Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of the Urban Fabric of Nuremberg From the 1940s Onwards Using Historical Maps

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Abstract:  As one of the most heavily bomb-damaged cities in Germany, with around 90% of its historic city centre destroyed, Nuremberg (Nürnberg) provides an excellent example to investigate the urban transformation of a post-war city. In this article, we bring together heterogeneous and under-researched data sets and archival material from the post-war period and convert urban features depicted in historic maps and scanned documents into digital geospatial data that is analyzed with a geographical information system. We combine morphological variables of townscape analysis to present three different transformations over time. First, using a damage map of Nuremberg from the Second World War, we examine the varying extent of bomb damage across the city at the detailed district level. Secondly, we focus on land-use units, comparing the pre-war spatial land-use distribution from 1940 with historical maps of land use/cover from 1956 and more recent land uses in 1969. Finally, using selected characteristics of urban form, we categorize pre-war and present-day urban block typologies to examine urban morphological change. In doing so, we contribute methodologically and substantively towards a new framework for the analysis of post-war cities. We demonstrate how geographical information systems can be utilized for historical research and the study of change in urban environments, presenting a map-based interpretation of the planning strategies to have guided post-war urban development in Nuremberg. Providing an alternative appraisal of post-war city transformation, our diachronic research offers insight into Nuremberg’s under-researched past, which is also of interest to planners and policymakers seeking to improve future cities.

Keywords:  city transformation; damage maps; geographical information science; post-war planning; urban morphology



© Carol Ludwig, Seraphim Alvanides. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.