Unit 7: Cities and Urban Land Use

From the College Board: (emphasis mine)

The course divides urban geography into two subfields. The first is the study of systems of cities, focusing on the location of cities and why cities are where they are. This study involves an examination of such topics as the current and historical distribution of cities; the political, economic, and cultural functions of cities; reasons for differential growth among cities; and types of transportation and communication linkages among cities. Theories of settlement geography, such as Christaller's central place theory, the rank-size rule, and the gravity model, are introduced. Quantitative information on such topics as population growth, migration, zones of influences, and employment is used to analyzed changes in the urban hierarchy.

The second subfield of urban geography focuses on the form, internal structure, and landscapes of cities and emphasizes what cities are like as places to live and work. Students are introduced to topics such as the analysis of patterns of urban land use, ethnic segregation, types of intracity transportation, architectural traditions (e.g., neoclassical, modern, and postmodern), cycles of uneven development, and environmental justice (e.g., the disproportionate location of polluting industries and brown fields in low-income or minority residential areas). Students' understanding of cities as places is enhanced by both quantitative data from censuses and qualitative information from narrative accounts and field studies. Students also learn about and apply models of internal city structure and development in the United States and Canada (e.g., Burgess concentric zone model, Hoyt sector model, Harris-Ullman multiple nuclei model, and galactic city model), examine the strengths and weaknesses of these models, and compare and contrast the models with the internal structure of cities outside North America.

Topics such as systems, housing finance, culture, architectural history, government policies, and innovations in transportation can be useful in the analysis of spatial patterns of urban landscapes. Although much of the literature in urban geography focuses on the cities of North America, comparative urbanization is an increasingly important topic. The study of cities worldwide illustrates how differing economic systems and cultural values can lead to variations in the spatial structures of urban landscapes.

Students also examine current trends in urban development, such as the emergence of edge cities, new urbanism, transit-oriented development, smart growth, and the gentrification of neighborhoods. In addition, students evaluate sustainable urban-planning design initiatives and community actions, such as bikeways and walkable mixed-use commercial and residential developments, that reduce energy use and protect the environments of cities in the future.

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