Situating Flyover Territory

LAST Lab alum and Illinois graduate Grant Penfield-Haugen (MLA ’17) recently completed a traveling fellowship title “Situating Flyover Territory: Identity + Mobility in the Midwest.” His visits to Cleveland, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and St. Louis included interviews with business owners, politicians, and civic leaders, as well as photography. 


Below is a copy of his research statement:


“The continual urbanization of the United States is leading to the emergence of megaregions throughout the country, including the Midwest. Despite its common pejorative as the flyover country between the East and West Coasts, the Midwest is too large to be recognized as a stable or singular identity. What and where is the Midwest? 
This project explores the intersection between identity and mobility in “Flyover Territory,” deploying various mapping techniques and methods to understand both territory and urban space by the networks that pass through them. By spatializing the flow of people, critical nodes, synergies and actors are revealed, illustrating how these infrastructural networks influence the identities within Flyover Territory. The essence of place within this region is explored, illuminating how natural landscape and physical dimensions come together to influence the identity. When assembled, these cartographies serve to produce a new imagery of Flyover Territory. 
Furthermore, this project investigates entrepreneurial and economic opportunities using four Flyover Territory cities: Cleveland, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis. As the price of living becomes increasingly high on the East and West Coasts, coupled with the detrimental effects of climate change and natural disasters that are so pervasive on both of these coasts, it’s inevitable that the middle of the country is well situated for future growth. By visiting these cities, underlying conditions upon which new realities will be written are exposed, demonstrating the evolution of urban territories and how new settlement patterns are shaping the urban core.”

Conor O'Shea