Urban Models

This Geography quiz takes a look at urban models. Cities are large complex places so geographers use models to help them study urbanisation. A model is a simplification of reality and is used to help with spotting and explaining patterns. At GCSE level, the two urban models you will have been taught are the Burgess (concentric zone model) and the Hoyt model.

The Burgess model was developed in the 1920s to help with social studies of the American city of Chicago. It divided the city into zones by using concentric circles (circles with their centres at the same point). He identified five different zones of land use within Chicago. When this was tried out on other cities in the US, it seemed to work for those too.

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The first zone is right at the centre of the city and is normally the oldest part and has the highest land values. It is called the CBD which stands for the 'central business district'. This contains the major offices, shops and entertainment centres. Around this lie the other zones, the industrial zone where there are factories, warehouses and smaller industrial units. The next zone is the working class housing, built at about the same time as the industry developed so that the workforce was readily available. The fourth zone is where the middle class housing lies and is effectively what is sometimes called 'suburbia' and furthest from the CBD is the commuter belt where the most affluent population live. No model is perfect so it is possible to find working class housing in the industrial zone or a factory in the middle class housing zone.

The Burgess urban model worked well for American cities in the 1920s but not for European cities in more recent times. Mass car ownership and changes in working and housing choices have changed the nature of urban areas. Every city is different so a better model was needed. This lead to the development of the Hoyt model. This is more realistic as it combines sectors and segments of circles in order to more accurately represent a city.

These models can be applied to cities in LEDCs as well, but with some modifications. Often, rural to urban migration has taken place which gives rise to the development of 'shanty towns' springing up on the urban fringe. Shanty towns are constructed illegally from whatever materials are to hand - plastic, sheets of metal, wooden palettes and so on. In South American towns like Rio or Sao Paulo, they are called 'favelas'.

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  1. Which of the following is the most likely to be different when drawing an urban model of a city in an LEDC?
    Cities in LEDCs attract migrants from rural areas who cannot afford proper housing and settle around the outskirts of the city
  2. Which of the following is least likely to be found in the urban rural fringe of a city?
    Businesses make the most of the land in a CBD by building upwards, this is not so important in urban fringes
  3. The Hoyt urban model was developed because the Burgess model was becoming less useful. Which of the following is not a reason that geographers needed a new urban model?
    The Burgess model did not allow for the development of industry or housing along the main roads, rivers flowing through cities or development alongside railways
  4. Which of the following types of house would you be most likely to find in a typical UK inner city?
    Inner city industrial brownfield sites are sometimes developed to provide modern homes but you are a lot more likely to find the Victorian terraced houses that were built to house the workforce of local factories
  5. Which of the following best describes the Burgess urban model?
    The Burgess model was developed in the 1920s to look at the US city of Chicago
  6. How does the Hoyt urban model differ from the Burgess model?
    This approach creates zones radiating out from the CBD on the model
  7. Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of a CBD?
    Land in CBDs is usually too expensive for individuals to buy
  8. Which of the following statements about cities in MEDCs is NOT usually true?
    Cities usually grow outwards from the original settlement
  9. What is the first zone on both the Burgess and Hoyt urban models called?
    This is abbreviated to CBD
  10. There are differences between the development of cities in poorer and richer countries. Which of the following is not correct?
    The high-class housing of LEDC cities often extends along a main road from the CBD to the suburbs and consists of colonial houses with servant accommodation

Author: Kev Woodward

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