Urban Structure Models

Key Question: What models deal with the internal structure of urban areas and how do geographers use them to explain where different people are distributed in urban areas?

(Where are People Distributed within Urban Areas?)

There are three models that geographers use to explain where different people are distributed in urban areas.

These models were developed by sociologists, economists, and geographers to describe the internal social structure of the city of Chicago.

Chicago provided a seemingly perfect city to examine because of it doesn’t have any physical features like mountains that change how the city has developed.  Because of this, geographers felt they could best apply the model to Chicago to examine its natural growth.

Here is a diagram of the 3 models:

  • Concentric Zone Model – created by E.W. Burgess.
    • City grows outward from the CBD in a series of rings
    • Inner circle is the CBD (non-residential activities like office and retail)
    • Second Ring – zone of transition – industry and poorer quality housing
    • Third ring – zone of working-class homes  - modest older houses occupied by stable, working-class families.
    • Fourth ring – newer more spacious homes – middle class families.
    • Fifth ring – commuter zone – this is the area beyond the city.  These people typically commute into the city.
    • criticism of concentric zone model -
  • Sector Model – a.k.a. the Hoyt model
    • city develops in a series of sectors
  • Multiple Nuclei Model
    • city is complex structure that has more than one center of activity

Specific Example:

Concentric Zone – Chicago

Sector Model – Baltimore

Multiple Nuclei – L.A.

Urban structure models relate to the issues that cities face.  The models reflect the layout of higher-rent and lower-rent housing, which is related to the groups of people that live there.  Low income families typically tend to live in the city due to the cost of houses in the periphery and the need to live close to work.  This is represented in the models.  Moreover, recent trends in urban renewal have challenged the applicability of these models to urban centers, as urban renewals drive up the cost of housing.

Links for more info:

1. http://www.main-vision.com/richard/modelsof.htm

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentric_zone_model

3. http://www.scribd.com/doc/14773028/Urban-Structure-Zonal-Characteristics

4. http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/mcfadden/GGS12/Urbanization%20Unit/theories_urban_structure.htm

5. http://alain-bertaud.com/

6. http://teacherweb.ftl.pinecrest.edu/snyderd/MWH/readings/Urban/Urban2.pdf