Archeologists dig to go back in geologic time.  A similar type of thing can be done with infrastructure, in a way, although there is no digging.  You can observe different infrastructure forms and development patterns driving on a highway.

Starting on Route 128 (technically, I-93) in Canton, exit onto Massachusetts State Highway 138 south.  The immediate area around the 128 beltway is green and organized.  To the east is parkland of the Blue Hills Reservation and the Ponkapoag Golf Corse.  To the immediate west is the Bradley Estate, with acres of woodlands.  Travelling further south, Route 138 crosses an area with older colonial style homes.  Much of this area was developed before Route 128 was built.  So the land use pattern was pre-established before the superhighway was constructed. 

Continuing further south, the leafiness and organized terrain melts away into a glopscape of  low-slung factories and strip malls.   Much of the infrastructure here was built after Route 128.  In other words, the surburban sprawl pattern in this area was established after the beltway opened.

Unlike many other US beltways, where every exit is a sprawled glopscape, much of the right-of-way along Route 128 has a more civilized and organized layout.  This is because Route 128 was built in areas where the development pattern had already been set prior to the advent of sprawl.  You can see a similar development pattern along British motorways.  Britain is not immune to sprawl, but British freeways cross areas that were built for centuries before cars were invented.  So the more human-scaled villages and countryside remains only to be crossed by the new highways instead of being overrun by them.   This compares with freeways in Texas and other states where much of the land was undeveloped and ripe for strip malls.  With no pre-existing land use pattern, the adjacent land is trashed.

On Route 138, you see both:  the pre-highway, 19th century landscape in northern Canton, and a sprawled glopscape further south.  The next land use pattern after that would be wilderness, but by now southeastern Massachusetts is largely developed.  There are patches of woods here and there on remaining stretches of Route 138 south, until you reach the old mill town of Fall River at the end of the road.