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What is Urban Geography?. A sub-discipline of geography It examines the places we live, the structure of our cities, and the pattern of cities on the landscape Topics we ’ ll cover in this unit: The history of urban areas (cities) City placement Primate cities Urban sprawl Smart growth

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what is urban geography
What is Urban Geography?
  • A sub-discipline of geography
  • It examines the places we live, the structure of our cities, and the pattern of cities on the landscape
  • Topics we’ll cover in this unit:
    • The history of urban areas (cities)
    • City placement
    • Primate cities
    • Urban sprawl
    • Smart growth
    • Gentrification
    • Sanitation issues
agricultural villages
Agricultural Villages
  • Agriculture began 10,000 to 12,000 years ago
  • People became more sedentary
  • Before urbanization, people often clustered in agricultural villages
    • Relatively small in size and population
    • Subsistence farming
    • Egalitarian in nature
how cities came to be
How cities came to be:
  • Two components enable the formation of cities:

1. An agricultural surplus

2. Social stratification

(a leadership class)

modern definition of city
Modern Definition of City
  • City - conglomeration of people and buildings clustered together to serve as a center of politics, culture, and economics.
  • Globally, more people live in cities/towns than in rural areas
definition of urban
Definition of Urban
  • Urban:The buildup of the central city and the suburban realm - the city and the surrounding environs connected to the city.
  • Non-rural and non-agricultural
the first urban revolution
The First Urban Revolution
  • The innovation of the city
  • Cities developed independently in 5 separate hearths.
5 hearths of urbanization
5 Hearths of Urbanization
  • Mesopotamia, 3500 BCE
  • Nile River Valley, 3200 BCE
  • Indus River Valley, 2200 BCE
  • Huang He and Wei River Valleys, 1500 BCE
  • Mesoamerica, 200 BCE
the second urban revolution
The Second Urban Revolution
  • A large scale movement of people to cities to work in manufacturing.

Made possible by:

    • Second agricultural revolution that improved food production and created a larger food surplus
    • Industrialization, which encouraged growth of cities near industrial resources
  • Actual location of a settlement on the earth
  • Physical characteristics of landscape specific to area
  • Landforms, climate, vegetation types, availability of water, soil quality, minerals and even wildlife
  • Relative location of a city
  • A city’s place in the region and the world around it.
  • Accessibility of location
  • Extent of connections with another place
  • Distance from raw materials
central place theory
Central Place Theory
  • Developed by German geographer Walter Christaller in 1933
  • Attempts to explain the reasons behind distribution patterns, size and number of cities/towns around world
  • Conclusion: people gather in cities to share goods & ideas - cities exist for purely economic reasons.
trade area
Trade Area
  • Has dominant influence over adjacent areas
  • Largest city has largest trade area
rank size rule
Rank-Size Rule
  • The population of a city or town will be inversely proportionate to its rank in the hierarchy.

For example:

    • 1st largest city = 12 million people;
    • 2nd largest = 6 million (1/2);
    • 3rd largest = 4 million (1/3)
  • Does not apply in all countries, especially countries with a primate city
primate cities what are they
Primate Cities…What are they?

-A city that is disproportionately larger than the rest of the cities in the country.

-They dominate country in influence & are national focal-point

-Size and activity are a strong pull factor

-Not every country has a primate city

-Examples: Paris, London, Mexico City

  • Occurs when individuals buy up and rehabilitate dilapidated housing,
  • Raises housing values & changes neighborhood.
  • Frequently in cities with a tight housing market
  • Displaces lower income residents.
  • Plays a key role in increased homelessness.
  • Examples: San Francisco, Portland, and Chicago
urban sprawl what is it
Urban Sprawl…what is it?
  • Unrestricted growth of housing, commercial developments, and roads over large expanses of land, with little concern for urban planning.
  • Low-density developments beyond the urban center
  • Increasing separation between homes, schools, and places of employment = more driving
  • Outward rather than internal growth
  • Conversion of open spaces, productive agricultural land and parks to developments

-Strip malls

-Big box stores

-Chain restaurants

-Huge intersections

-Numerous housing developments

implications of urban sprawl
Implications of Urban Sprawl
  • Traffic congestion & longer commutes
  • Increase pollution
  • Conversion of natural open spaces to urban areas
  • Degradation of “quality” green space
  • Increased cost of providing utilities, services and infrastructure to a sprawling population
proponents of urban sprawl
Proponents of Urban Sprawl
  • Cheaper land
  • Lower building costs
  • Suburbs better place to raise family
opponents of urban sprawl
Opponents of Urban Sprawl
  • Environmentalists - habitats for plants and animals are lost & air pollution from increased traffic
  • Small towns - Increased taxes after development
      • The Lorax
the solution smart growth
The Solution: Smart Growth
  • Smart Growth is defined as growth that is economically sound, environmentally friendly, and supportive of community livability - growth that enhances our quality of life
  • Smart growth is development that serves the economy, the community and the environment
  • Control sprawl by making better use of land that has already been developed
  • Examples: St. Louis Park and Portland, OR
new urbanism
New Urbanism
  • Development, urban revitalization, and suburban reforms that create walkable neighborhoods

- some are concerned over privatization of public spaces

    • some are concerned that they do nothing to break down the social conditions that create social ills of the cities
    • some believe they work against urban sprawl

Example: Celebration, FL

portland oregon
Portland, Oregon


public transit system

Mixed-use buildings

sanitation crime
Sanitation & Crime
  • Sanitation is a big issue for all urban areas because having lots of people living in close proximity can lead to the spread of disease.
  • Additionally, crime levels can rise along with population density