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DISTRIBUTION OF URBANIZED AREAS
DISTRIBUTION OF URBANIZED AREAS
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT
Most urban centers begin in the downtown region called the central business district (CBD). The CBD tends to be the node or of transportation networks along with commercial property, banking, journalism, and judicial departments like City Hall, courts, and libraries. Because of high competition and limited space, property values for commercial and private ownership tend to be at a premium. CBDs also tend to use land above and below ground in the form of subways, underground malls, and high rises. Sports facilities and convention centers also tend to be dominating forces in CBDs.
URBAN GROWTH MODELS
Urban planning is a sub-field of geography and until recently was part of geography departments in academia. An urban planner is someone trained in multiple theories of urban development along with developing ways to minimize traffic, decrease environmental pollution, and build sustainable cities. Urban planners, sociologists, along with geographers have come up with three models to demonstrate and explain how cities grow.
The first model is called the concentric zone model, which states that cities have the ability to develop in five concentric rings. The inner zone of the cities tends to be the CBD, followed by a second ring that tends to the zone of transition between the first and third rings. In this transition zone, the land tends to be used by industry or low quality housing. The third ring is called the zone of independent workers and tends to be occupied by working-class households. The fourth ring is called the zone of better residences and is dominated by middle-class families. Finally, ring five is called the commuter’s zone, where most people living there have to commute to work every day.
The second model for city development and growth is called the sector model. This model states that cities tend to grow in sectors rather than concentric rings. The idea behind this model is that “like groups” tend to grow in clusters and expand as a cluster. The center of this model is still the CBD. The next sector is called the transportation and industry sector. The third sector is called the low-class residential sector, where lower income households tend to group. The fourth sector is called the middle-class sector and the fifth is the high-class sector.
The third and final urban design is called the multiple nuclei model. In this model, the city is more complex and has more than one CBD. A node could exist for the downtown region, another where a university is situated, and maybe another where an international airport may be. Some clustering does exist in this model because some sectors tend to stay away from other sectors. For example, industry does not tend to develop next to high-income housing.
Determining which urban model fits a particular city is often based on census data.The U.S. Bureau of the Census divides urban areas into census tracts, where each track contains approximately 5,000 residents. Every 10 years, the bureau does a complete count of the country’s individuals and publishes the results. Data includes household incomes, gender, ethnicity, high school completions, and more. This information is not only collected but mapped for spatial analysis. Social scientists use the data and maps to analyze demographic patterns spatially and over time to help understands current and project future social, demographic, and economic trends.
Sociologists, geographers, and urban planners know that no city exactly follows one of the urban models of growth. But the models help us understand broader reason why people live where they do. Higher income households tend to live away from lower income households. Renters and house owners also tend to segregate from each other. In fact, renters tend to live closer to the CBD, whereas home owners tend to live along the outer regions of the city. It should be noted that the three models were developed shortly after World War II and based on U.S. cities; many critics now state that they don’t truly represent modern cities.
An excellent website on urban planning using geospatial technology is called the Urban Observatory. The website provides access to spatial data for cities all around the world and allows you to simultaneously view multiple cities at once. Compare and contrast visualized information for a greater understanding of life in the 21st century.
Open Geography Education by R. Adam Dastrup is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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