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Gottmann, Jean (1915–1994)

  • By: J. Matthew Shumway
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Jean Gottmann was one of the premier urbanists of the 20th century. Born in the Ukraine, Gottmann was raised in France. After a traditional French education, he studied geography within the French regional tradition of Paul Vidal de la Blache. It is from this tradition that Gottmann started to develop his own ideas on the nature and meaning of geography, including the spatial theory that eventually led to his most famous work.

It was through the 1961 publication of Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States that Gottmann established himself as one of the most influential geographers of the 20th century. While he used the term megalopolis to refer specifically to the 600-mile-long metropolitan corridor between Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., the term has ...

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