Urban Geography

In this assignment, you will first analyze how the market areas for specific chain stores change based on the type of store. Next, you will explore urban areas around the world, including their layout, size, and other factors. Finally, you will expore  what megacities around the world and their impacts.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify and explain the spatial hierarchy of major chain stores in Houston, Texas.
  • Analyze the range and market areas for coffee shops, fast food resturants, home improvement stores, and luxury department stores.
  • Locate urban areas and identify factors of urbanization.
  • Identify characteristics and examples of edge cities.
  • Describe the scale of urbanization.
  • Analyze environmental impacts and advantages of urban centers.

What’s the Range?

Ask: Where is Houston?

Step 1: Go to the ArcGIS Online map, What’s the Range?, and explore the map.

  • What major city is visible?
  • Where is Houston situated?

Step 2: Open and read the Map Note.

  • What is the commuter-adjusted population for Houston?

Acquire: What is a threshold?

Step 3: Threshold is the population needed to support a particular type of service; the range is the distance that people are willing to travel for a service.

Step 4: Click the button, Bookmarks. Select Houston.

You will explore  the locations of four major stores, and will determine which type of store each layer represents based on its spatial patterns. The four choices are major coffee shop, major fast food restaurant, major home improvement store, and luxury department store chain.

Explore: Can you predict the service industry in Houston?

Step 5: If you see a link to Modify Map (upper right), click it.

Step 6: With the Details button underlined, click the button Show Contents of Map (Content).

Step 7: Turn on the layer, Store 1. Rename Store 1 to Coffee Shop.

Click the Content button. Click the icon for More Options. Click Rename. Type in the new name, and click OK.

Step 8: Turn on the layer, Store 2. Rename Store 2 to Fast Food Restaurant.

Step 9: Turn on the layer, Store 3. Rename Store 3 to Home Improvement Store.

Step 10: Turn on the layer, Store 4. Rename Store 4 to Luxury Department Store.

Analyze: How does the range for a home improvement store compare to a coffee shop?

Step 11: Measure the distances between a few coffee shops.

Click the Measure Tool. Select Distance, and then choose the unit of measurement. Click once to start measuring, click again to change direction, and double-click to stop measuring.

Note how the range between coffee shops varies based on the part of Houston. Also, the range varies between the central business district (CBD) and other areas of Houston because of land use patterns and the nature of the CBD.

Step 12: Use the Measure tool to measure the distance between a few home improvement centers.

  • What is the range for a home improvement center?

There is a logical and geographical reason why there is such a range difference between coffee shops and home improvement centers. Coffee shops are not specialized, and people travel shorter distances for coffee. Whereas home improvement centers are specialized, and people are willing to travel farther for things to fix their properties.

Act: Why are there areas in Houston without any of these major stores?

Step 13: Turn on the Census Tracts layer.

Step 14: If necessary, zoom to Houston.

The possible reason why some areas of Houston do not have these services is because of residential or zoning issues (e.g., an area being part or not part of the CBD, socioeconomic variables, and cost of land).

Urban Areas and Edge Cities

Ask: What characteristics define a city?

Louis Wirth identified a city to have defining characteristics that included a large population, size, a heterogeneous nature, and a defined boundary.

Businesses, a large population, and a unique cultural landscape identify a city whereas urban locations include non-rural areas like the city and suburbs. Common characteristics of major cities include having a downtown area, large buildings, and a highway and transportation network.

Acquire: What are some examples of cities?

Step 1: Go to the ArcGIS Online map, Urban Areas and Edge Cities, and explore the map.

Step 2: With the Details button underlined, click the button, Show Contents of Map (Content).

Step 3: Click the checkbox to the left of the layer name, USA Major Cities.

  • What are some major cities in the United States?

Step 4: Zoom in and out to identify and view some of these cities.

  • What are some examples of small cities located in the United States?

Step 5: Turn on the layer, World Urban Areas.

  • Select a continent, and zoom to specific urban areas. What are some major world cities?

Explore: What factors have led to urban growth of cities?

Step 6: Zoom to the United States.

Step 7: Turn on the layer, Population Density – Counties.

  • What connections are evident between population distribution and major cities.

Step 8: Turn off the layer, Population Density – Counties.

Step 9: Turn off all layers to see the basemap, World Street Map.

Step 10: Zoom to a city of interest.

  • Why might cities grow at different rates?
  • Why are cities often surrounded by other nearby cities?

Analyze: How have edge cities changed the physical and cultural landscape?

Step 11: Use the search box, above and right of the map. Search for Washington, D.C.

  • What are some examples of edge cities that have emerged in the area?

Step 12: Zoom in to Washington, D.C., and observe the land use patterns.

  • What characteristics identify these as edge cities?
  • What is the next stage of growth for these edge cities and surrounding suburbs?

Act: What is the future of urban growth?

  • How is urban growth changing cities around the world?
  • How have residential and commercial areas changed the urban landscape?
  • How is urban growth changing the areas adjacent to cities?
  • How can the Urban Observatory, or other applications visualize these concepts?

Megacities

Engage: What characteristics define a city?

Step 1: Go to the ArcGIS Online map, Megacities, and explore the map.

  • Provide three spatial observations you can see from the map. What spatial patterns do you observe?

Cities include businesses, population, and cultural landscapes; urban areas also include non-rural areas, cities, and suburbs.

A megacity is defined as a city that has a population greater than 10 million people.

Explore: What are some examples of megacities?

Some essential characteristics of a megacity include a dense population center, a large surface footprint, and an extensive transportation system.

Step 2: Using the Details pane, click the button, Show Contents of Map.

Step 3: Click the checkbox to the left of the layer name, World Urban Sprawl.

Step 4: Zoom out to the world view. The reason why some layers are not visible on the map is that the layer is set to be visible at a specific scale.

Step 5: Zoom in and out to view and explore some of these cities.

  • What cities around the world might be megacities?

Explain: What factors influence urban center geography?

  • What might be some factors leading to an increase in urbanization?

Step 6: Click the checkbox to the left of the layer name, Megacities.

  • Where are most megacities located?

Step 7: Hover over the Megacities layer name and click the button, Show Table.

Step 8: In the table, click the column header, % Growth. Sort ascending.

  • Which cities are growing the fastest?

Step 9: Investigate three cities by clicking their map markers.

  • What are the growth rates for these cities?

Elaborate: How have cities changed over time?

  • What are some possible factors leading to urban sprawl?

Step 10: Click the button, Show Map Contents.

Step 11: Turn off the layer, World Urban Sprawl.

Step 12: Turn on three layers, Tokyo 1929, Tokyo 1954, and Tokyo 1972.

Step 13: Toggle between the three years. Observe how Tokyo has changed over time.

Step 14: Click the button, Measure. Calculate the square kilometer footprint of urban growth for Tokyo 1929.

Position the area of interest on the map so that it is not obscured by the Measure window. Click the button, Measure. Select the Area button and choose a unit of measurement. On the map, click once to start the measurement, click again to change direction, and double-click to stop measuring.

Evaluate: What is wrong with sprawl?

Step 15: Repeat the measuring step for the remaining two years (1954, 1972).

  • What is the square kilometer footprint for each year?
  • What patterns of growth do you notice?
  • What are some potential adverse effects related to urban sprawl?

This last video, titled Megacities of the World, is optional for the assignment. It focuses on seven amazing megacities around the world.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Human Geography Lab Manual by R. Adam Dastrup, MA, GISP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book