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Urbanisation. The Growth of Towns & Cities. What does Urbanisation Mean?. Until about 200 years ago, most people lived a rural life. They lived and worked the land in the countryside. However, during the Industrial Revolution many people moved off the land and

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Urbanisation l.jpg


The Growth of Towns & Cities

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What does Urbanisation Mean?

Until about 200 years ago, most people lived a rural life. They lived and worked

the land in the countryside.

However, during the Industrial Revolution many people moved off the land and

into growing towns and cities. Factories became important places of

employment, so people moved to cities in search of work.

This led to a huge growth in the size and number of towns and cities.

This growth in the size and number of cities is called Urbanisation.

Urbanisation is continuing throughout the world. New cities are growing all the

time as more and more people leave their rural lives behind and move into

cities in search of work.

In essence, a rural to urban shift is taking place.

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The Growth of Dublin

  • Like all cities throughout the world, Dublin has grown over a long period of time. We will now examine some different stages in Dublin’s growth.

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The Growth of Dublin

Viking Dublin

Dublin began as a Viking settlement. Like many other Viking settlements,

Dublin was an ideal place at the mouth of a river. From here the Vikings could


The Anglo-Normans

The Normans occupied Dublin in 1169. They built stone walls around the city.

Dublin became a Medieval city with narrow streets. Poor sanitation caused

many deaths.

The 16th-18th Centuries

Dublin was extended and many new streets were added in a grid-iron pattern.

Parks like St. Stephen’s Green were made and Georgian Houses were built.

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Georgian Houses

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The Growth of Dublin

The 19th Century

After 1800 many of the wealthy people who lived in the Georgian houses left

Dublin. Landlords bought these tenements and rented rooms to families. There

was huge overcrowding in these tenement buildings and poverty and disease

were widespread. The Dublin docklands became an important source of work.

Dublin became a distribution centre. Goods were distributed throughout Ireland

along the canal and railway lines.

The 20th Century

Dublin grew rapidly in the 20th century. The inner city slums were cleared and

people moved out to new suburbs like Ballyfermot, Crumlin, and Finglas.

Newer suburbs were then developed around the villages of Clondalkin, Lucan

and Tallaght.

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Functional Zones in Cities

  • If we look at the pattern of most cities in the world, we can see that there are a number of different zones.

  • Each of these zones has a different function or use.

    The following zones can be seen in most cities;

    1. A Central Business District (CBD)

    2. Some smaller shopping areas

    3. A number of shopping centres

    4. Industrial areas

    5. Open space for recreation / leisure.

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The Central Business District (CBD)

  • The centre of every city has a CBD.

  • This is where the big banks, office buildings, and department stores are. These buildings are usually multi-storeyed buildings.

    Q. Where is the CBD in Dublin?

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Some Smaller Shopping Areas

  • Around the outskirts of the city there will be small little village centres where people can do their day-to-day shopping.

  • These small areas allow people to access of all the services they need without having to go into the city centre.

    Q. Clondalkin village is an example of a small shopping area. Can you think of any others?

    Q. What services are available for people in Clondalkin village?

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Shopping Centres

  • In most of the suburbs of Dublin city there are shopping centres.

    Q. Can you name any?

    Blanchardstown Shopping Centre – Blanchardstown

    The Square – Tallaght

    Dundrum Shopping Centre – Dundrum

    Liffey Valley – Clondalkin/Lucan

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Industrial Areas

  • Since the Industrial Revolution, cities have been important industrial areas. Many goods are manufactured in the factories of these cities.

  • For e.g., Detroit, Michigan is nicknamed Motor City because it is where many American car companies built their cars.

  • Port cities often have industries such as oil refining (Rotterdam), or chemical factories (Cork).

  • There are many industrial estates in the suburbs around the cities. Footloose industries are attracted to these areas.

    Q. Can you name any industrial estates/technology parks around Dublin?

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Space for Recreation/Leisure

  • All cities need space for children to play and for people to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

  • Dublin has parks like the Phoenix Park and St Stephen’s Green. There are also many parks in the suburban areas surrounding Dublin.

    Q. Corkagh park is one example. Can you name any others?

    Q. Can you think of any other areas/places that are used for leisure and recreation?

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Functional Zones in Cities

  • Fig.9.2 shows some of the main zones which can be found in most cities around the world.

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Land Use in Cities

  • Land gets less valuable as you move out from the CBD.

  • Buildings get smaller as you move out from the CBD.

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Land Use in Cities

  • Land is very valuable in the city centre. It is very expensive to buy a site to build on. Therefore most buildings in the city centre are multi-storey buildings. Rents are high for retailers in the city centre, but they have many customers and so they can afford these rents.

    Q. What type of retailers set up in city centre locations?

    In the suburbs there is much more land available. Most buildings are one or two storeys high.

    Q. What type of retailers set up in suburban areas?

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Residential Accommodation in our Cities

  • People live in many different types of buildings.

    Q. Make a list of all the different types of buildings people live in.

  • Apartments

  • Flats

  • Semi-Detached Houses

  • Detached Houses

  • Terraced Houses

  • Bungalows

  • Georgian Houses

    Q. Where are you most likely to find each type of house, the city or the suburbs?

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Commuting to work in Cities

  • Many people work in shops and offices in the city centre.

  • However, many of these people live in the suburbs surrounding the city.

  • Many more people live further away in the counties surrounding Dublin.

  • These people must travel (commute) to work each day.

  • People who travel to work are called commuters.

    Q. How do these people get to work?

    Q. Can you think of any problems commuting can create?

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Commuting to work

The table below shows the different methods of transport used by Dublin


Mode of TransportPercentage %

Buses 29%

Cars/Vans/trucks 46%

Bikes 3%

Motorbikes 1%

Walking 9%

Train 12%

Q. Draw a pie chart to represent the information shown in the table.

Q. Which method of transport do most people use?

Q. What problems could this cause?

Q. What could be done to encourage more people to commute on their bikes?

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Rush-hour Traffic

Q. What does rush-hour traffic mean?

Q. At what times does rush-hour traffic occur?

Q. Why do you think it occurs at this time?

Q. Can you think of any ways to solve this problem?

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Traffic Congestion

Q. Travel time to the city centre has increased in recent years. True or False?

Q. Why do you think this is?

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Solutions to Traffic Congestion

  • It has been proved in cities all over the world that building more roads does not solve the problem of traffic congestion in cities.

  • The best way to solve the problem is by encouraging people to use public transport.

  • Q. What is public transport?

  • Q. What types of public transport exist?

  • Q. What types of public transport do we have in Dublin?

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  • Buses can carry up to 80 people.

  • If more people used buses it would take many cars off the roads each day.

  • They can get to the city centre much quicker than cars because they can use Quality Bus Corridors (QBC’s).

  • There has been a big increase in the number of QBC’s in Dublin in recent years.

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Light Rail

  • The DART is an example of a light rail system.

  • It is a very successful network. Many people travel to work each day using the DART.

  • The DART line runs through many areas along the coastline of Dublin.

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The Luas

  • The Luas is a Tram system.

  • This type of public transport is very popular in many European cities.

  • It is a fast and efficient method of transport.

  • Dublin’s Luas has been extremely popular with commuters.

    Q. Looking at Fig.9.8, can you identify any problem with the current Luas network?

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Urban Problems

  • Cities can be great places to live. There are lots of activities to do.

  • Q. List some things which can be done in the city and not in rural areas.

  • However, there are many problems to be found in cities.

  • Q. Can you list some problems which may exist in cities?

  • A number of important problems exist. These are;

  • 1. Zones of Decline

  • 2. Unemployment

  • 3. Crime

  • 4. Community disruption

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Urban Problems

Zones of Decline

Many places in the city centre are derelict sites. While many have been

redeveloped in recent years, there are still many run down buildings. These

buildings may be occupied by homeless people and drug addicts.


In the past there were many jobs available in city centres in small factories.

However, most of these factories have moved out to industrial estates in the

suburbs. Most jobs in the city centre are now skilled jobs requiring university

level education. In 2002, only 62% of children in Dublin city sat the Leaving

Certificate. Therefore many of them cannot find work in the city.

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Urban Problems


Crime is a big problem in many

inner city areas. A lot of crime is

drug related.

People steal money and goods

from shops and people to pay for

their drugs.

The highest crime figures in Ireland

are in Dublin city centre.

Q. Why do you think this is?

Q. What could be done to try to solve this problem?

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Urban Problems

Community Disruption

Since the 1960’s many people born in the city centre have had to move

to the new growing suburbs such as Ballymun, Tallaght, and Clondalkin.

This has left some young people disconnected from their families who

remain in the city centre. This can leave people feeling isolated.

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Improving Urban Areas

  • In many countries, governments have attempted to improve urban areas.

  • There are two main ways to do this. They are;

  • Inner-city renewal and redevelopment.

  • The planning of new towns.

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Urban Renewal and Redevelopment

Urban Renewal

This means knocking down old houses/flats and building new places for

people to live.

Urban Redevelopment

This means knocking down old houses/flats and buildings shops,

offices, restaurants or car parks.

Q. Can you name any place in Dublin where urban renewal has occurred?

Q. Can you name any place in Dublin where urban redevelopment has occurred?

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The Planning of New Towns

Tallaght Town

  • Tallaght was chosen as a location for a new town in the 1960’s.

  • It has developed into an important residential, commercial and industrial area.

  • It now has many facilities including a hospital, shopping centre, the county library, Tallaght IT, and many industrial estates.

  • It is connected to the city centre by the Luas.

  • Tallaght is continuously growing and it will soon become a city in its own right.

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The Planning of New Towns

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The Planning of New Towns


  • Adamstown is the latest new town to be built in Ireland.

  • It is the result of a completely new way of planning in Ireland.

  • The 10,000 houses/apartments are high-density developments.

  • There is a railway station giving direct access to the city centre.

  • Schools, shops, and leisure facilities have been built for the people.

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Urbanisation in the Developing World

  • Urbanisation is happening rapidly in many parts of the developing world.

  • People are being ‘pushed’ from rural areas and ‘pulled’ toward the cities.

  • Every year more and more people arrive to these growing cities in search of a better life for themselves and their children.

  • However, this rapid urbanisation is causing many problems.

    Q. Can you think of any problems that are occurring in cities in the developing world?

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Cities in the Developing World

  • Cities in the developing world are different to cities in rich countries.

  • In the CBD there are expensive shops, restaurants, and high-quality houses and apartments. The rich people live here.

  • As you move away from the CBD the quality of the houses decreases.

  • At the edge of the city are the shanty towns. This is where the poorest people live.

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Life in the Shanty Towns

  • The houses in the shanty towns are built by the people themselves. They are usually made with pieces of wood, plastic, and metal sheeting.

  • The people are extremely poor. They have poor sanitation and little access to medical care.

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Revision Questions - Urbanisation

  • Define the term Urbanisation.

  • Define the term ‘rural to urban shift’.

  • List 5 functional zones found in most cities.

  • What is the CBD? Explain what type of buildings are in a CBD and why.

  • Explain how land is used as you move from the CBD to the edge of a city.

  • What is a commuter?

  • Explain in detail why commuting in the Greater Dublin Region is a problem.

  • What does the term ‘rush hour’ mean?

  • Explain what traffic congestion is. Why is traffic congestion a problem?

  • Explain 3 ways that the government have tried to reduce traffic congestion in Dublin.

  • Define the terms ‘Urban Renewal’ and ‘Urban Redevelopment’.

  • Make a list of push and pull factors for urbanisation in the developing world.

  • What is a Shanty Town?

  • Describe in detail what is meant by the term ‘Social Capital’.

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Sections completed this year

  • Map & Settlement – 50 marks

  • The Atmosphere – 60 marks

  • Soils – 20 marks

  • Climate – 50 marks

  • Population – 60 marks

  • Urbanisation – 60 marks

  • Total Marks300 MARKS

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Sample Exam Answers

  • Choose two Irish soil types that you have studied.

    (i). List the two soil types.

    (ii). Explain two ways that the two soil types are different.


    Two Irish soil types are, a). Brown Soilsb). Podzol Soils

    Two differences between them are,

    Brown soils form under deciduous forests. They are fertile.

    Podzol soils form under coniferous forests. They are infertile.

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Sample Exam Answers

  • Explain in detail how Altitude can affect the climate of an area.

    Altitude means height above sea level. It affects climate in the following way.

    The higher you go, the colder it gets. The temperature drops 7°C for every

    1000m you go up. There are two reasons for this.

    a). The air is thinner and can hold less heat.

    b). You are more exposed to the wind. This is called the wind chill factor.

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Sample Exam Answers

Explain in detail 2 reasons why the population of Navan increased

from 4,000 people in 1971 to 26,000 in 2006.

Two reasons why Navan’s population increased were;

  • In the 1970’s Navan became a resource-based settlement when lead and zinc were discovered. The largest lead and zinc mine in Europe was opened there. Many people moved there to avail of the new jobs in the mine. Other businesses developed and prospered which attracted even more people.

  • In the late 1990’s Navan developed a residential function. Many young people who work in Dublin live in Navan. They bought houses there because property in Dublin was too expensive. They commute to Dublin each day to work.

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Sample Exam Answers

Explain in detail why there are so few people aged 70+ years in


There are so few people aged 70+ in Ethiopia because,

It is a poor country where many people have no access to safe drinking

water. There are many people who don’t have access to the health

system and so they are often sick. Ethiopia experiences frequent food

shortages and famine. Ethiopia has been involved in a war against

Eritrea for many years. All of these reasons mean that many people die

young, and very few people in Ethiopia live until their old age.

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Sample Exam Answers

What does the term ‘Social Capital’ mean? How is it affected by


Social capital means the wealth of social connections and community

activity that take place in an area. Some communities have lots of

people who volunteer to run activities and clubs for old people and

teenagers. They have lots of clubs for various sports which the parents

help to organise and coach. They may also be involved in residents

associations, tidy towns committees, or environmental groups. These

communities would have a high level of social capital.

Social Capital is harmed by commuting because commuters spend less time in

their communities. They spend lots of time stuck in traffic, driving long

distances to work. Therefore, they are often tired when they get home and have

less time/motivation for voluntary activities.

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