Posted September 22, 1999
James E. Vance Jr., professor emeritus of geography, died Aug. 3, at age 73. Jay Vance, as he was popularly known, received his Ph.D. in 1952 from Clark University, where he had also studied as an undergraduate. Before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1958, he had held teaching positions at the University of Arkansas, the University of Wyoming and the University of Nebraska.
He was a pioneer in the field of urban morphogenesis, gaining worldwide recognition for his work on the emergence and transformation of the central business district and other modern urban spatial forms in North America and Europe.
In the latter part of his career, his research increasingly focused on the historical geography of transportation, especially in relation to the settlement history of the United States.
His major works included "This Scene of Man: The Role and Structure of the City in the Geography of Western Civilization," "Capturing the Horizon: The Historical Geography of Transportation Since the Sixteenth Century Transportation Revolution" and "The North American Railroad: Instrument of National Development."
A devoted and captivating teacher, he quickly received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1960. In 1979, he was given an award for distinguished contributions to geography, the most prestigious honor granted by the Association of American Geographers.
He is survived by his daughter, Tiffany Vance. A memorial celebration will be held at 5 p.m., Oct. 15, in the Women's Faculty Club Lounge.