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

Carol Ludwig, Seraphim Alvanides*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


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 postwar city. In this article, we bring together heterogeneous and under-researched data sets and archival material from the postwar 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 prewar 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 prewar 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 postwar 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 postwar urban development in Nuremberg. Providing an alternative appraisal of postwar 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-254
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Planning
Issue number1
Early online date21 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023


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