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Hierarchies in cities and city systems

Batty, M; (2004) Hierarchies in cities and city systems. (CASA Working Paper Series 85). Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (UCL): London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Hierarchy is implicit in the very term city. Cities grow from hamlets andvillages into small towns and thence into larger forms such as ?metropolis?,?megalopolis? and world cities which are ?gigalopolis?. In one sense, allurban agglomerations are referred to generically as cities but this sequenceof city size from the smallest identifiable urban units to the largest containsan implicit hierarchy in which there are many more smaller cities thanlarger ones. This organisation approximately scales in a regular but simplemanner, city sizes following a rank-size rule whose explanation is bothmysterious and obvious. In this chapter, we begin with a simple but wellknownmodel of urban growth where growth is randomly proportionate tocity size and where it is increasingly unlikely that a small city becomesvery big. It is easy to show that this process generates a hierarchy which isstatistically self-similar, hence fractal but this does not contain anyeconomic interactions that we know must be present in the way cities growand compete. We thus modify the model adding mild diffusion and thennote how these ideas can be fashioned using network models whichgenerate outcomes consistent with these kinds of order and scaling. Wethen turn this argument on its head and describe how the same sorts ofmorphology can be explained using ideas from central place theory. Thesenotions are intrinsic to the way cities evolve and we conclude by notinghow city design must take account of natural hierarchies which groworganically, rather than being established using top-down, centralizedplanning.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Hierarchies in cities and city systems
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Additional information: Imported via OAI, 16:54:26 4th May 2005
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/201
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