Emergence Of Urban Life History Essay

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From as far back as 4000 BC there was evidence of city life emerging in countries such as Turkey and Iraq and through time, more countries followed suit with cities emerging in several destinations worldwide. The cities however in Medieval Europe had different criteria than those in the United States or Los Angeles. As Latham et al, (2009), acknowledges the medieval European cities were defined by whether a city wall was constructed and permitted by the local nobility the United States was distinguished by an urban area that controlled powers of self government while Los Angeles or Chicago were made up of incorporated cities, 'cities of cities', (D.Massey, 2005). For the purpose of this essay, the focus will begin with the trends and causes of the growth of cities, which lead to growth of suburbanisation and its consequences this has in terms of ,,,,,,

Urban Growth

Although cities had been long established prior to the Industrial Revolution in the 1800's, it was from the revolution that cities developed sophistication, a complexity in technology, and an economic change with urban growth. With the development of technology concentrations of populations began to leave rural areas as agriculture machinery took over labour positions and clusters emerged around factories and industry. By the 1900's the structure and design of a city was very basic, it consisted of a central city; dense built up area and the suburbs; less dense located outside the legal boundary. Since the first emergence of urbanisation many models have been put forward to describe the trends that developed in urbanisation and sub-urbanisation patterns, with some theories more substantial than others. Latham et al, (2009) citesChristaller, Burgess, Hoyt, Harris and Ullman (year) each argue that 'cities have a discernible internal structure, usually based upon access to markets and a tendency for activity to cluster in central places'Some of the more developed and acknowledged hypothesis will be outlined in the next section of this essay.

Urbanisation resulted in three revolutions, the agricultural, urban and industrial revolution. The shift from rural to urban saw a present day trend where, urban population is world dominated with its populations growing two and a half times faster than rural populations. One of the main characteristics in defining an urbanised area is the size. In 1950 only one mega city existed with a population between 5 and 10 million, in 1990, 12 such cities existed. In the year 2000, Tokyo had a concentration of 27 million people. Each country varies with its criterion for cities and mega cities figures with the United Nations granting the authority and verdict upon each country. Ireland as a small country in Europe has been given the figures of; populations exceeding 1,500 are categorised as cities or large town and areas below that figure are categorised as rural.

According to Wirth (year), the shift from rural to urban has taken place within the span of a single generation in industrialised areas such as the United States and Japan. Over 100 years a large part of the Western world has become urbanised with an increase of thirty fold between 1800 and 1960. Up until the 1950's there continued to be an increase of growth in the city centre, however from the 1950's onwards the trend shifted to the growth of the suburbs.

A trend that can be seen in the largest megacities are their rapid growth, Pacione (2005) notes that 'the average population of the world's largest cities was over 5 million inhabitants in 1990, compared with 2.1 million in 1950, and less than 200,000 in 1800, with the growth seen particularly in the less developed countries'. However, this does not always remain constant as the trends in population differ from the node or city centre to the fringe of the cities. This trend of suburbanisation was particularly evident in advanced countries between 1965 and 1990. Geyer and Kontuly (1993) formulated a theory to explain the pattern seen with large intermediate-size and small cities going through successive periods of fast and slow growth in a cycle of development. Over time a city goes through three phases; primate, intermediate and a small city phase. Source for this.

Primate city phase, the population increases in the dominant city. This phase can be further divided into three sub stages, early, intermediate and late. Mark Jefferson, (1939), believed that a primate city was at least twice as large as the next largest city. An example of a primate city can be seen in Paris (population of 9.6 million while Marseille has a population of 1.3 million) with a population of which is dominant to the country and is the country's national focal point. With the intermediate city phase polarisation reversal is evident and it is at this stage that we can see the development of suburbanisation growing faster than the central city. The final stage in the urbanisation cycle is the small city phase which is a continuation of the intermediate city, until saturation point is reached in urban areas and there is a de-concentralisation of population from urban to rural. After this phase the cycle begins again. This however is not the rule for the trends of development of all suburbanisation zones. According to Garnier (1971) 'Rome was once a city without suburbs. It was almost non-industrialised and grew all at once; the neighbouring countryside devastated by malaria, offered no rural centres from which suburbs might have grown. In order that suburbs may form, a certain expansion of urban life is necessary',

Generally suburbanisation zone expanded from the push of the city outwards. It can be defined by the legal boundaries, the relative density of population and the facilities on terms of distance and cost. The belt of population found in the suburbs however must have a dependent relationship with the city itself.


There are driving forces of suburbanisation, demand factors such as a personal preference to live in the suburbs, lower density living, open space, less traffic, cleaner air or a different style of living. In the south of where? the re-distribution of population was caused with the rise of 'the sunbelt', the argument was that people were moving in search of better climates. By the 1950's 48% of central cities in the US were losing population and a new trend was emerging as the population decline was beginning to spread out.

Two main forms of population decentralisation have been identified. According to Pacione (2005) The first, counterurbanisation or urban deconcentration, which is characterised by net its population movement from metropolitan regions into smaller urban regions and rural areas that lie beyond the primary commuter-sheds of the major cities. The second, suburbanisation, which reflects a long established centrifugal movement of population which progressively has involved a broader range of urban functions than just housing taking place over longer distances, as personal mobility has grown and urban centres have expanded to embrace their previous hinterlands,). In the late 1960's and early 1970's the average out migration from metropolitan cities averaged around 90,000 people per year, (a rate of 0.5%). To understand why there is a shift in population pattern this essay will refer to the Burgees Model, which was based on Chicago in the 1920,s, as seen in figure 1 overleaf

Figure 1, Burgees Model

Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/geography/images/set_005.gif (accessed March 2010)

Burgees proposes that class progression is evident as one moves from the core but it is continuously changing as most immigrants and young footloose people move to the centre initially but as the working class become move successful, they move up the ladder and outward on the model to the middle class, as seen in Germany.

Applying this model to Ireland, focusing on Limerick, each stage will be linked to Limericks contrast between the urban and suburban areas.

Zone A represents the Central Business District (CBD), where the competition for land is high resulting in high sky scraper buildings, large multi stories buildings and high rise apartment blocks, with the main focus on commercial and non basic workers, meeting the needs of cities inhabitants with Banks, accountants and administration offices, that can been seen on O'Connell Street and Henry Street.

The second zone of transition usually tends to house the lower class population and is often subsidised with the interference of city councils and light manufacturing industry. In Limerick the zone of transition reflects high rented accommodation from local authorities, lower educated population and a high percentage of semi skilled and unskilled workforces, Roxboro which held the German household appliance factory until 1998.

The next stage in the concentric zone model shows the working class, blue collar residential are moving towards suburban living. As larger industries are moving out to the fringe of the core due to rental costs, transport and access to interurban transport and motorways (M20 and M7) , the residents are focusing on the concepts of commuting costs and are locating near to these industrial parks. This was most evident in the Raheen Industrial Estate, with companies such as Analog and Dell employing thousands of local employees creating a rapid development in the surrounding residential areas, Dooradoyle, Raheen, Caherdavin. With the development of networking and improved infrastructure cities are connected but also, it provides a peripheral bypass around these cities, 'these peripheral arteries provide access among suburbs and reduce the geographical advantage of a central business district'. This results in developers expanding in the suburbs with offices, corporation buildings and shopping centres creating further jobs for suburban dwellers.

Finally, the middle class and high class housing in the next stage of Burgees zone, represents a personal preference among residents to accommodate for an acquired lifestyle. 'Some people want to live with people like themselves, which causes a clustering called congregation', seen often among the middle class residence. 'Some live together because discrimination forces them to do so. These suffer from segregation from others', Bregman & Renwick (2008). Although segregated schooling was abolished in the 1950's, segregation in housing was rapidly increasing. In the final two zones the standard of housing is much higher as land is less valuable and the residences can avail of more land for value. As the Von Thunem model-Mills Model states, land has no intrinsic value, land used to generate products and the profit of the products holds the value. Where land is of equal value, the only difference is the distance from the centre. Alonso's bid-rent function states that higher income families have the possibility of locating in the suburbs due to the cost of open land and are less constrained than lower income groups to avail of space, tranquillity, cleaner air and a different lifestyle of living examples in Limerick relate to Annacotty and Ennis road.

From this one can conclude that Burgees ecological theory on sub urbanisation has be caused and driven by factors such as competition, dominance, invasion and succession. This theory was later developed and advanced by geographers such as Hoyt, considering distance and direction from the city centre to have an important influence, and Harris and Ullman adapted Burgees concept but believed that urban growth did not extend from one single node but multiple points or nuclei, such as train stations and market areas within the city. All theories however can be connected to the city expansion and the suburbanisation of urban life.

Advances however in technology are retracting the dependency need of the population on the city with virtual shopping and telecommuting, more people can communicate through the comfort of their homes. This also provides many occupations the option of working from home via the use of computer terminals.

Consequences of Suburbanisation

The initial attraction of urbanisation was to escape the hectic over crowded industrialised city life and experience greenness and openness, however due to the urban sprawl, cities spread out and rapidly 'broke their banks' with the loss of agricultural land, as seen in North Dublin. Another problem encountered from suburbanisation was congestion problems as more people were willing to commute long distances to their workplace in order to experience a better quality of family life, which in turn added to the continuous green house effects of carbon pollution. According to Kahn, (2000), in the US 'suburban households drive 31 percent more than their urban counterparts, and western households drive 35 percent more miles than northeastern households'

Initially governments favoured the idea of suburbanisation and offered many tax incentives and a fiscal system as incentives for city dwellers to relocate. But this lead to a fiscal crisis as the city couldn't pay for services that were required on the fringes, such as water supply and footpaths. It also led to a crisis within the retail services. In Ireland during the late 1980's and early 1990's the government intervened as the economy suffered high rates of employment and out migration. The city was being to experience an extensive abandonment that had also been a result in industries moving to Greenfield sites in suburban areas. With the dereliction of one site a ripple effect occurred leaving several buildings vacated bringing about the urban re-newal scheme. Tax breaks were introduced for developers to construct or reconstruct with the core centre and occupiers were offered double trade allowance against trading income to revitalises the city again. Allowances were also available for house purchasers and local authority rates for rented accommodation through the fiscal system providing sites?'. Initially there were five cities targeted, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Dublin and Galway in 1986. In 1995 this figure extended to thirty five areas with Temple bar in Dublin and the Custom House Dock area in Dublin being two of the success stories. Up to 2.2 billion euro's was invested in the scheme and another one billion in the pipeline. The highest investment in the scheme was seen in Limerick.

In 1999 another similar scheme was put in place to address the issues that were not targeted in the first scheme, however it receive a lot of negative criticism as it did not tackle the social economic problems.

Segregation and alienation is another major consequence of suburbanisation as Latham et Al, (2009) acknowledge, 'in the United Kingdom ethnic minorities are concentrated in the inner areas of large cities, as they are in many German cities, in France they are so called 'Banlieue' areas characterised by high levels of poverty and large immigration populations', producing a homogeneous population.

Suburbanization has become a status address to many residences that choose certain locations to fulfill a desire and standard of living suitable to them and their families. In the words of Nobel laureate James Buchanan, (1994)"The romance of socialism, which is dependent both on an idealized politics and a set of impossible behavioral presuppositions, has not yet disappeared."

Suburban life that is often envisaged by people may not always be captured as the desire has been so great that it has become saturated, recreating the original issues that residence were once escaping from. As noted by Putnam, 1970, "when there is such a great discrepancy between ideology and reality, it is usually wise to admit that a concept is outmoded and to begin anew'.