Student Assignment: Cultural Landscape Field Study

(Adapted from a similar project for college students by Dave Lanegran, Macalester College)


Cultural geographers study regions to determine the human imprint on the physical landscape. By observing elements of the material culture in a neighborhood, geographers get a sense of the nonmaterial culture of a region. They use this information to determine the cultural landscape of a region, how it has changed (sequent occupance), and what conflicts might occur.

What Do I Do?

  • Take a trip to a nearby suburb listed below. Observe the material culture in the neighborhood: housing types, religious buildings, shops, signs, schools, community organizations, local papers, restaurants (ethnic food), monuments, and statues. Use these and other elements to identify the culture of the area. Who has settled there? How has the area changed?

  • Photographs are an essential part of this project. You must include 10 to 15 pictures that you feel represent the culture of the area.

  • Go to the Census Bureau and print out the actual demographic information for the suburb for the year 2000. I'll make sure you have the link.

  • In your appendix, you will need to include a brief history of the suburb and a discussion of who settled there. Most suburbs have a Web site that contains this information.

  • Finally, you'll need to consult a phone book. At the minimum, you will need to make a copy of all the religious institutions in the suburb. You may also find other information that will support your thesis.

What Do I Turn In?

You will use the photographs, census information, history, and the phone book to complete a written report (2 to 3 pages) describing and explaining your findings concerning the cultural landscape of your study area. Photographs are to be included in an appendix along with the census data, history, and religious institutions. Remember, each photo must have a caption explaining the nature of the picture.


-Highwood -Highland Park -Wheeling
-Rolling Meadows -Palatine -Mount Prospect
-Lake Forest -Barrington -North Chicago
-Antioch -Waukegan -Grayslake

For those who are going the distance, here are some further communities:

-Park Ridge -Northlake -Oak Park
-Cicero -Addison -Homewood


Your parents must approve of your participation in this project.

The Study