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A framework for the form of city study and some topics of study, 1954 December 22

 Item — Box: 01-001, Folder: 2
Identifier: cuid43919

Scope and content note

From the Series:

This series complements Kevin Lynch’s 1960 book The Image of the City. The material contained in this series relates to Lynch’s study The Perceptual Form of the City, conducted at MIT with Gyorgy Kepes from 1954 to 1960. The research done in this study was the foundation of his theories on city planning discussed in the book.

The majority of the series can be categorized into two main groupings, records documenting the planning, preparation, and progress of the project (1951-1956), and those that document the research process and findings (1954-1959). These records include field notes, interview transcripts, collected data, correspondence regarding the progress of the project and hand drawn maps. The remainder of the series includes the original artwork and photographs published in The Image of the City.

The material in many of the folders in boxes 2 and 3 refer to an overlapping project Lynch conducted with Malcolm Rivkin. The results of the project were published as “A Walk Around the Block,” in Landscape, Spring 1959.

Research: The Perceptual Form of the City included field research in Boston, Massachusetts; Los Angeles, California; and Jersey City, New Jersey. The majority of this collection relates to the Boston phase of the project. Only three folders refer specifically to the Los Angeles and Jersey City portions of the project.

Before beginning interviews in Boston, Lynch had his assistants survey the city and pilot test the interview process. This initial survey served to map out the city being studied and to create the vocabulary that Lynch and his associates would use throughout the project. Materials related to this survey, and pilot tests completed by assistants David Crane and Richard Dober are located in the folder “Field Analysis – Whole City.”

Book: In the margins of The Image of the City, Lynch included small graphics that served to illustrate the concepts he was discussing in the accompanying paragraphs. This series contains these illustrations.

Also included in the series are the photographs and drawings printed in The Image of the City. Each object includes its “figure number,” as assigned in the book, and the page number on which it can be found.

This series contains “Reconsidering the Image of the City,” an essay written by Lynch for Cities of the Mind: Images and themes of the city in the social sciences, edited by Lloyd Rodwin and Robert Hollister. In this essay, Lynch reflects on research methodology used for the Perceptual Form of the City project and the impact of The Image of the City 20 years after its publication.


  • Creation: 1954 December 22


Conditions Governing Access

Box is open.

Intellectual Property Rights

(c) Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the Department of Distinctive Collections and the copyright holder.


From the Collection: 16.5 Cubic Feet (12 record cartons, 8 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 4 medium flat boxes, 1 large flat box, 3 small media boxes, 1 slide box and 2 loose drawings, 10 oversize folders)

Language of Materials

From the File: English


The study discussed became the Perceptual Form of the City, a research project investigating the individual’s perception of the urban landscape.

Location of Originals

MC 208, Box 1, Early Steps


5 pages


Digitized as part of the Perceptual Form of the City digitization project.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US