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Today we’re going to take a closer look at cities, examine how these large complex structures are organized, and identify patterns and differences in land use around the world. We'll begin with a quick recap of Central Place Theory, then we'll show you how the Concentric Zone Model can approximate the development of Chicago in the United States. Then, we'll take a closer look at colonial port cities, the development of industrial zones and financial districts, and the patchwork of immigrant communities that often developed around them in cities such as Boston in the United States. And finally, we will end our episode with a look at the layout of some North African cities that are in earthquake-prone areas with hot and dry climates such as in Fez, Morocco.

SOURCES
Knox and Marston 2016: Human Geography Place and Regions in a Global Context. 7th Edition. Pearson
White et al 2008. Essentials of World Regional Geography 2nd Edition. McGraw Hill. 
Latham, A et al 2009. Key Concepts in Urban Geography. Sage Publications, Inc. 
Knox P.L and McCarthy L. 2012. Urbanization An Introduction to Urban Geography. 3rd Edition. Pearson 
Knox P and Pinch S. 2000. Urban Social Geography An Introduction. 4th Edition. Prentice Hall
Pacione, M. 2001. Urban Geography A Global Perspective. Routledge

FEZ Morocco
http://www.urbanmorphologyinstitute.org/resources/sustainable-arabic-urban-design/
https://www.britannica.com/place/Fes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fez,_Morocco
https://www.globalurban.org/GUDMag08Vol4Iss1/Radoine.htm
 
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A streetcar rumbling, cars honking, a siren wailing, the tinkling of a fountain... the buzz of a large city is unmistakable.

Cities pulse with movement -- the back and forth of people going about their business and the incessant visible and invisible flow of money, information, ideas, goods, energy, and more. The soundscapes and streetscapes of a city are familiar to us whether we live in one or not.

Whether we're just visiting for the weekend or we can't remember not knowing how to navigate the subway, there's so much to see, hear, taste, smell -- and even study. Last episode we talked about how urbanization, or how cities grow and change, comes from shifts in the type of economic activity people in the area are relying on, technology, and population changes. Like how Tokyo used to be a small fishing village named Edo, or maybe how where you lived has changed over the past two years as more people permanently work from home.

These shifts also change the internal structure or how the city is physically organized and laid out. So today we'll peer inside these large complex structures to see how space is organized, whether there are regularities in the patterns of land use and how and why they differ around the world. I'm Alizé Carrére, and this is Crash Course Geography. [Intro] Every city has a unique story to tell.

And if we have the appropriate skills and tools, we can 'read' the city like a 'text' that will tell us all about its culture and history. A story about who it is, where it came from and where it's going. Its neighborhoods give us clues about who lives there and the sorts of work people do.

Empty or full streets tell us about life there. And there are signals everywhere pointing to its history, from what people had for lunch, to war and resettlement, to blight and danger, but also hope and community and just...life. For instance, take this flat plain somewhere in the middle of America.

Based on Central Place Theory which we introduced last episode, each one of our farmers is going to settle evenly across this plain, all kind of equidistant from one another. But eventually, we need a place to buy staples like bananas, or maybe a new hammer after it gets thrown into the corn in frustration. This is where towns start to crop up.

And then sometimes we need something bigger than a banana or a hammer, like a new plow or tractor. And for more specialized items like that, you'd head to the big city. Of course this doesn't really look like any particular town we know, and that's because it's a model.

And models really summarize a theory, and like our other geography tool the map, they're simplifications of reality. For example, another model tells us how a city grows outward in a radial fashion from the city center or Central Business District. This is called the Concentric Zone Model.

The Concentric Zone Model is actually based on late 19th and early 20th century Chicago with its dazzling new technologies -- like monumental corporate skyscrapers made of steel and glass and an imposing city hall, all interspersed with wide rivers and broad streets with statuesque monuments. Moving away from the center, streets are laid out in a grid pattern and we might cross several old derelict industrial districts alongside rail lines or channelized rivers. Most of these factories, warehouses, and mills are boarded up, though a few might still be active.

This is the Zone of Transition, and while it's mostly used for industrial stuff, this is also where we'd find the cheapest places to live. As we move to the next ring of the model, the Zone of Independent Workers, we find families of factory workers who have been able to leave the Zone of Transition but who still need cheap and easy access to their workplaces. And even further out we hit the suburbs.

This is the Zone of Better Residences, and it's where middle class and upwardly mobile families live -- just like today, really. And finally we reach the last ring, or the Zone of Commuters. As hard as it might be to believe, in teh early 20th century, this was the place to live.

This is where you found the wealthy people, the people who could afford the luxury of taking a train to work. It's pretty wild to think about commuting as a luxury, but it's cool to see how times have changed! And lastly we reach the rural urban fringe, or the outer suburbs where the lots are large and land waits for a developer.

But even though it's based on Chicago, this isn't a perfect description of the city. And that's because models are more like guidelines than actual rules. These models just help us start to explain the patterns we see in cities -- but there are many models.

If we take a tour of most cities in North America, we can actually read several distinct historical phases in its layout, kind of like an archaeological dig. Each new phase of a city brings new processes and relationships that produced specific patterns or urban form, or the city's size and shape and the arrangement of its houses, streets, buildings, and open spaces. It also affects land use, which influences how land is used within the city limits.

And all of that is imprinted on the city layer by layer. For instance, many cities in North America started out as colonial ports and inland market centers often built upon a landscape shaped by America's indigenous people. They were what we call pedestrian cities where goods were moved by hand cart or horse cart, water power and canal building were essential, and there was very little separation between home and workplace.

But industrialization brought sweeping new changes. Starting in the 1850s, cities were brimming with newcomers and jammed with factories, warehouses, shops, and offices, and there was intense competition for the best and most accessible locations. This made the Central Business District a highly desirable location because that's where transportation routes all converged.

Like in Boston in the US, where the city's original Financial District can still be found in the same place today (even though it had to be completely rebuilt after the Great Boston Fire). On early maps of Boston we can even see that while its Financial District isn't situated in teh center of the city, it was still a major part of the transportation routes for businesses in the area. And in between these transitions, wealthier people were able to establish homes away from where they worked.

They were often motivated by trying to seek a better way of life, and escaping the congestion and pollution of the city -- as well as newcomers. Demographically speaking, North America's industrial cities of the late 1800s attracted huge numbers of migrants and immigrants, mostly from Germany, Ireland, England, and China. They were pushed and pulled to North America by a number of factors, like famines or relief from religious or political persecution, or just a chance at a better life.

In these industrial cities, a patchwork of ethnic communities ended up encircling the central business district. Though over time there’s been a constant sorting and resorting of residents. Neighborhoods have changed as one social or ethnic group has moved in and taken over from another, which is a process geographers call invasion and succession.

Which brings us to the suburbs. Following the second world war, there was a twin surge in car ownership and road building. The result was an explosion in suburban growth, or the areas lying within the commuting zone of a city, which when studying cities we call sub-urbanization.

The ring of suburbs grew much faster than the central city. Today they are sprawling, low density and car dependent areas at the fringes of metropolitan areas. These shifts in transportation entirely reshaped workplaces and living patterns.

In fact many researchers think that innovations and changes in transportation systems are the most significant factor in deciding urban form and land use because they control how close people live together and how much land they take up. Then starting in the late 1970s, manufacturing jobs started declining in cities. Our technology was also changing as broadband and satellite systems grew.

And this also affected how people lived and exacerbated social and economic inequality, so the urban form became more fragmented and less centralized as edge cities sprung up on the fringes of metropolitan areas. Today’s North American cities are polycentric metropolitan structures which means the suburbs are not just bedroom communities for those who work in downtowns. They’re strong employment centers that serve many economic functions in their regions.

But here on Crash Course Geography we’re well aware that each space has a unique history that has created the places there today. So, what would happen if we took those wide straight streets and grids from many European or North American cities and put them somewhere hot and windy and where there’s a lot of earthquakes? Clearly we can’t build cities the same way in every climate or environment.

For example, while North African, Islamic cities also start like many European cities, with a place of worship in the center -- but a mosque instead of a cathedral -- the hot, dry climate and earthquake prone region means that the actual layout of the city and  the way buildings are put up are different. And while every city is going to be different, Fez is a pretty good example of what we can expect. So now we’re in Fez, Morocco.

As of 2022 it’s the third largest city in Morocco and was founded between the 8th and 9th centuries. If we start in the center of the city, we begin in the Jami, or Friday mosque, and we’re immediately thrust into the suqs, or covered bazaars and street markets along its outer perimeter. These were the center of commercial and social life.

And unlike most European cities, the suqs were built right up against the walls, completely hiding the mosque. So it’s kinda like the invisible heart of the city. First, we pass stalls selling books, perfumes, prayer mats and the like.

These were considered the cleanest and most prestigious goods, and so the suqs closest to the main mosque specialized in them. And as we move farther away towards the gates to the city, we pass the trades that were considered unclean and so were farther from the mosque, like paint shops, tanneries, and leather dyers. And clustered alongside the suqs are the residential districts.

Within a neighborhood, each house was interrelated with a group of houses by winding narrow streets, alleyways and covered passages which helped to maximize shade and made it possible to walk everywhere in the town. In a hot dry climate, these urban design principles were a practical response to intense heat and sunlight. And the narrow streets and buildings buttressing other buildings could’ve been early attempts to earthquake proof the city.

The result was compact, highly dense neighborhoods with a continuous layout of buildings which minimized how much land was used and helped foster a sense of community. And within individual houses, doors were placed so that they didn’t face each other across small streets. Windows were small, narrow, and above eye level.

This made it possible to maintain a high degree of personal privacy which is an important aspect of Islamic cultural values. Many streets were dead-ended to limit the number of people passing through,   and in larger homes courtyards provided a focus for domestic life while maintaining privacy. Today, the historic core of the old city of Fez is surrounded by successive urban expansions.

During the colonial era in the early 20th century, a new city grew outside the walls of the old city. It has features common to other colonial cities such as new government buildings, wide boulevards, hotels, department stores and the like. And further out, the modern post-colonial city forms a ring around the area of colonial urban development.

Courtyard homes have all but disappeared, replaced by apartment blocks and high income single family dwellings. Also visible is a zone of international hotels, skyscrapers, factories, universities, and highways. And here we also see squatter settlements that house newly arrived migrants.

And that’s something we see when we “read” Boston, or Fez, or a lot of cities, really. The character of urban spaces comes from the people who live and work in it as they modify their physical and social environments to suit their needs and values. Each city has its own particular internal geography -- and that can be both really messy and really beautiful.

Cities are living, breathing ecosystems where life plays out as a complex dance of interactions, including competition for space, matters of accessibility and convenience, or social patterns that influence how we relate to one another in a shared environment. The nature of these problems and how they are addressed through the formal process of city planning is a theme we’ll pick up next time.

Many maps and borders represent modern geopolitical divisions that have often been decided without the consultation, permission, or recognition of the land's original inhabitants. Many geographical place names also don't reflect the Indigenous or Aboriginal peoples languages.

So we at Crash Course want to acknowledge these peoples’ traditional and ongoing relationship with that land and all the physical and human geographical elements of it. We encourage you to learn about the history of the place you call home through resources like native-land.ca and by engaging with your local Indigenous and Aboriginal nations through the websites and resources they provide.

Thanks for watching this episode of Crash Course Geography which is filmed at the Team Sandoval Pierce Studio and was made with the help of all these nice people. If you want to help keep Crash Course free for everyone, forever, you can join our community on Patreon.