Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


School of Urban Planning and Regional Studies

Major Professor

Lodhi, Mahtab; Wildgen, John

Second Advisor

Brooks, Jane

Third Advisor

Wagner, Fritz

Fourth Advisor

Miestchovich, Ivan


Icons surround us but are so ubiquitous they are difficult to observe. Specifically urban cultural icons are a scientific sub-topic under urban morphology's heading and as well are closely related to economic development issues. This study premises that businesses are urban cultural icons which can be computed into four rankings: local cultural icons, focal, zonal, and global cultural icons. And through using dimensional measurement an index is measured. This index can then be used to assess urban morphology. The data set ranges from businesses opening in 1865 to the present. Some are globally-distributed "big boxes"; others are unique one-store shops. The varied data set includes grocery stores, drug stores, prepared food vendors, confectioneries, coffee houses, electronic stores, and an adult entertainment store. Business rankings are premised upon Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Tönnies, and Oldenburg's places to socialize, and node intensity of social connection. Time is measured linearly and ordinally. Two formats of geographical ranking are assessed against each other, with the expanded version providing greater insights. Transactions are determined by who initiates them and location where employee enters exchange. Business' internal consistency is based upon product-line inclusion and theme-ing. Scaled measurements are summed with a comparison of Weighted-Place Index Scores against non-weighted Index Scores. As well, economic development impact of businesses is analyzed with three principal components loadings: two business survival and one growth mode. Study results support the use of Weighted-Place Index Scores as compared to nonweighted Index scores when formatting cultural icon index. Index score using four-level geographical ranking ranged from zero to 25. Morning Call Coffee House had lowest ranking (Index score of 3) and Best Buy had the highest score of 22. Weighted-Place Index Scores ranged from zero to 32, with Morning Call Coffee House continuing as lowest score and Starbucks, Bad Ass Coffee, as well ApplianceWorld and Best Buy continuing with four highest scores. This study supports a research method which can be used to measure urban change. By applying Index score within same cities at 20-year increments, sprawl process of globalization within cities can be analyzed.


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