Logistical Urbanization

by Conor O’Shea (MDes ’14)

Logistical urbanization historically contextualizes and theorizes processes of urbanization catalyzed by logistics in North America. The thesis defines four major periods of logistical urbanization from the early 20th century to the present day; each defined by a convergence of economic shifts, technological advancements, and spatial changes. Two major trends have emerged since 2000: the interiorization and exteriorization of logistics activities that previously predominantly occurred in the centers of existing major centers of commerce, ones most often located along the coast. A sharp increase in the volume of goods imported by the United States is one major driver of these trends: U.S. waterborne foreign containerized trade increased from 15 to 29 million TEUs between 1997 and 2007.(1) Logistical urbanization theorizes the interiorization and exteriorization of logistics towards mega inland ports and higher capacity offshore intermediate transshipment hubs as catalysts of distinct urbanization processes. Alliance, Texas; CenterPoint Joliet, Illinois; and Kingston, Jamaica are used as case studies.

(1) United States Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. America’s Container Ports: Linking Markets at Home and Abroad. 2011. 17.