Urban Geography Glossary
Amenities: These may be within the home, in which case they refer to baths, toilets (w.c.'s), hot water etc., or outside people's homes in which case they would include parks, shops, public transport provision, etc..
Break of Bulk Point: the place where goods have to be unloaded e.g. a port.
Bridging Point: a settlement site where a river is narrow or shallow enough to be bridged. The bridge becomes a route centre and trading centre, the natural location for a market. It is also a good defensive site. The lowest bridging point on a river is the bridge nearest to the sea; this site is ideal for a river port settlement.
Brownfield land: urban land that has previously been developed, such as a the site of a demolished building or factory.
Burgess Model: an urban land use model showing five concentric zones, based upon age of houses and wealth of their inhabitants. (See concentric ring model).
By-pass: A road built around a busy urban area to avoid traffic jams.
CBD: Central Business District or city centre; the commercial and business centre ot a town or city where land values are at the highest. This is the most accessible part of the town or city. High land values lead to intensive use of the land and buildings are built as high as possible to maximise office space and therefore rental income.
Central Place: any settlement that provides goods and services for smaller neighbouring settlements.
City: cities are urban places. They are usually large (more than 20,000 people) and are economically self- sufficient (unlike a large dormitory or suburban town).
Clustered Settlement Pattern: a settlement where buildings are clustered around a particular point.
Commuting: the process by which people living in one place, travel to another place to work.
Comparison Goods/Services: these are high-order (usually expensive) goods such as antiques, jewellery, and some clothing and electrical equipment. They are called comparison goods because people like to compare prices, quality and other features before buying them. Comparison goods are usually sold in shops in city centres or large out-of-town shopping centres. People visit comparison shops only occasionally so they need a large market area.
Comprehensive Redevelopment: an area, usually in the inner city, where the whole urban landscape was demolished before being rebuilt on a planned basis by the council or city government.
Concentric Ring Model: see Burgess model.
Congestion: overcrowding on roads causing traffic jams.
Consumer: these are people. As trade in goods and services increases, the power of the consumer increases. Industries must create what people want (or think they need).
Conurbation: a large urban settlement which is the result of towns and cities spreading out and merging together.
Convenience Goods/Services: these are low/order goods - inexpensive things that vary little in price, quality or other features that we need to buy regularly e.g. newspapers, cigarettes and bread. Convenience shops are found on most street corners where they have a small market area of people who visit the shop on most days.
Corner Shop a shop typical of the inner city zone (but also common in all zones except the CBD) found on every street corner, selling a range of every-day needs. (See convenience goods and low-order goods/services).
Counterurbanisation: The movement of people from the MEDC cities to the countryside seeking a better quality of life. Many still commute into the city to work, but increasing numbers are moving to completely change their lifestyle and work in the rural area, often by teleworking.
Cycle of Deprivation: a sequence of events experienced by disadvantaged people in which one problem e.g. lack of work, leads to other problems and so makes things worse.
Defensive Site: a settlement which usually grew at or around a fort or castle on top of a hill, although river meander bends, bridges, dry-point sites and coastal sites with cliffs were also good for defence.
Demand: the willingness and ability of consumers to pay for a particular good or service; As long as the supply of goods and services meets the demand, prices remain the same (stable). High demand for land in the CBD from businesses wishing to locate there results in very high land values because supply cannot be increased to meet the demand.
Dependant person: This is either a dependant child, or a person with long-term sickness preventing him/her from working.
Deprivation: The degree to which an individual or an area is deprived of services and amenities. There are many different types and levels of deprivation included poor and overcrowded housing, inadequate diet, inadequate income and lack of opportunity for employment.
Derelict: abandoned buildings and wasteland.
Detached house: a house standing alone (not joined to another) typical of the wealthy suburb zone of a city. (See Burgess).
Dispersed Settlement Pattern: where buildings in a settlement are not clustered around a particular point but are scattered in a random fashion (see linear and nucleated settlement).
Dormitory Settlement: one where many commuters 'sleep' overnight but travel to work elsewhere during the day.
Dry-point Site: a settlement site on dry land surrounded by low, wet ground; this was good for defence.
Ethnic group: This is a group which is defined by race, religion, nationality or culture.
Facilities: see amenities.
Family Life Cycle Model: a model which is based on the movements of people within a city seeking a better home as their personal circumstances (both financial and social) change over time.
Family status: This is the position of a person in the . A person's family status reflects age, whether or not the person is married and whether or not the person has children.
Favela: a Brazilian term for an informal, shanty-type settlement.
Filtering: a process by which social groups move from one residential area to another, leading to changes in the social nature of residential areas. (See Social leapfrogging).
Formal Sector: the employment sector comprising 'proper' jobs that are usually permanent, with set hours of work, agreed levels of pay, and sometimes pensions and social security rights.
Function of a Settlement: what the settlement does to 'earn its living' e.g. market town, mining town, administrative centre, tourist resort etc..
Gap Town: a town located at a gap between hills, providing a good defensive site and route centre that led to a trade and market function.
Gentrification: a process by which run-down houses in an inner city or other neglected area are improved by better off (affluent) people who move there in order to have easier access to the jobs and services of the city centre. The 'improving' social group changes attract more people of the similar wealthier social group.
Green Belt: An area around a city, composed mostly of parkland and farmland, in which development is strictly controlled. Its purpose is to prevent the outward growth of the city, preserve countryside for farming, wildlife and recreation, and, often to prevent two or more cities from merging to form one huge urban area.
Greenfield land: a term used to describe a piece of undeveloped rural land, either currently used for agriculture or just left to nature.
Hectare: this is an area equivalent to 2.471 acres.
Hierarchy: a ranking of settlements or shopping centres according to their population size or the number of services they provide.
High-order goods/services: a good or service, usually expensive, that people buy only occasionally e.g. furniture, computers and jewellery. High-order services are usually located in larger towns and cities with a large market area - accessible to large numbers of people.
Hinterland: the area served by a port (its sphere of influence).
Household: a person living alone or a group of people, not necessarily related, living at the same address with shared housekeeping. Shared housekeeping involves sharing at least one meal a day or sharing a living room or sitting room.
Hoyt Model: an urban land use model showing wedges (sectors), based upon main transport routes and social groupings.
Hypermarket: a giant shopping centre containing a very large supermarkets and other smaller shops found in an out-of-city location, close to a motorway junction. It benefits from cheap land and the new trend to shopping by car, with large carparks to cater for this. Prices are kept low by the supermarket buying in bulk which enables it to negotiate the lowest possible prices from its suppliers.
Industrial Revolution: the growth and development of manufacturing industry and the factory system which began in the UK in the eighteenth century.
Informal Sector: casual, irregular work, e.g. street selling.
Inner City: the part of the urban area surrounding the CBD; it often contains older housing and industry, in a state of poor repair and dereliction (See urban redevelopment and urban renewal).
Linear Settlement: a settlement which follows the line of, for example, a road or river.
Loose-Knit Settlement: a settlement with many gaps between its buildings and little, if any, pattern. (See dispersed settlement pattern).
Low-order Goods/Services: a good or service, usually inexpensive, that people buy on a regular, often daily daily basis - for example, newspapers, bread and milk. Low-order goods and services are usually purchased from shops located in suburban or neighbourhood centres close to where people live. (See corner shop).
Market Area: the area served by a particular settlement, shop or service. (See sphere of influence).
Megalopolis: a continuous stretch of urban settlement which results from towns cities and conurbations merging together.
Market Town: a town whose main function is that of a shopping and service centre for the surrounding region.
Millionaire City: a city with over one million inhabitants.
Natural Harbour: where the shape of the coastline helps to provide shelter for ships from storms.
Neighbourhood Unit: the basic building unit for planned new towns, designed to provide people with a safe, traffic-free environment and access to all frequently needed services such as primary schools, shops and clinics within walking distance.
New Town: a well-planned, self-contained settlement complete with housing, employment and services.
Nucleated Settlement Pattern: a settlement where buildings are clustered around a particular point.
Out-of-town Shopping Centre: a large group of shops built either on a site on the edge of the urban area or on the site of a former large industrial area. Such centres usually have large carparks, a pedestrianised, air-conditioned environment and over 100 shops.
Overspill Town: a town that expanded by taking people who were forced to move out of cities as a result of slum clearance and redevelopment schemes.
Over-urbanisation: problems experienced by most LEDC cities e.g. Bombay, where too many people are migrating to the city resulting in housing shortages, poor housing conditions, lack of sanitation and piped water, illness and crime, traffic congestion, pollution, over-stretched services, unemployment, underemployment, etc..
Owner-occupied: a house lived in by its owner (as opposed to renting - see tenant).
Pensionable age: a person of a pensionable age is a man aged 65 or over or a woman aged 60 or over.
Planning: attempting to carry out a programme of work, such as building a new town or protecting historic buildings, by following an agreed set of guidelines, design or plan.
Port: a settlement site located where ships could be anchored in safety, sheltered from the sea. Large ports tend to be route centres, serving a hinterland.
Primate City: some countries have one city - the primate city - which, in terms of its population size and functions, dominates all other urban places.
Professional Occupations: these comprise employers, managers and professional workers whose occupations normally require a university degree or other highly selective qualification such as doctors, civil engineers, etc..
Quality of Life: an idea which is difficult to define because it means different things to different people. Things which make for a good quality of life might include high income, good health, good housing, basic home amenities, pleasant surroundings, recreational open space, good local shops, a secure job, etc..
Range of a Good: the maximum distance that people are prepared to travel for a specific service.
Redevelopment: the rebuilding of parts of a city. Sometimes large areas are completely demolished before being rebuilt; sometimes all or some of the old buildings are retained and modernised to combine the best features of the old and the new.
Residential Preference: where people would like to live.
Retail Park: an out-of-town shopping centre with a few large warehouse-type stores, selling electrical goods, carpets, D.I.Y. goods, building supplies etc.
Retailing: the sale of goods, usually in shops, to the general public.
Re-urbanisation: the process whereby towns and cities in MEDCs which have been experiencing a loss of population are able to reverse the decline and begin to grow again. Some form of redevelopment is often required to start re-urbanisation.
Ribbon development: when housing grows out from a town along a main road.
Ring-road: a by-pass that provides a route around the CBD.
Route Centre: a settlement located at the meeting point of several roads/railways; the meeting point of two or more river valleys (which provide good road and rail routes through high land), is often the location of a route-centre settlement. Bridging points, ports and gap towns are also natural route centres.
Rural-Urban Fringe: a zone of transition between the built-up area and the countryside, where there is often competition for land use. It is a zone of mixed land uses, from shopping malls and golf courses to farmland and motorways.
Second Homes: homes purchased by city dwellers in country villages or areas of usually great natural beauty for holiday or weekend use only. These create problems for local communities since house prices in the area of second homes rise out of the reach of young people, and shops, schools and bus services are forced to close due to lack of customers. The newcomers also bring unwanted social changes to the villages.
Sector Model: see Hoyt model.
Self-help Housing Schemes: groups of people, especially in LEDCs, are encouraged to build their own homes, using materials provided by the local authority.
Semi-detached house: a house joined to one other. These are common in the middle-class suburb zones of a city in the MEDCs.
Semi-skilled occupations: these jobs involve skills that are quickly learnt, for example bus conductors, labourers, kitchen hands and cleaners.
Settlement Function: the main activity, usually economic e.g. tourist resort or social e.g. dormitory town, of a place.
Settlement Pattern: the shape and spacings of individual settlements, usually dispersed, nucleated or linear.
Shanty Town: an area of poor-quality housing, lacking in amenities such as water supply, sewerage and electricity, which often develops spontaneously and illegally (as a squatter settlement) in a city in an LEDC.
Shopping Mall: A modern very large out-of-town shopping centre with a motorway junction location that provides a family day 'experience'. It offers a range of entertainments besides a large number of shops in an air-conditioned enclosed area of up to half a square kilometre.
Slum: a house unfit for human habitation.
Site: the actual place where a settlement (or farm or factory) is located.
Site and Service Schemes: a method of encouraging housing improvement in poor areas of cities in LEDCs. The government provides the land for a new development and installs services such as water and electricity. Local people can then obtain a plot in the scheme for a low rent and build their own houses.
Situation: the location of a settlement in relation to places (physical and human) surrounding it e.g. roads, rivers, land use etc. A settlement with a good situation is likely to grow to become a market town for the surrounding region.
Social Class: A person's social class reflects wealth, income, education, status and power. A person's occupation is generally used to indicate social class.
Social Leap-Frogging: the process by which those who can afford to do so move out of an area as it becomes older and more run down, to be replaced by less well-off people.
Socio-Economic Group: classification of people according to their occupation, e.g. professional, skilled, manual. Occupation is related to income, wealth and education. The classification is shown below:
Professional and managerial
|e.g. employers, senior managers, architects, solicitors.||e.g. teachers, nurses, social workers - all jobs requiring good qualifications.||e.g. clerical workers, secretaries - jobs requiring training.||e.g. supervisors, skilled workers, bus drivers, hair stylists||e.g. fitters, machine operators - jobs requiring some training.||e.g. labourers - jobs requiring little training or experience.|
Sphere of Influence: the area served by a settlement, shop or service.
Spontaneous Settlement: a squatter settlement or shanty town containing self-built houses made of scrap materials such as corrugated iron and plastic; the settlement usually lacks piped water, an electricity supply and sewage disposal facilities. Spontaneous settlements are very common in cities in LEDCs and are illegal because the residents neither own the land on which the houses are built, nor have permission to build there.
Squatter Settlement: another name for a spontaneous settlement.
Suburbs: the outer zone of towns and cities.
Suburbanisation: the process by which people, factories, offices and shops move out from the central areas of cities and into the suburbs.
Suburbanised Villages/Towns: dormitory or commuter villages/towns with a residential population who sleep in the village/town but who travel to work in the nearby large urban area. The suburbanised village has increasingly adopted some of the characteristics (new housing estates, more services) of urban areas.
Teleworking: working from home using telecommunications.
Tenant: a person who rents his/her home from a private landlord or the local council.
Tenure: the way in which property is held. A house of flat may be owned by the occupier or rented, either from the council or from a private landlord.
Tenement Blocks: Large residential blocks built in the inner cities of the MEDCs during the Industrial Revolution to house workers in high density cramped and unhygienic conditions next to the factories.
Terraced House: a house within a (usually) long line of joined housing. Terraced housing is typical of the inner city zone in the U.K.
Threshold Population: the minimum number of people required to support a particular good, shop or office. For example, large stores such as Marks & Spencer have a threshold population of over 100,000, whilst shoe shops have a threshold population of about 25,000.
Transition Zone: see Zone in Transition.
Twilight Zone: the term applied to an inner city area as it begins to change into the Zone of Transition.
Under-Class: the new urban poor who are often ill, unemployed, homeless, unqualified, and with health problems.
Underemployment: the situation where people do not have fulltime, continuous work, and are usually only employed temporarily or seasonally (e.g. during the summer months in a hotel).
Unskilled manual occupations: these jobs require no specific skills.
Urban Fringe: see rural-urban fringe.
Urban Hierarchy: see hierarchy.
Urban Redevelopment: the total clearance of parts of old inner city areas and starting afresh with new houses, especially high-rise flats.
Urban Renewal/Regeneration: the improvement of old houses and the addition of amenities in an attempt to bring new life to old inner city areas.
Urban Sprawl: the unplanned uncontrolled growth of urban areas into the surrounding countryside.
Urbanisation: the process by which an increasing percentage of a country's population comes to live in towns and cities. Rapid urbanisation is a feature of most LEDCs.
Wet Point Site: a settlement location where the main advantage is a water supply in an otherwise dry area e.g. at a spring where an impermeable clay valley meets the foot of permeable limestone or chalk hills.
Wholesaling: the sale of goods to retailers; wholesalers are not open to the general public.
Zone in Transition: the inner city area around the CBD. It is a zone of mixed land uses, ranging from car parks and derelict buildings to slums, cafes and older houses, often converted to offices or industrial use.