Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology

Committee Chair

Kathryn Sampeck


In the 1920s and 1930s in Central Illinois, urban areas implemented sewage infrastructure consisting of underground sewers and sanitation plants. These sanitary districts soon became an essential service provided within the community and the established infrastructure has undergone expansion and technological updates in the decades since. I use methods and concepts of landscape archaeology in combination with 1940 Census socio-economic demographics, GIS viewshed and smellshed (buffer) analysis, and visual spatial analysis to examine the case studies of three sanitary districts in Central Illinois: Bloomington-Normal, Urbana-Champaign, and Sangamon County to evaluate how these infrastructures shaped their landscapes, or sewagescapes. Sewagescapes have two important scales of analysis: the constituent scale, which refers to the sanitary districts’ relationship with the populations they serve, and the facility scale, including the sewage treatment plants and land owned by the district. Drawing upon theoretical frameworks of phenomenology, sensory engagement, and affordances, I argue that the sanitary district officials used landscapes at both constituent and facility scales as pedagogical and rhetorical tools. The sewagescapes educated visitors about the sewage treatment process, the environmental benefits of sewage treatment, the cleanliness and respectability of the facilities, and the separation between the city and sanitary district governments through features such as the entrance path, formal gardens, architecture, and overall landscape design. These pedagogical elements were simultaneously crafted to present the public with a positive image of the sanitary districts with the overall goal to justify the need for sewage treatment and encourage community support.


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