"Not only is the downtown 'a composite of its multiple simultaneously perceived realities," but these simultaneously perceived realities are in a constant state of flux over time. Consequently, any downtown characteristic boundary (whether based on perception or any other criterion) can be expected to have a relatively short life. This paper demonstrates the utility of using oral boundary descriptions to present changes over time in perceived downtown boundaries. The Oral Method presented here, uses a phenomenological approach. On the other hand, most methods addressing downtown boundaries are based on rational or positive theories. These rational or positive approaches require researchers to predetermine what specific characteristics constitute the downtown, a difficult task given the downtown's history and its continuing change. To determine a perceived downtown boundary, individuals familiar with the downtown were asked to describe orally where they thought the downtown boundary was located (the Oral Method). As a check on this approach, they were also asked to draw the boundary on an oblique aerial photo of the downtown with a street map overlay (the Oblique Aerial Photo Method). The oblique aerial photo and street map overlay provided the participants with information not available when they gave the oral description. This provides the detail of a photo with the additional information of a map. This also reduces the level of abstraction found in conventional maps or aerial photos taken directly overhead. This oblique photo and map combination addresses the concern noted in the literature that respondents asked to draw the downtown boundary on a base map may not know how to read a map or may have forgotten the location of a particular feature. Based on a Tacoma, Washington, USA case study, the Oblique Aerial Photo Method did not provide significantly different results from those obtained using the Oral Method. The Oblique Aerial Photo Method's value is that it supports the reliability of the Oral Method, which is much easier to administer."