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Transport 2050

June 28, 2011

Often a city will find a major part of its national image being a result of its transportation. America is still largely a country defined by the distances it spans, and the transportation systems on which it was built, leading to transportation being one of our most image-able assets. “Transportation remains one of the most important external forces that influence the shape of cities,” Witold Rybczynski says in the final chapter of Makeshift Metropolis.  When visitors come to Manhattan, Kansas, one of their first experiences is and will be with the region and the city’s transportation network.

The cover to the book of my masters thesis project.

Transportation is both the skeletal structure and the circulatory system of a city. It is the foundation upon which all development happens. The history of transportation and its effect on the city is evident in Manhattan’s location. Settled by pioneers traveling by riverboat, the bend in the Kansas River is the farthest they could come, their boat running aground.  Years later, the river valley provided the easiest route over the rolling Flint Hills for the Kansas Pacific and its diminutive little locomotives on their way to Denver.  Prosperity came as the town became home to a land grant school and a transcontinental transportation link. Eventually, the automobile allowed the city to expand beyond its flat location in the valley, spreading across the hills to the northwest.

Currently, Manhattan’s transportation options are centered on the tyranny of the automobile; its development options are based on the suburban result. But Manhattan used to have a choice. Like many small Midwestern towns, it had a streetcar system that provided clean, affordable, easily accessible transportation.

Today, many may see Manhattan as too small to support a successful streetcar system, but it is possible. Manhattan can once again have a choice, a choice for the better. Streetcars will bring investment and a powerful image for the city to use to market itself regionally. Transportation can once again be the unifying theme of Manhattan.

Transport 2050 is a project envisioning a rail-based transportation system for the city of Manhattan, linking city planning considerations to the transportation choices available to the citizens. The result is a greener, denser, more sustainable and resilient community.

–Excerpt from the introduction

My entire masters thesis project, titled Transport 2050, can be viewed in PDF form here: Transport 2050

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