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Title: Creating the Atlantic Port Town: Surveyors, Networks, and Geographies, 1670-1763
Authors: Sacks, Benjamin James
Advisors: Bell, David A.
Colley, Linda
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Atlantic World
Louis XIV
Port Towns
Urban Planning
Subjects: European history
Urban planning
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Between 1670 and 1763, the expanding French state sought to unify its various Atlantic port town planning practices into a broad, collective imperial urban planning framework. Ministers began to recognize the important roles imperial town planning could play in expanding and affirming state authority, reducing the power of proprietary colonial companies, promoting the king’s gloire, and better circulate experienced surveyors between Atlantic town sites. By the mid-eighteenth century, the fundamental tenets of what I have termed as the ville nouvelle framework had been established. But the ville nouvelle framework was not a static set of ordinances unidirectionally issued from Versailles to the colonies. It instead constituted a flexible, cohesive set of urban planning practices that evolved over a century of trans-imperial, multidirectional experimentation, application, reproduction, and refinement, and negotiated through increasingly state-led networks of surveyors, administrators, and ministers. As surveyors moved from one town project to another, they or their apprentices brought their gained knowledge and field experience with them. Ideally, each offspring town that surveyors created constituted at least a marginal improvement over the previous, parent town on which they had previously worked. Over time, through this networked, town-by-town process, certain concepts like grids, centralized administrative zones, protected wharfs, and canals became standardized in practice, if not in official code, as part of a general imperial framework. Surveyors themselves attempted to use these expanding imperial opportunities to enhance their socioeconomic lives, albeit with mixed success. This evolutionary process did not occur in isolation. Throughout this dissertation, I examine British responses. For much of this period, proprietary companies, not the state, dominated British Atlantic imperial urban planning. But as the early eighteenth-century British state underwent its own, fitful expansion, a growing number of administrators sought to observe, learn from, and reproduce some of the ville nouvelle framework’s practices and network hierarchies in such state-controlled towns as Gibraltar. Through network analysis and geographic information systems, this dissertation also proposes a new, multidimensional means of unifying, reconstructing, visualizing, and analyzing colonial town plans from traditionally incomplete, disparate primary evidence.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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