This research will discuss three topics: 1) factors in urban growth; 2) the central business district; and 3) the manufacturing areas in the city. All three of these topics have relevance to factors in city planning and specialization.
Factors in Urban Growth
It wasn’t until the development of settled agriculture, which allowed for the production of a sufficiently large surplus of storable food, that the origin of cities began. A small proportion of the total population was able to be freed from the cares of actual food production and this enabled them to live in urban settlements. As developments in technology increased, the efficiency of food production increased allowing even more people to settle in urban developments. As more of a surplus became available, trade began to develop, with the urban developments becoming the centers for trade and administration. Large cities began to develop on the crossroads of trade routes. Cities were often inhibited in growth by problems of health and sanitation, which were connected with bringing together a substantial population within a limited area, but the most important inhibitor of growth was lack of an adequate transportation system.
The impact of the Industrial Revolution has had the most profound impact on urban growth. The complex technical and economic changes which were the basis of the Industrial Revolution instituted a profound alteration in the size of cities, in the proportion of the people who lived in them, and in the rate of urbanization that was taking place. Fundamental to urban growth were the great improvements in agriculture, which included the change from subsistence agriculture to agriculture aimed at production for sale. New implements were invented, and eventually mechanical power was applied to driving them, thus increasing the output of the individual agricultural worker. The greater productivity of the agricultural worker allowed for more workers to seek employment in the growing cities.
Also fundamental to the growth of the city at this time was the development of improved means of transportation, including the railway and the steamship. These developments increased the effective market for the manufactured goods and hence the scale of industrial production. A further restriction to growth was removed by the improvement of internal transport within the city, which allowed for an increasing separation between the place of work and the place of residence.
The current factors behind urban growth are many. Today, the city offers an attractive location for manufacturing. It provides rapid access to national and international markets. Also important are the external economies that are found in the city. Access to skilled labor, close links with other manufacturers of related products, the availability of ancillary services (such as those provided by advertising agents and wholesalers) all prove attractive to industrialists. Also important is the proportion of the population employed in tertiary occupations which have been associated with rising standards of living. These mainly include the service activities. Crucial to the modern growth of the city has been the impact of the motor transport. Journeys to work and to stores can now extend over longer distances which allow for much greater expansion of the city.
Social factors have also encouraged urban growth. The city is now seen as a cultural center. Improvements in medical techniques, in sanitation, and in the general standard of living, as well as the natural increase in population have all played a part in urban growth and must be provided for in city planning.
Central Business District
The central business district is usually defined as the area of the city where the retailing of goods and services and the performance of various office activities for private profit are completely dominant.
Accessibility is the dominant factor influencing the character of the central business district. This is the section of the city which can be most easily reached from the rest of the built-up area. The central business district is usually in the middle of railroad terminals, rapid transit systems, and near an airport. It is the part of the city most generally accessible to those people who live within a city’s sphere of influence. Accessibility from the whole city and its immediate hinterlands is particularly important for retail outlets, like department stores and chain shops, which depend on serving the very large number of customers most easily brought together in the city center. Accessibility is also important with regard to the professional services found in the central business district. These services require them to be located where they can be reached by as many potential clients as possible. The centers of large cities are also attractive to offices because of the ancillary services which are available there. Much face-to-face contact is made possible between lawyers, accountants, advertising agents, etc., because of the clustering at the city center. Mutual confidence between firms dealing with each other is difficult without this face-to-face contact.
There is great competition for a site in the central business district. As a result, very high land values are found because of this competition. In turn, high land values have strongly influenced the features of the central business district. Most notable is the high intensity of land use, which is shown in the concentration of multi-storied buildings around the areas where values are at a peak. This indicates the attempt to erect the maximum floor space which can legally be done on these valuable central sites.
Many technological advances had to take place before it was possible for the multi-storied building to take place. A fundamental step was taken in Chicago during the 1880s. Iron had been used as a framing material for certain buildings from early in the 19th century, but in 1885, a Chicago architect designed an office block in which the walls had no bearing function at all, but were held up by a framework of iron girders, which carried the full weight of the building. The idea was generally adopted and in 1900, steel was substituted for iron in the frame. The advantages of this new system were great. The weight of the buildings in relation to their bulk was greatly reduced, thus diminishing the problem of providing suitable foundations. Not only were tall buildings made technically possible, they also became economically more worthwhile. The new method of construction brought economy in building materials together with greater speed and efficiency in erection. Other technological advances that became necessary were the elevator, without which the tall buildings could not have functioned efficiently, and in fireproofing the building, which became necessary due to the height of the buildings.
A further characteristic of the central business district is the absence of a residential population and increase of concentration of commercial activities. The demand to move out was due to the rapidly rising land values and thus the rapidly rising taxes. Such enterprises as retail shops and offices were better able to pay for the central sites. This outward movement of the population from the city center has been made possible by improved methods of transport within the city. The people could afford to live out in the residential areas and commute to work or to shop. The auto, though, has also caused problems. The intense concentration of people found in the central business district has caused serious traffic problems. The congestion is a result of the attraction of the center for potential customers and for certain kinds of employment. The car carries few people in relation to the amount of space it takes up, making congestion more severe. There is also the problem of providing unproductive parking space in an area of very high land values. Because of these difficulties, there have been signs that difficulty of travel in the central business district is reducing the attraction since congestion is tending to cancel out the inherent accessibility.
One of the distinctive features of the city center is the degree of internal specialization which is found. The presence of various sub-regions in the central business district is the result of its functioning. Various economic and functional links bind together the land use which characterizes specialized areas. There tend to be financial centers, shopping centers, entertainment centers, etc., since potential purchasers are attracted by the possibility of making an easy comparison. The tendency toward specialization is greatest in those parts of the center which possess the highest land values since the maximum advantage must be derived from a site if it is to be profitable.
Manufacturing concerns are attracted to cities for several major reasons. First is the accessibility to potential customers which the city provides. Most obvious is the concentration of large numbers of people within the large limits of the city, either forming a market for mass-produced goods or providing enough specialized purchasers to support the manufacture of more esoteric products. The presence of other manufacturers to sell to is also important. Finally, cities offer a location with access to international as well as internal markets. Second, industry is attracted to the cities by the various external economies. Many industries depend on the services of independent concerns such as advertising agencies and transport operators which are available in the city. Third, industry is attracted because of the availability of a suitable labor supply, both skilled and unskilled.
There are three main manufacturing areas in the city: 1) areas close to the central business district, 2) suburban manufacturing, and 3) areas dependent upon bulk transport.
Small manufacturing is the typical kind of industry that is found near the city center. Not only are the factories small, but they use little power in their operations. These industries usually depend heavily on the external economies that are found in the center. The manufacturing done must be light due to the high land values and lack of space. Manufacturing such as newspapers, books and clothing are found in this area, where skill in design and production is more important than elaborate machinery or specially built factories. Sub-contracting is usually essential to industry in this area as is providing close links with its customers.
The trend in the 20th century has been for manufacturing to move out into the suburbs. There are two main factors responsible for this move. One was the changing nature of transport, which was altering patterns of accessibility within the city. As the amount of traffic grew, the industrial areas around the city center became increasingly congested, making them less satisfactory locations for those industries which depended on large, regular flows of goods into and out of their factories. The second main factor was the development of mass production techniques, which demanded space for the storage of parts and for the proper layout of machinery, often in single-story factories. The relatively cheap land of the suburbs and the space available there for larger factories were important for the growth of the industry, and with the new forms of transport available, the suburban factory was able to function satisfactorily.
A third type of urban industrial area is located close to harbor installations or some other means of handling bulky materials, such as river banks or canals. These industries are usually organized in large plants and carry out self-contained operations. Industries typical of this area include 1) oil refineries, 2) chemical manufacturers, 3) public utilities, and 4) those that process imported raw materials. All of these industries depend on cheap bulk transport such as a waterway can provide.
In sum, in planning a city or growth of a city, many factors must be taken into account. Included in these must be the factors of urban growth and provision for the growth that is needed. The central business district must be planned out so that the convenience of accessibility is not cancelled out by the inconvenience of traffic congestion. Finally, manufacturing areas have to be provided for in areas where cheap land is available because of the nature of today’s industry and its need for growth.