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April 24, 2012

Digitizing 100 years of land values

     Here's a quiz: how many recognize something called Olcott's Blue Books? Gabriel Ahlfeldt from the London School of Economics certainly does. He's been working on a unique dataset of historical land values derived from Olcott’s Blue Books, which were published annually between 1900 and 1990, and represented in map form a range of spatial information about the city of Chicago and its suburbs, including data on land values, land use, building heights, public transportation, and schools. Since the books were published annually for nearly a century, the information makes it possible to observe land values and urban development over a long period of time. The purpose of this project is to digitize and process the Blue Books data, making it available for statistical analysis of long run adjustments in land values. The data extraction process involves using geographic information system (GIS) software to create a rectangular grid following Chicago’s street pattern and produce a unique spatiotemporal dataset. 
     Ahlfeldt, a lecturer in Urban Economics and Land Development at LSE, and also an affiliate of the Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC) and the Centre for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin, will deliver the final Lincoln Lecture of the spring series, One Hundred Years of Land Values, May 2 at Lincoln House. His research concentrates on the effect of large transport projects and architectural developments on local house prices, local political preferences and urban structure, as well as the way in which various agglomeration forces shape the spatial concentration of economic activity. His work has been published in leading field journals, including  Regional Science and Urban Economics, Real Estate Economics, Urban Studies, the Annals of Regional Science, the Journal of Regional Science, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, as well as general interest economics journals such as  Economics Letters, Journal of Economics and Statistics, and German Economic Review. Prior to joining the faculty at LSE, he earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Hamburg and worked as a research assistant for the Free University of Berlin.
     The lecture is free but registration is required.

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