We can take this a step further, learning about operating systems and various planning endeavors. Currently, I am planning the spacial organization of a significant suburban town, including roadways, buildings, lighting, etc. I started with a sketch of the available 'real estate' as well as photos from small-town 'downtown' districts in Central New York, and came up with a working diagram of the general set-up of the town. This doesn't need to be to scale - this sketch serves as a template for ideas, not as an engineering document.
The key here is plausibility - everything about this project needs to result in a scene that will be reminiscent of life in Central New York, an area defined by the winter season, and constructed in an era when Syracuse was the "Salt City" and the Erie Canal was new, exciting, and vastly profitable. My version of Fayetteville, NY, is considerably more developed than the prototype, because my version has the Onondaga Cutoff which would have added a substantial amount of capital and population as compared to the small town that it actually is.
Therefore, the next step was to visit and photograph other towns in Central New York that are closer to what my version of Fayetteville would be, towns like Skaneateles, Marcellus, and Cazenovia. These were towns that had railroads in the era when they were growing, and therefore would be good prototypes for my Fayetteville. Google Earth is also very helpful here. Note the architectural features, colors, and layout of these main street commercial rows:
The next steps are to select some kits available on the market to represent a slice of 'downtown' and to paint and detail those kits to suggest a scene like these.
The railroad becomes almost secondary in projects like this - what we are doing is sub-urban planning, in order to create a supporting scene around the railroad that makes the whole layout more plausible. How's that for 'Model Railroading?' This is a hobby where it is very difficult to run out of things to think about.