The rebuilding of the city of St. John's after the Great Fire of 1892 : a study in urban morphogenesis

Oliver, Elizabeth (1983) The rebuilding of the city of St. John's after the Great Fire of 1892 : a study in urban morphogenesis. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

A city's present forms and patterns of land tenure and of relative locations are among the most important of the influences on its continuing development. The constraining influence of some of these forms and patterns can be seen to be so great that they affect even the rebuilding of a city partially destroyed by a major catastrophe. -- “Great Fires" were typically nineteenth century events, common to many North American, and other cities. In St. John's, Newfoundland, the last occurred in 1892. It is around this city and this Fire that the work of this thesis is centred. However, the city and its circumstances are examined not with the intention of providing only an historical geography of late nineteenth century St. John's, but with one of utilizing the time and place as a laboratory for a study of influences which may be expected to be more or less universal. -- In order to do this, it was first necessary to describe the city as it was both before and after the Fire, and also to examine in more detail two small sub-areas of the city. Only by placing St. John's and these areas in the context of their times was it possible to use a knowledge of them as the “initial” and “final" states from which the processes of development and redevelopment could be inferred. -- Data from two major sources, the city directories for 1890 and 1892, and the insurance atlases for 1880 and 1892 and for 1893 to 1911, along with that from one less useful source, the city tax rolls for the early 1890’s, were then used in a statistical analysis of the importance of certain influence upon the process of rebuilding. -- Most important of these influences was revealed to be the fragmentation of ownership: streets with the most diffuse ownership of land tended to be those least completely rebuilt. The type of ownership, on the other hand, was related to the extent households displaced by the Fire returned to their original streets. Street patterns, and especially whether or not a particular street had been altered in the aftermath of the Fire, also affected redevelopment, as did the pre-Fire residential or commercial character of the street.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5536
Item ID: 5536
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 202-222.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: 1983
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Avalon Peninsula--St. John's
Library of Congress Subject Heading: St. John's (N.L.)--Historical geography; St. John's (N.L.)--Fire, 1892

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