GGRA03H3 – Week 2
Why is History Important?
1. Understanding Why
2. Understanding long-term patterns
a. Urban systems are built incrementally on prior systems
3. Cities are code-generated
a. Historical analysis of urban form, growth, development, and change is key to
understanding urban rules.
4. Cities are an expression of values.
a. Analysis of how cities change over time allows understanding of the civilizations
that give rise to them.
b. What you do, not just what you say.
Key Concept 1
- Cities provide a detailed record of urban values, ideas and choices.
- Contemporary urban systems, structures, and infrastructures, are built incrementally on
- Cities provide evidence of past decisions, in great detail.
When, where, and why did cities emerge?
- Which of the Competing Theories of Urban Origins is most convincing?
a) Hydraulic Theory
b) Economic Theory
c) Military Theory
d) Religious Theories
- Control over Water is essential.
- Irrigation systems require a governance system that can mobilize large investments.
- Early cities were almost always established at key locations on rivers. - Rural patterns of land use, irrigation systems, canals, etc. then have long-term impacts
on urban pattern.
- Suggest that economic factors are the most important urban development – ports, raw
materials, rich hinterland, energy sources, transport
o E.g. William Croon (1991) “Nature’s Metropolis”
- Rapid growth of Chicago in the 19 Century as a process of economic development of a
- Settlements established at military-strategic locations form the core of long-term
- Military pattern remains influential long after strategic value of settlement is gone.
- Original pattern has a long lasting legacy.
o Glacis – The fort to “shoot down invaders”.
o Buildings and other construction was prohibited in the Glacis due to possible
shelters invaders could take advantage of.
o Stone walls were basically useless because cannons would void the walls.
- Centres that are important for religious reasons are the starting point for many cities
globally, of which one of the most famous is Jerusalem.
o Jerusalem – Seen as a sacred site.
- Also Mecca, Roma, Lhasa, Varanasi, and many others.
- Some cities are the product of decisions by kings and emperors, or governments.
- In the modern period there have been several new cities planned and built primarily as
new political capitals, including Ottawa, Brasilia, Canberra, and Washington.
Key Concept 2
- Which theory is the most convincing?
o All of the above. o As Kostoff notes, it is unlikely that we will ever identify a single cause.
o Cities developed independently in South Asia, the Middle East, China and
Central and South America.
o There are historically many very different processes and experiences of
o Diversity is an important characteristic of cities, urban origins, urban forms, urban
Fundamental Characteristics of Cities
- What defines cityness?
o Large population size and density
o Full-time specialization of labour
o Concentration of surplus product
o Class-structured society.
o State organization, government, coercive power.
Kostoff Fundamental Characteristics
d. Specialization of work
g. A hinterland
i. Buildings and people.
Key Concept 3
- All Cities share certain common qualities o But local histories, decisions, contribute to diversity of outcomes. They are not all