Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

Navy UDT-Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida. Al was in the vanguard of several amphibious Allied invasions of Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. His team swam ashore, often under heavy fire, to clear mines, map enemy defenses, and scout enemy positions in advance of landings by the Marines. His maps helped guide the Allied invasions of Okinawa and Borneo. Just days after the nuclear blast in Nagasaki, Japan, he was among the first American troops who cleared the port for Allied use. Al was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Presidential Unit Citation.

After the war, Al returned to Rensselaer, where he earned his degree in civil engineering in 1947; he then moved to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his master’s degree in city planning. He also renewed his courtship of Nathalie Potter, a tall attractive linguist who was then working for U.S. Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, her home state. Nathalie and Al were married in 1949.

In 1952, Al completed the Yale University traffic program. While at Yale, he also developed the “gravity model,” the first successful technique for forecasting urban travel patterns based on future land-development patterns. He published this groundbreaking work, “A General Theory of Traffic Movement,” in the Proceedings of the Institute of Traffic Engineers in 1955.

In 1949, he began his working career as the first city-planning engineer for Colorado Springs, Colorado, for which he developed a master plan for land use and transportation. He was also a member of a committee that put together a proposal for bringing the Air Force Academy to Colorado Springs.

In 1952, he became planning engineer for the Automotive Safety Foundation, a nonprofit corporation in Washington, D.C., where he further developed and applied his novel methodology of forecasting urban travel and assisted the federal government in developing computer programs for American cities that needed metropolitan-transportation plans, which were required by law before federal funds could be used for construction of urban portions of interstate highways. Al’s gravity model and its later derivatives were soon in standard

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement