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Lecture 2

GGRA03H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Urban Geography, Path Dependence, William Cronon

Course Code
Andre Sorensen

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Lecture 2
Urban Environments in History
Why is History Important?
- understanding why
- understanding long-term patterns and processes
ocities are built upon previous systems
ounderstanding previous problems in the past help us understand institutions
we are working w/today
- Cities are code-generated
oHistorical analysis of urban form, growth, development and change is key to
understanding urban rules
- Cities are an expression of values
oAnalysis of how cities change over time allows understanding of the
civilizations that gave rise to them
- E.g condominiums
oMore people choosing to live downtown for work
oThis “choice” creates changes in cities and certain spaces/areas
When, where and why did cities emerge?
- hydraulic, economic, military, religious theories
- Hydraulic
oControl over H2O is essential
oIrrigation system required a governance system that could mobilize large
oEarly cities were almost always established @ key locations on rivers
oRural land use, irrigation systems, canals, etc. have long-term impacts on
urban patterns
- Economic
oSuggest that economic factors are the most important in urban development –
ports, raw materials, rich hinterland, energy sources, transport
oe.g. William Cronon (1991) "Nature's Metropolis”
economically valuable location – farms, land, rivers
oRapid growth of Chicago in the 19th Century as a process of economic
development of a rich hinterland
- Military
oSettlements established at military-strategic locations form the core of long-
term settlements
oMilitary pattern remains influential long after strategic value of settlement is
- Religious
Lecture 2
oCentres that are important for religious reasons are the starting point for many
cities globally, of which one of the most famous is Jerusalem
oAlso Mecca, Rome, Lhasa, Varanasi, and many others
Political Capitals
- cities are products of decisions made 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: Which theory is most convincing?
- all theories are convincing
- unlikely to have been a single cause
- historically, there are many different processes and experiences of urbanization
- diversity is an important characteristic of cities, urban origins, forms and institutions
Fundamental Characteristics of Cities
-What defines cityness?
- Large population size and density
- Full-time specialization of labour
- Concentration of surplus product
- Class-structured society
- State organization, government, coercive power
- Kostoff’s characteristics of cities:
oEnergized Crowding – density, numbers
oCities come in clusters
oBoundaries – physical circumscription – inside and outside
oSpecialized differentiation of work
oA source of income
oWritten records – particularly of accounts and property
Lecture 2
oA productive hinterland
oMonumental public buildings–identity and authorities
oBuildings and people
Key Concept 3
- All cities share certain common qualities
- But local histories, decisions, contribute to diversity of outcomes. They are not all the
- Early decisions have long-term impacts (path dependence)
- The spatiality & differentiation within and between cities is the primary topic of urban
- Geography provides an integrative point of view from which to study the interaction
of many factors: – political, economic, demographic, technological, topographic,
ideological, aesthetic, ecological
Path dependence
- describes situations where particular institutions – understood as commonly
accepted sets of rules or understandings – become harder to change over time
- Where path dependence exists, it is important to know “How” and “Why” a particular
institution was established, and why it persists
- Many urban institutions are path dependent
Urban form characteristics of Cities
-urban form: spatial arrangement of cities, and the spatial flows of people, goods,
and information that result
- walls, streets/movements, public/private spheres, infrastructure, water supply
- Walls
oControlled urban pop.