John Ottensmann

I received my PhD in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am retired after a career as a college professor, most of the time at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

My research and publication interests have ranged widely, but most of my work has been related in some way to what I call urban spatial structure. By that, I mean that I am trying to understand what is where in cities, why, and how that matters. The selected listings on the Publications page illustrate these interests.

Starting several years ago, after my retirement, I began a large research project looking at urban patterns and their changes in large metropolitan areas in the United States from 1950 to 2010. This has involved the creation of a dataset with housing units by census tract and the delineation of urban and exurban portions of the metropolitan areas for each census year. This is being used to investigate a variety of research questions. Papers and notes from the work can be downloaded from the Research page.

This blog

I am including two general types of content in this blog, as indicated in the tagline “Observations and research on urban structure.” My observations will include ideas, thoughts, opinions on cities, how we understand them and plan for them. These will be my take on a variety of urban issues. I hope to offer new perspectives, that will sometimes be at odds with accepted ideas.

In some of the research posts I will comment on methods and on the data we use for studying urban areas, especially data from the Census. And I certainly will be discussing my current research on urban patterns, how it is proceeding, and what I am learning.