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The CBD or Central Business District is the commercial centre of an urban area. It contains the main shops, offices and financial institutions of the urban area. It is usually the most accessible (easy to get to) part of the city. This is because most of the main transport routes lead here. Due to high land values, buildings tend to be tall, and building density is high.
Land values tend to be very high; this is the result of significant competition to locate here. It is cheaper to build up than out. Also, there is a limited amount of open space available. New developments tend to focus on redeveloping existing areas rather than using the limited open space available.
The CBD in Newcastle
Geographer Mark Jefferson developed the law of the primate city to explain the phenomenon of huge cities that capture such a large proportion of a country’s population as well as its economic activity. These primate cities are often, but not always, the capital cities of a country. An excellent example of a primate city is Paris, which truly represents and serves as the focus of France. They dominate the country in influence and are the national focal point. Their sheer size and activity become a strong pull factor, bringing additional residents to the city and causing the primate city to grow even larger and more disproportional to smaller cities in the country. However, not every country has a primate city.
Most large cities in the United States emerged where two or more modes of transportation intersect, forming what geographers call a break of bulk point. Breaking bulk happens whenever cargo is unloaded from a ship, truck, barge, or train. Until the 1970s, unloading (and reloading) freight required a vast number of laborers, and therefore any city that had a busy dock or port or station attracted workers. Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and Houston all grew very large because multiple transportation modes well served each.
There were problems though with that simple definition. Some areas which had quite large populations but were unincorporated, failed to meet the old definition or urban. For example, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Arlington, Virginia, are not incorporated, therefore they were technically labeled “census-designated places,” rather than cities. Conversely, some incorporated areas may have very few people. This can happen when a city loses population, or when the boundaries of a city extend far beyond the populated core of the city. Jacksonville, Florida, is the classic example of this problem. Jacksonville annexed so much territory that its city limits extend far into the adjacent countryside, making it the largest city in land area in the United States (874.3 square miles!).
Examples of Countries that Lack Primate Cities
While some countries’ urban hierarchy somewhat fits into Zipf’s scheme, later geographers argued that his model should be seen as a probability model and that deviations are to be expected.
The third and final urban design is called the multiple nuclei model. In this model, the city is more complex and has more than one CBD. A node could exist for the downtown region, another where a university is situated, and maybe another where an international airport is located. Some clustering does exist in this model because some sectors tend to stay away from other sectors. For example, the industry does not tend to develop next to high-income housing.
Two underlying causal forces contribute to the rise of cities. Site location factors are those elements that favor the growth of a city that is found at that location. Site factors include things like the availability of water, food, good soils, a quality harbor, and characteristics that make a location easy to defend from attack. Situation factors are external elements that favor the growth of a city, such as distance to other cities, or a central location. For example, the exceptional distance invading armies have had to travel to reach Moscow, Russia has helped the city survive many wars. Most large cities have good site and situation factors.
Those process of carrying boats and/cargo between two navigable stretches of the river (or to another river) is called Portage. Towns evolve where critical portage zones arose. Indiana, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Maine all have municipalities named “Portage,” but the essential portage zone in the United States appeared in Chicago, Illinois. Just southwest of what is now downtown Chicago, near Midway Airport was a portage zone where the Chicago River, which flows north into the Lake Michigan nearly intersected the Des Plaines River, which flows southward into the Mississippi River system. Around 1850, the people of Chicago built a canal connecting America’s two most significant navigable water systems, and by doing so, gave Chicago an enormous transportation advantage over other locations in the Midwest.
Some scholars define a primate city as one that is larger than the combined populations of the second and third-ranked cities in a country. This definition does not represent real primacy; however, as the size of the first ranked city is not disproportionate to the second.