"Our ability to live meaningfully in our urban and rural environment largelydepends on adequate understanding, as does our ability to design and buildwell instead of poorly. The goal of the paper is to show that Americans liveamidst several simultaneously present landscapes and to present a method tointerpret the underlying landscape visions - in order to disclose how it isthat what appears to be chaotic or unmanageable really is a complex and richtradition, still unfolding.Our presentation will use the cultural hermeneutics of M. Heidegger and M.Foucault to move beyond the work done by J.B. Jackson, C. Norberg-Schulz,and K. Lynch. Questions remain as to whether these latter three interpreta-tions adequately deal with the complex historical development and conflicts.In fact, as distinct from J.B. Jackson's three categories of organizing cityand landscape (the political, the inhabited or vernacular, and the thirdemerging "existential" concept), from Norberg-Schulz's three archetypesof man-made place and landscape (romantic, classical, and cosmic), andfrom Lynch's three theories and types of city form (cosmic, mechanical, andorganic),this study argues that the American social and spatial patterns arethe result of the overlay and struggle of more complex organizing princi-ples. Heidegger's historical hermeneutic of the unfolding epoches of cultural and intellectual history provides the potential categories to more adequatelyInterpret the accumulation and contest between types of social-spatial or-ganizations.Specifically, this paper will develop three hypotheses: A) the Americanlandscape is the result of seven historically distinct cultural - spatial pat-terns 1) primal - homological, 2) nucleated - heterogeneous, 3) democrat-ic - gridded, 4) rational - vectoral, 5) romantic - participatory, 6) tech-nological - aspatial, 7) figural - originary. B) These seven alternativelandscapes remain tensed today as a complex, but dynamic landscape. C) un-tangling the overlapping patterns is a key to the interpretation of the pastand the development of a coherent future way of life.For each of the seven patterns the inner logic will be described and clearexamples provided of "pure" occurences of these forms in America such asin 1) Native American communities, 2) early New England and Central Tex-as villages, 3) southern rural and mid-western towns, 4) southwesternSpanish cities and the City Beautiful and Imperial, 5) romantic parks andsuburbs, 6) systems and logistical forms used in planning and design, 7)localized blo-regional design and the ecological movement."