral, vegetable and animal features that comprise the landscape of each of the four quadrants? Think about specific human forms does that Hart emphasized.

10. Write a description of that landscape that is based on your answers to Lewis and Harts questions and suggestions. 

11.Include a discussion of how that landscape or some aspect of it demonstrates two of Lewis' axioms and/or corollaries. Be sure to explicitly identify which of Lewis concepts you have chosen to discuss.

12. Identify one question that you might research and answer about the landscapes at the intersection or along Santa Clara Avenue.

13. Edit your work.

14. Hand in a typed, double-spaced description and discussion of that landscape at the start of class on Wednesday, September 7th. I will not accept papers as an email attachment for this assignment.

For this assignment, do not take photographs or draw sketches. We will do some of that soon enough.


Now it's time for you to return to that assignment, not that place, and demonstrate what you have learned this semester. I want you to observe, describe and interpret again. Since the first assignment you've read more articles about landscape interpretation and landscapes. You have read Madison's explanation and interpretation of landscapes near and similar to those around Chico. You have read Gumprecht's description of college towns and considered how Chico fits into to the different types that he mentioned. You have explored local agricultural, residential and commercial landscapes. You have learned some residential architectural styles, some ornamental trees and, will have, explored how a geographer can use archival material to do repeat geography and demonstrate landscape change. You have used Google Earth Street View.



1. About a month ago, I asked you to find five historic photographs of Chico from the library
's online collection. Choose only three of those photos: One of a residential streetscape, one of commercial streetscape, one of a cultural landscape of your own choosing.

2. Go to each location with copies of the old photographs and observe them for a long time. Ask yourself some of those questions identified by Peirce Lewis near the end of his article.

3. Write descriptions of those landscapes that include:

a. explicit references to how they demonstrate some of Lewis' axioms and corollaries, Meinig's ten views, and some of Hart's, Madison's  and Gumprecht's ideas;  

b. references to the architectural styles that are present and what they tell you about the landscapes;

c. identification of the trees that shade and/or ornament the landscapes;

d. answers to the following questions:

What did the landscapes look like in the past according to the Sanborn Maps and historic photos?

Which buildings have remained?  How have they changed? Why?

How do the landscapes in the photos and maps differ from the current landscapes?

4. Do repeat photography on each landscape.

5. Turn everything in on Monday, December 12 by 4:30.

6. And, what is everything?

1. Double-spaced, typed descriptions of landscapes that explicitly refer to concepts explained in assigned readings, information from Sanborn map(s), information from historic photos and information from field observation.

            2. Repeat photo pairs.