"Modern Cities Have No Order".

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Amanda Teefey Lee

“Modern Cities Have No Order”

        It may be the case that ‘modern cities have no order’, but it is unfair to generalize this statement to every city. Most cities, in fact, appear to have some order, and so to claim that modern cities have no order is untrue. Each individual city is different, and so, whether or not cities have order or not, this broad statement is incorrect.

        It is clear that cities in the MEDW have some order, as most cities follow a certain urban land use model. One of those models is the Burgess Urban Land Use Model, created in 1925, which divides cities in a set of concentric circles expanding from the downtown to the suburbs. Burgess based his model on a number of American cities, the main one being Chicago, for which evidence was provided. It illustrates a link between the socio-economic status of households and the distance from the central business district. It states that the quality of housing increases with distance from the central business district, which therefore means a longer commuting time. This is a mono-centric model, and it means a city can be divided into six zones:

                                Zone 1: CBD

                Zone 2: Mainly industrial activities

Zone 3: reconverted to expanding manufacturing/ industrial  


        Zone 4: Residential zone – working class

        Zone 5: Residential zone – higher quality housing

        Zone 6: Mainly high class, expensive housing.


In most cities Zone 1 is where most of the tertiary employment is located and where the urban transport infrastructure joins, making it the most accessible zone. Applying this to London, it is clear that the infrastructure makes it very accessible, with both motorways and railways running in, out and around London. Zone 2 takes advantage of the close labor and markets, and Zone 3 contains the poorest segment of the population, with the lowest housing conditions. Zone 4 is located relatively near the major zones of employment (1 and 2) and so is a low cost location for the working class, whereas Zone 5 has higher commuting costs. Lastly, Zone 6 is the more rural, suburbanized area with even higher commuting costs.

Many MEDC cities follow this general pattern, but it is clear that the order of cities is not as clear cut as this. Therefore other models have been proposed to try and define a general land use model of a city. Hoyt’s model, created in 1939, illustrates that the land use pattern was not a random distribution, but more like sectors. The effect of direction was added to the effect of distance, leading to the model looking like the one shown below. Communication axes, such as rail lines and major roads are mainly the cause of sectors being created, as cities would grow along major axis. Hoyt’s model is similar to Burgess as it also consists of concentric transitional processes.

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1: CBD

                                                2:Wholesale and light manufacturing

                                                3: Low-class residential

                                                4: Middle-class residential

                                                5: High-class residential

        Amanda Teefey Lee

Most MEDW cities follow the general pattern of these two models. Therefore it is clear that they have a general order to their structure, with a pattern of land uses, as well as an identifiable structure. Areas within a city can be categorized into different sections, which shows that the structure of the city is significant, and ordered. However, it is important to remember that the models were based on American cities, and so it is difficult to ...

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