Social engineering through spatial engineering: special purpose roads for the safety, health, and well-being of the community in new company town planning

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University of Alabama Libraries

In the early twentieth century, American industrialists enlisted professional planners, architects, landscape architects, and engineers to design state of the art company towns as part of concerted efforts to improve the living conditions of working class employees. With their attractive housing, abundant green space, recreational facilities, and modern schools and civic buildings, these "new" company towns radically departed from the filthy, monotonous, and oppressive environments of earlier industrial villages. According to geographer Andrew Herod, the built environments of "new" company towns reflect the grand designs of their builders. "Company towns are then, an attempt to put "social thought in three dimensions. They are a concrete example of what I am here calling "spatial engineering"--the deliberate manipulation of the landscape--for purposes of social engineering" (Herod 2011, 21). Pursuant to this inquiry, this study examines the history and spatial arrangements of transportation networks and residential sites in "new" company towns through an extensive literature review and two case studies, Bayview and Chickasaw, Alabama. The literature review and two case studies demonstrate the intentional engineering of roadways for the safety, health, and well-being of "new" company town residents.

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