THE DISCIPLINE OF GEOGRAPHY aims to describeand explain the nature of spatial variation as observedon the Earth’s surface. There have been a number ofways proposed to divide the discipline, but in the end itis easy to see a human geography (the human use ofthe Earth’s surface), a physical geography (naturalprocesses on the Earth’s surface), and an area wherethe interest is on the human-environment interface.There are also a whole series of techniques and toolsfor studying each of these subdivisions. Geographersanalyze how human activities are distributed on thesurface of the earth, why they are located where theyare, and what implications stem from these distributions.Just about everything in the world of geographyhas some relationship with transportation. The formand organization of both settlements and the productionof goods is intimately and intricately linked to theability to move people and commodities across space.It was the Greeks who believed that the origin, growth,and development of cities was a direct consequence ofhuman wants and needs. Within this context, we caneasily see that it is the existence of cities that creates ademand for transport. At the same time, the developmentof transport within a given region leads to 2 interestingoutcomes.On the 1 hand, transportation serves as a limit tothe development of an area. It does this by establishingfunctional limits to movement of people and commoditieswithin the city sphere. At the same time, the presenceof operational limits plays a critical role inshaping the space these very limits bound. This impactis accomplished through a variety of social and economicfeedback mechanisms. Looked at slightly differently,we might say that the size and scale of the anygiven region is directly related to the development ofthe transportation function within that region.For most people living before the Industrial Revolution, life began and ended in 1 place. Communitieswere largely self-sufficient entities whose geographicboundaries (both physical and political) weregenerally determined by the distance 1 could easilywalk. This kept most urban forms remarkably compact.It also makes it easy to see how the early developmentof both economic and political geography wasclosely tied to the core and periphery concept. Therewas no public transport in cities at this time, and intercitytravel was rough and restricted. As James Joyce indicatedin The Story of Passenger Transport in Britain,travel during the Middle Ages meant that “you couldeasily trip into a ditch or get stuck in the mud, and youcould easily lose your way along unmarked roads thattook an indeterminate course across open and desolatecountryside.”If, on the other hand, you were a person of rank,you might just as well fall victim to some roadside thiefready to relieve you of any valuables as you made yourway across the unprotected lands between urban centers.Even in some rural settings, the most honest ofpeasants might throw stones at you, not from any personalmotives, but simply because you were a stranger.And in the age of isolation, strangers were never to betrusted.Transportation is a fundamentally geographicalphenomenon. But that does not mean that it does notreflect strong economic undertones. This becomes clearas soon as you remember that the focus of transportationis on the movement of people and commoditiesthrough space and thus through time. In simplestterms, transportation is connectivity. When connectivityisn't important, there is little reason for transport,and life goes on at singular locations. But once there issome reason for connection, a host of important factorscome into play. Every movement starts somewhere,ends somewhere, and follows a certain routethrough space and time. Every movement affects, andis affected by, conditions at the origin, the destination,and the various conditions that exist along the way.Transportation, then, plays a significant role in thedevelopment of space as both a factor and a process.As such, the study of transportation must take placeacross a range of spatial scales, from local to regionalto global and across a range of purposes, from social,to commercial, to military.It has been common to place transportation geographywithin the broader human geographic context.This is because its conceptual framework is centeredhuman activity within a context of overcoming spacesubject to various physical geographic limitations.Transportation geography is generally considered tohave 2 operating themes. The first focuses on transportationand its role in the organization of space. Thatis, how transportation has affected the shape and characterof a place and how it has given place meaning.The best example of this comes from just saying “SanFrancisco”; most of us first think of the hills and thetrolley cars that operate there or perhaps the GoldenGate BridgeOr 1 might think of Lombard Street with its numerousturns back and forth across a fairly steep landscape.Say “Venice” (Italy) and most people think ofcanals and interesting river taxis. This, then, is the contextwithin which transportation begins to shape alandscape and help give it meaning as place. This categorycan in turn be subdivided into how transportationis organized geographically and how transportation organizesother human activities. Examples of the former(spatial organization of transportation) include networks,corridors, hierarchies, hinterlands, inter-modalconnections, and so on. Examples of the latter (spatialaspects of human society and economy that affect andare affected by transportation) include land use patterns,industrial location, urban hierarchies, informationflows, shopping, regional development, trade, andthe natural environment.