A Field Work Assignment:
"Eight Blocks of Tallahassee"
Getting to Know Your Community Past, Present and Future

Click here for a hard copy of the Field Work Assignment.

To make a community you must have people and the places where they live, work and play. As time passes, interests, technology and land use change the face of your community. This assignment is designed to get students out in the community and exploring the historical as well as current and future land use around them.

To help you understand how to explore a landscape we have selected an area in Tallahassee that has an interesting history as well as interesting future, The All Saints Neighborhood. The All Saints Neighborhood was originally developed in the 1880's as a residential area. It was located between downtown and the railroad terminal with good access to the Florida State College for Women. It received the name All Saints because all of the streets were named for saints by the Irish laborers who laid out the streets and lots. Today St. Francis, St. Michael and All Saints are the only names left from that period.

By 1978, the neighborhood had fallen into disrepair and neglect even though its relative location to Florida State (and Florida A & M), the railroad station and the government cluster, was still outstanding. This eight block area was considered a good case study area for the development of land use concepts. By 1978, the area included several relatively sound properties, many dilapidated parcels, as well as abandoned and vacant sites. Commercial and industrial properties were concentrated along Railroad and Gaines streets.

Changes to Florida State College for Women, Florida A & M, the addition of the State Department of Education Building, the Civic Center, and the rail service all made the study more interesting. Land use changes and their effects included infrastructure service, property values, tax implications, commercial/residential competition, single dwelling vs. multi-dwelling, and density characteristics were some of the variables to be considered by the class as they developed a future land use plan. Good data was available for the eight block area from the Planning Department and the Property Appraiser's Office which encouraged data gathering as well as on-the-ground field research. Those conditions and easily acquired interviews made the assignment a well rounded land use study.

So what has changed? What is happening to the All Saints Neighborhood now? How about its future? Let's take a look.

Step 1 - Familiarize yourself with the area by examining the maps we have. Notice the types of maps, the scale, year and details each map displays. Take notes that may be helpful to you when you get in the field from both our class discussion and the maps provided. This information may be useful when you are exploring the field study site.

Step 2 - Take the map with the property lines with you in the field. (See All Saints Map and Simple Field Exercise Notes sheet) Note the following for your block:
    1. Land Use (both current and any clues to past land use for the parcel)
    2. Condition of buildings and other construction
    3. Estimate age of construction
    4. Note any changes that need to be made to the map (e.g. a street no longer is accessible by cars, a new road has been opened)
    5. Zoning designations and what they mean
    6. Take field notes on site and situation observations (site and situation observations are things you notice that are unique to the location (site) such as the landforms or other physical landscape qualities of a settlement and the (situation) refers to the location of a place relative to its surroundings and other places, such as how close raw materials are to a particular industry.
For example can you think of a unique quality about the site and situation of All Saints that deals with State Government, Florida State University and Florida A&M University? You can take a photo of anything of particular interest while exploring your block.

For more about Site and Situation visit: http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/sitesituation.htm

Step 3 - When you come back from your first field experience, choose two parcels on your assigned block that are built on and plan a trip to the Property Appraiser's office (either in person or virtually at http://www.co.leon.fl.us/prop/). Determining which parcels are yours can be tricky. If you don't have a street address, you can search by subdivision and look at the map to determine which parcels are on your assigned block. To get your parcel ID you can go to the Property Appraiser's website and search for your subdivision. Example: Searching for All Saints will bring up the parcels in the All Saints Neighborhood. Click on any of the IDs listed and find the GIS Map option on the page. When you get to the map you can zoom in and out as well as pan to find your parcel. You can also look at aerial photos of the parcel and its surroundings. Once you have identified the parcels on your block, collect the following information:
  • Parcel ID
  • Location
  • Name of owner
  • Legal description
  • Land value
  • Improvement value
  • Market price
  • Taxable price
  • Recent sales information
  • And the March tax figure
Step 4 - Now you have collected all kinds of information about the current site and situation for your parcels. So now what? What can we use to learn about the history of the area? What is currently planned for the area? Did you see any signs or clues to new land use in the area? What do we know that will help us make decisions about the future of the area? Do some digging! You may need to go back to your field site and revisit the parcels you have collected now that you know more about them. Use the clues you collect out in the field as well as those you found online to help you determine what you suggest for your parcels future.

Example: When walking down All Saints Avenue, we saw a banner hanging on the old Coca Cola bottling plant that advertised a place called All Saints Hops Yard with a URL under it, http://www.allsaintshopyard.com and we found all kinds of interesting things that the owners have planned for the old plant as well as links to other ventures they have in the All Saints neighborhood. By exploring these websites one could find the location of these new businesses as well as good ideas for your parcel.

Once you have researched the past and present of your parcels and thought about what you would like to see happen to your parcels then it is time to put your final report together. Your report should include but not be limited to the following: Be creative!
    1. A short report about the study area and your specific blocks importance to the study area. Include the current site and situation and any suggestions you might have to upgrade this eight block area of Tallahassee.
    2. Use maps drawings and photos to illustrate your plans for a thriving future All Saints Neighborhood.


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