In this lesson you will learn about the 5 themes of geography. The 5 themes are a a very important concept that you will likely see in every social studies class you take. The 5 themes were developed by geographers to categorize everything they need to study and consider about an area.
Let’s look at location first. When studying a place we must consider where this place is. This is also known as a location. There are 2 different ways to describe a location, absolute or relative location.
Absolute location is exactly where a place is on the earth’s surface. To share an absolute location it is necessary to give the latitude and longitude coordinates of where the location is. Remember latitude and longitude are the imaginary grid lines that measure how far north or south you are from the equator or how far east or west you are from the prime meridian.
Throughout this lesson we will pretend to be geographers who have been given the assignment of applying the 5 themes of geography to New York City. So for example if were were to find the absolute location of NYC we would locate on a map that its latitude is 40.7° N, and longitude is 74° W.
Now the other way that we can share location is by describe it as it relates to another place. This usually requires that the direction words such as north, south, east and west are included in the discussion. So when you are asked to describe where your school is and you say it is next to the railroad tracks or across the street from the park, you are giving the relative location of the school.
If we were to give the relative location of NYC we could say that it is Northeast in relation to the city of Philadelphia. We could also say that the island of Manhattan, one of the 5 boroughs is located between the Hudson and East River. If we were to describe the relative location of the Empire State Building, one of the most famous landmarks in NYC we could say that it is 227 miles north of the White House in Washington DC or that it is about 15 blocks from Central Park. Both types of location let us know where we can find this place in 2 different ways!
The next theme is place. When thinking about place me must wonder what is it like there? What specific physical and human characteristics are present that make this place different and unique from somewhere else?
Physical characteristics of a place will include the natural features that are already present there. These will include the geographic landforms such as the hills, mountains, plateaus or plains, the animals who inhabit the area and the climate conditions that those who live in this place have to experience.
In nyc these physical characteristics could include that Manhattan is located on an island surrounded on all sides by water or that it is in a humid subtropical climate which typically has hot humid summers and mild to cool winters. If you have ever been to NYC in the summer and been sweating as you walk down the side walk in a heatwave or felt the wind whipping at your cheeks in December you know this is true!
On the other hand human characteristics that were created by the people who live in a specific place can also make this place unique. These characteristic can include the culture, language spoken, religions that are practiced, buildings, transportation systems and other landmarks that have been built in that area.
NYC is home to many famous landmarks that are synonymous with NYC including the Empire State Building and Times Square. People around the world can see pictures of these landmarks and immediately know that they are located in NYC. The subway system of underground trains is also a man made characteristic that helps define NYC and make it unique.
The 3 rd theme of geography is human and environment interaction. In this theme we must consider how they impact each other. Humans and responsible for the changing, shaping, taming and destroying of many environment features but the environment can also change the way people live and adapt to their daily lives. It is important to know that these impacts can be both positive or negative.
In NYC the environmental conditions that are present impact how humans can live and travel. Parts of NYC are built in low lying areas close to the water. When hurricanes hit this region, like what happened a few weeks ago with Sandy, the water can rise and flood the areas where people are living. It is important that these areas are evacuated like the subway system to prevent drownings and other injuries from occurring. Also in order to travel from Manhattan, Staten Island and the other boroughs to surrounding areas bridges needed to be built to cross the water. Because NYC is populated with a large number of people factories and other buildings have been built to house many businesses. Additionally many cars, trucks, and buses are driven to get from one place to another. To run these vehicles gas is used and exhaust is given off. The pollution that these factories and vehicles give off contribute to air pollution and deteriorating air quality. These human made buildings and vehicles are having an effect on NYC’s environment.
Movement is the 4 th theme that is used by geographers. Today more than ever before it is simple to move people, goods, ideas, and money from one place to another. Examining how and why this movement occurs helps geographers see how places are connected.
Tourism is one of the main industries NYC relies upon to help its businesses make money. Last year 50.5 million tourists came to visit the famous landmarks and sights throughout NYC. Theses people not only brought themselves but their ideas, language, culture, and money into the city from elsewhere. While visiting they brought souvenirs and ate food exchanging goods and money moving them into the city. This movement of ideas helps to contribute to the interconnectedness different areas. Another example of movement in NYC is the number of immigrants who arrived from various countries throughout the world. 12 million of these immigrants came during the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries and brought with them their languages, religions and customs to merge with those that already existed in NYC. They also spoke with others and exchanged ideas about how different the culture, language and buildings were from where they were from.
The final geographic theme is region. These are areas that have something in common be it language, industry, religion, customs, physical features or other characteristics that allow them to be grouped together. By separating areas into regions geographers are able to study what makes one region different from another and how they change and develop over time.
NYC is located in the northeast of the US. The states in this region have large populous cities and were all members of the original thirteen colonies. NYC is also located along the eastern seaboard a region who shares physical features such as being located along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. NYC can be broken down into smaller regions by separating it into its 5 boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island which can be defined by their physical features, industries and heritage and customs of their residents that makes them each unique.
Now its your turn to see what you have learned. Pause the video and try and list all 5 themes. Be sure to come up with an example or 2 for each theme. When you are done press play and check to see that you were able to name all 5!
5 Themes Of Geography
5 THEMES OFGEOGRAPHY SOCIAL STUDIES – MISS MILAZZO
Location Location describes where a place is. 2 Types of Location Absolute Location Relative Location
Absolute Location Describes the exact location on the earth’s surface Use latitude and longitude to describe this location Global address
Absolute Location NEW YORK CITY Latitude: 40° 7 N Longitude: 74° W
Relative Location Describes a place in relation to another place Typically directional words are used to describe the location
Relative Location NEW YORK CITY Northeast of Empire State Philadelphia Building is 227 miles Located between the north of the White Hudson River and East House. River It is also about 15 blocks from New Yorks Central Park.
Place The physical and human characteristics that make a place unique
PhysicalCharacteristics What naturally is present? Can include landforms such as mountains or bodies of water, animals, the climate or weather conditions
PhysicalCharacteristics NEW YORK CITY Located on an island called Manhattan Has a humid subtropical climate
Human Characteristics What do people make or do there? Can include their culture, language, religion, politics, buildings, landmarks, bridges, and roads
Human-EnvironmentInteraction The impact humans and the environment have on each other. Can be positive or negative.
Human-EnvironmentInteraction NEW YORK CITY Hurricanes can occur in this area and subways or low lying coastal areas need to be evacuated. On an island so humans have had to adapt and build a bridge to be able to and from the city Air pollution exists from factories, buildings, and vehicle
Movement The mobility of people, goods and ideas Travel, communication, trade
Movement NEW YORK CITY 50.5 million tourists visited in 2011 Immigration - Between 1892 and 1956 over 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island
Region Unifying physical, human, or cultural characteristics in an area Helps geographers split the world into areas of study
Region NEW YORK CITY In the Northeast of the United States Located along the eastern seaboard 5 boroughs which include Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island
Can you name the 5 themes?Try and give an example of each!Press play to check your answers!
And the 5 themes are…1 – Location2 – Place3 – Human-Environment Interaction4 – Movement5 – Region