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International Handbook of Urban Systems

Studies of Urbanization and Migration in Advanced and Developing Countries

Edited by H. S. Geyer

This authoritative Handbook provides a comprehensive account of migration and economic development throughout the world, in both developed and developing countries. Some of the world’s most experienced researchers in this field look at how population redistribution patterns have impacted on urban development in a wide selection of advanced and developing countries in all the major regions of the world over the past half century.
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Chapter 1: The fundamentals of urban space

H.S Geyer


H. S. Geyer SPATIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CITIES When the maturation of urban systems is studied, as has been done in the case studies in this book, a number of fundamental issues in the relationship between individual towns and cities and their hinterlands needs to be understood. Because this book will also be read by undergraduate students at the entry level, some of the basic concepts will be explained to serve as an introduction to the chapters that follow. According to Gradmann (1916: 427) an urban centre hlfils two important functions: it serves as ‘a centre of its rural surroundings and as the mediator of interaction with the world outside’. The size and importance of the city, according to Wells (1902: 47), are determined by its ‘sphere of influence’. The first relationship in the quotation from Gradmann refers to the urban hinterland or service area, while the other refers to its sphere of influence. Although the two concepts are sometimes treated in the literature as synonyms they are not exactly the same thing. The hinterland or service area of a town or city is something less than its sphere of influence. The service area is the area dominated by a centre while its sphere of influence can penetrate the service areas of other competing centres. The closest analogy one can find between a centre’s hinterland and its sphere of influence lies in Christaller’s (1966: 60) distinction between what he terms the ‘real’ or ‘relative’ limit of the range of a good...

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