Levels of organization in urban navigation

John A. Teske, Elizabethtown College
David P. Balser, Adelphi University


This study examined the relationship between urban experience, indexed by residential proximity to and lifetime frequency of contact with an urban center, and the ability to identify five different levels of information pertinent to navigation. Lower levels included traditional spatial components of place, path and node. Higher levels included functional urban goals (destinations) and their strategic ordering (itineraries). Identifications of each component were made from photographs of its parts. Identifications of destinations and itineraries correlated highly with nodes. Indices of experience correlated more highly with functional than spatial identifications. More experienced subjects generally identified more components at all levels, and higher-level identifications were generally more difficult, but closer residents were less likely to find functional identifications more difficult than spatial. Results are discussed in terms of skill acquisition and variations in urban transactions. © 1986 Academic Press Inc. (London) Limited.