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Urban geography &

History of cities
Importance of cities

In2002, the combined output of the top

10 metros ($2.6 trillion) exceeded the
combined output of 31 states ($2.5 tn.)
NY metro will qualify as the 14 th largest
economy of the world
LA/Long Beach will be the 16th.
Metropolitan Areas and the
National Economy
a state, a single metropolitan area
may dominate the states economy
16 metro areas account for more than 50% of
the output in the states where they are located
Phoenix-Mesa provides more than
70% of Arizonas output and employment
In Oregon (2002, in billion dollars)
Corvallis, OR $2.66 (2.1%)
Eugene-Springfield, OR $11.20 (8.8 %)
Medford-Ashland, OR $5.49 (4.3 %)
Portland-Vancouver, OR-WA $67.70 (53.4 %)
Salem, OR $10.42 (8.2 %)
Sum of Metro Areas $97.47 (76.9 %)
What is urban?
Definition depends on the country
No universal definition of urban, city,
metropolitan area
In the US, the Census Bureau defines these
These definitions also change over time
Many urban geographies
There is no one approach to studying urban spaces
Analytical approach
Build models and analyze data
Spatial analysis with a focus on how individuals make spatial decisions
With their interest in contradictions, the focus here is spatial
Urban cultural geography
Largely anti-spatial analysis
Recognize that there is no one way to interpret space
In this class, we do not have any one way
A Basic Question:
Why cities?
Cities exist for many reasons
Collective need for defense
Sacred site
centers for religious practices
Humans are social animals
we seek the company of others
The most compelling modern reason?
Markets and Cities

Market is nothing but


These two parties negotiate a price

and buy/sell a widget
Cities provide the physical space for
the transaction to occur
Settled agriculture a necessary but not a
sufficient condition
Civilization a precondition
Ecological settings
Fertile areas, access to transport and resources
Related to food production, transport, storage
Also in terms of infrastructure, defense,
Social organization and power
Early Settlements
Iraq is pretty
much where the
first cities grew
The word
'Mesopotamia' is
in origin a Greek
name (mesos
'middle' and
potamos 'river', so
'land between the
The Fertile Crescent
Jericho, which
is in the middle
of the Israel-
issues, is an
OLD city
May be as
much as 9,000
years old!
The Indus Valley
and Harappa
were major
from about
2500 BC to
1500 BC
The Nile Valley
The Egyptian
from about
3500 BC
The pyramids
of Giza built at
about 2500
Why cities emerged?
Agricultural surplus
If not a real surplus then
extraction by force
Tithing, taxation, corvee labor
Controlled by authorities in
The importance of a temple
Emergence of a priestly class
and theocracy
Trading requirements
Growth of complex
Growth of trade
The importance of the
agora in the Greek
The Indus Valley cities
appear to have focused
on trade
Diffusion of Urbanization
The transition to iron led to better tools
Higher productivity
Transportation improvements
Increased the area of transport coverage
Growth of empires led to greater urbanization
Sumerian Cities
Indus Valley cities
A big difference is in the
manner in which the cities
appear to have been
As against a natural
organic city
No evidence of wall
around the city
Houses with bathrooms
that drained into a sewer
Best illustrated in Sumerian and Greek civilizations
And later in Italy
A city was a political unit as well
Extract surplus from the hinterland
Size of city limited to the surplus
The city-state was a part of a larger sovereign
Something like the federal structure the US has
These city-states then later consolidated into kingdoms
and countries
Empires and Cities
Roman, Han, Islamic
All associated with large cities
Were headquarters for the elite
Very large hinterlands
Large area for extraction of surplus grains
Better agri tech
Higher productivity as well as more land area
Better transport systems
Extensive use of cheaper water transport
Impact of Rome
Modern cities have a lot of the Greco-Roman influence
Early cities in Athens, Sparta,
Rome was the first city in the world with a million people
Massive expansion of the Roman Empire also spread the
Roman urban form
Chester is derived from the Latin word Castra
Which means a camp or a fort
Roman colonies and settlements in England have variations of
Lancaster, Manchester, Worcester,
Roman Cities
Cities with the Roman
influence also had
streets in a grid like
With an identifiable
All roads lead to
European Cities
Remember that during
Europes Dark Ages, there
were flourishing
civilizations in Asia
Islamic conquerors came to
Europe across from Africa
as well as through Turkey
In Europe, a re-awakening
particularly in Venice,
Florence, Milan, Genoa
As these cities grew (in
economic terms) they also
became powerful city-states
and quite independent
Northern Europe
Formation of the
Hanseatic League
Towns along the Baltic
and North Seas
established a trade pact
Not a political union
Similar to NAFTA
Was a prototype for the
EU, about 750 years
Spatial Form
The new city was centered around a
Focus of activity on ports and waterways
Venice became an extremely influential city
Population separated based on occupations
(guilds) or identity
Impacts of Industrial Revolutions
Large scale flow of people from rural to urban
London was the second city in the world to exceed
one million population
A formal separation of workplaces and
Production at a large scale factory instead of at or
close to home
Separation of rich from poor as well
Modern Urbanization
Industrialization accelerated urbanization
Increasing labor productivity in agriculture meant
that there was surplus labor
The surplus labor found better jobs in cities
Agriculture was productive to feed the population
even though the # of labor was less
Now, more than half the worlds population
lives in cities
Copyright The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.

Trends in World Urbanization

Estimates and projections from Population Reference Bureau and other sources.
Copyright The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.

Past and Projected Population Growth

Redrawn from Population Bulletin 53, no. 1, Fig. 3, p. 12 (Population Reference Bureau, 1998).
Postmodern City
Is Los Angeles the future?
Remember the movie, Blade Runner?