Urban Geography - Arizona State University

Models of Urban Structure
• Cities exhibit functional structure
– Central business district (CBD)
– Central city
– Suburb
• North American cities?
– 3 models
Louis Wirth
• Urban Settings Have 3 Characteristics:
1. Large size: Won’t know most people living in a
2. High Density: each person has a role essential
for the urban system to function smoothly,
people compete for survival in limited space.
3. Social Heterogeneity:
-people pursue an unusual profession
-people pursue a different sexual orientation
-people pursue cultural interests
Urban Physical Characteristics
1. Legal Boundary: A city is an urban settlement
that has legally been incorporated into an
independent, self-governing unit.
2. Continuously Built up Area: An urbanized area
is a central city plus its contiguous built-up
suburbs, pop exceeds 1000 persons per sq.
3. Functional Area: zone of influence extends beyond legal boundaries
and adjacent built-up jurisdictions
METROPOLITAN STATISITICAL AREA (MSA)-central city with a pop of 50,000
-county within which the city is located
-adjacent counties with a high pop density and a large % of residents
working in the central city.
Smaller urban areas are called MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA
Some MSAs overlap and this is called a megalopolis: BOSWASH
-southern California
-German Ruhr
-southern Great Lakes
-Japan’s Tokaido
-Rabdstad in the Netherlands
4. A city has more functional specialization than a town and
a larger hinterland and greater centrality.
- a well-defined commercial center
-a central business district
-suburbs (subsidiary urban areas surrounding and
connected to the central city.) Many suburbs are residential
but some have their own commercial centers or shopping
Concentric Zone Model: A city grows outward from a central area in a
series of concentric rings
Use census tracts, 5,000 people in neighborhood boundaries. These
tell us where people tend to lives.
• E.W. Burgess
1. non-residential
2. Industry & poorer
quality housing
(immigrants new to the
city live here 1st)
3. Stable working class
4. Middle class
Sector Model: Homer Hoyt
A city grows in a series
of sectors. Certain
areas are more
attractive to certain
activities, by
environmental factors,
or by chance. As a
city grows, activities
expand in sectors out
from the CBD.
Industrial and retailing
are in sectors by good
transportation lines.
Multiple Nuclei: C.D. Harris and E.L. Ulman
A city is a complex structure
that includes more than
one center around which
activities revolve.
Some activities are attracted
to particular nodes while
others avoid them.
Ex: Airport=hotels &
Ex: University=well-educated
residents, book stores and
pizza joints.
Modeling the North American City
• Urban realms
• Early post-war period, reduced
interaction between the central city and
suburban cities
• Outer cities became more self-sufficient
Models of Urban Structure
• Outer city growth since 1960s
• By 1973, American suburbs surpassed
central cities in total employment
• Outer cities = “edge cities”
– Equal partners in city shaping processes
a. Industrial factories and complexes
b. Hotels
c. Amusement parks
d. Malls
Tyson’s Corner
Modeling the Modern
Latin American City
• Law of the Indies
• Latin American cities
were designed after
European cities,
explorers came from
Portugal and Spain
• Centered on a church
and central plaza
Squatter Cities
Characteristics of Squatter
• Housing materials are
collected from available
resources: corrugated tin
• Little sanitation
• No running water
• No Cooking facilities
• Illegal hookup to
electricity, if any
• No political voice
• Lack of social services
Spatial distribution of Squatter
• On the periphery of
the cities in LDCs
around the world.
• In Europe and Latin
America the rich
choose to live in the
culturally-rich inner
city, the opposite is
sometimes true in
North American cities
Ted Talks on Squatter Cities
Modeling the Modern
Southeast Asian City
Modeling the Modern
Subsaharan African City
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