Griffin-Ford Model

Model of a Latin American City
(Griffin-Ford Model)
The Latin American City Model was
created by Ernest Griffin and Larry Ford,
two geographers, in 1980. They
determined that the organization of
many cities in this region follow a similar
pattern. Eventually, they released a
revised model later in 1996 that we now
use today.
Latin American cities fell under the
rule of Spain during the colonial era.
As such, they all followed the same
set of regulations and laws known as
the Laws of the Indies. They allowed
Spain to keep reign* over its
colonies. One of the included
requirements was for the cities to
have a grid pattern established
around a central plaza. The wealthy
lived near the plaza while the poor
lived along the outskirts. This would
be the start of the similar patterns
found in Latin American cities.
*that rhymed 
The CBD (Central Business
District) is where most of
the business is focused. It
is characterized by
compact, high-building
densities and high land
cost. Many retail store,
offices, and cultural
activities are concentrated
here. It also has the best
infrastructure and many
means of transportation.
The CBD and Market
The market is located on the
other side of the CBD and is
less industrialized. It is a
traditional area for selling food
and goods brought from
outside the city (informal
The elite residential sector
is the living area of the
upper class and the uppermiddle class. It has the
best housing and forms
closely on either side of
the spine. The residents
frequent the spine and
have better services such
as water and electricity.
The Elite Residential
Sector and Spine
The Spine contains many
amenities, offices, and shops
attractive to the wealthy people.
It is a narrow strip that juts out
from the CBD. At the end is a mall
or edge city for those in the elite
The Zone of Maturity is
located around the CBD. It
has better housing,
although not as good as
around the spine, and is
filled with middle-class
residents who moved in
after the wealthy moved
into the elite residential
sector. It has a fully
developed infrastructure.
The Zone of Maturity
and Gentrification
Gentrification occurs when
middle-class residents move
back into the inner city to fix
the housing. It is located in the
Zone of Maturity and helps
increase property values.
The zone of in situ
accretion is a transitional
area between the zone of
maturity (higher class) and
the periferico (lower class).
It contains housing of
modest quality and
appears to be in a
“constant state of on-going
construction”. Homes and
infrastructure are
The Zone of in situ Accretion
and Middle-Class Residential
Middle-Class residential is an
outer semi ring on either side
of the elite residential sector. It
holds middle-class housing and
clusters around an
agglomeration, such as a mall.
The Disamenity sticks out
from the market like spokes
on a wheel and goes through
the zone of in situ accretion. It
is one of the poorest parts of
the city and is not connected
to regular city services in
some cases. It can be overrun
by gangs and drug lords in
extreme cases. It is also
unique to Latin American
The Disamenity and
Peripheral Squatters
Outside the disamenity sector is
the zone of peripheral squatter
settlements. It is home to the
poorest people of the cities. It
lacks infrastructure and most
people live there illegally.
A periferico, or ring highway,
connects malls, edge cities,
and industrial parks so
residents and workers may
travel between them easier. It
is found encircling the zone of
in situ accretion and
disamenity sectors, seperating
them from the zone of
peripheral squatter
The Periferico and the
Industrial Park
Now, many Latin American
cities have an industrial area or
park separate from the CBD.
Residents from other sectors
work there.
Example: Rio
Rio is an example of a city which the Griffin-Ford Model can be applied to. The CBD is located towards the south
east. Surrounding the CBD to the east along the spine is the Elite residential area. Towards the west is the zone
of maturity, and on the outskirts of town is the peripheral squatter settlements.