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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

CIR Interpretation Tutorial

Urban Land Use in Virtual Nebraska

Towns are most easily identified by finding patterns that are 'grid-like' in appearance. These are the streets of the communities and the patterns that they create can easily be seen regardless of the size of the town.

Beaver City, NE
Grand Island, NE

These same patterns can sometimes be used to determine where settlement first took place in a town. The picture of Grand Island (on the right) has been labelled to illustrate this point. The roads in the part of Grand Island labelled the "Older Part of Town" lie perpendicular to the railroad right-of-way. This was the orientation that was used to lay down the first streets in town so that they led away from the railroad tracks. After a certain point in Grand Island's development (actual dates vary with town) the streets were laid out so that they were oriented in a north/south or east/west orientation. An example of this is labelled in the Grand Island picture as the "Newer Part of Town". This is consistent with the manner in which streets are laid in towns throughout the U.S.

Sometimes the patterns can be curved. Curving lines that sometimes extend for only short distances are most likely housing developments in a subdivision, though some may be business park development sites.

Examples of housing subdivisions and a golf course.

Another feature that can be seen are golf courses. Wherever there are thin, lines of red that are clustered around each other, there is likely to be a golf course. The thin, red lines are the grass-covered fairways. Slightly darker shades of red, around or very near the fairways, indicates the presence of trees.

Other features that may be observed are parks or school playgrounds. these can be identified as small, square or rectangular red areas occuring within the city limits.