Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Robert Q. Hanham.


The objective of this research has been to combine geographic traditions of physical and human geography to investigate the role each play in the conceptualization of place utilizing the City of Erie and Presque Isle as a case study. From its inception, the economic structure associated with the City of Erie has been primarily centered on the presence of Presque Isle. Early industry focused on shipbuilding, shipping related to heavy industry. By 1907, the shipping industry at Erie was third largest on the Great Lakes, behind only Buffalo and Chicago. When the shipping industry began to wane in the mid to late 20 th Century, Presque Isle became a major recreation destination in Pennsylvania, hosting up to four million visitors each year. Throughout Erie's history, the unique natural presence of Presque Isle has fostered and continues to create economic opportunity. For this research, a narrative incorporating historic economic exploitation, from the incorporation of Erie, through the most recent economic transition from an industrial focus, which took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s, to one centered on a recreation driven service economy has been constructed in order to emphasize the inter-connectivity of physical forces acting out on a land form and geomorphic influences on urban infrastructure and economic activity. In order to achieve this goal, this research has examined each of these phenomenon dependently in order to gain a more complete understanding of what constitutes place.