As cities have evolved over the past several centuries, so has the way they are structured. Gone are the days when cities were strictly organized by economic class and social class.
Now, cities are divided into different neighborhoods that contain a mix of economic classes and races. This blend creates a synergy that attracts people from all walks of life and boosts the city’s prestige.
Another important aspect of a city is its urban core. This refers to the area where most activities are clustered, including retail and office spaces.
Most cities have a very dense downtown area, which includes lots of tall buildings and lots of people. In fact, many people who work in downtown live in surrounding neighborhoods that have high-density housing.
The reason for this is because there isn’t enough space to accommodate all the people that work in the urban core. Housing and commercial buildings are limited, hence the high density housing.
Many cities are now researching ways to increase the amount of available space in the urban core while also being environmentally friendly. One way is by building vertical farms where vegetation is planted on shelves or walls, giving the impression of a farm with vertical spaces.
Clustering and specialization
The next principle is clustering and specialization. In a city, economic activities should be concentrated in specific areas and sectors.
For instance, manufacturing should be located in one area, service industries in another area, and so on. This way, people can easily find what they’re looking for and access it efficiently.
Clustering also promotes inter-sector collaboration. When companies in different sectors work together, they can share resources, which leads to efficiency and cost savings.
This principle applies to the city level as well. Neighborhoods that have similar economic activities should be located close to each other. This way, people who work in those industries can easily walk or bicycle between them.
Transportation and infrastructure
The next element of a city is its transportation and infrastructure. How people get around the city is a big part of how it functions.
A city should have accessible and diverse transportation. This includes having good sidewalks and bike lanes, public transit like buses and subways, as well as taxis.
In addition, a city needs infrastructure such as water, electricity, and internet. All of these must be high quality as well to support the growing population of the city.
The last element of the urban environment is nature. While some cities are largely built out and do not have much natural space, there should be some areas that do.
These areas provide some relief from the built up areas and help with air quality and mood. Having some green space is important for mental health and wellbeing.
History of urban cores
The history of urban cores is an important factor that shapes their structure today. When European settlers came to North America, they established cities that were structured like their home countries.
For example, New York City has a similar street grid layout to Dublin, Ireland. Chicago has a famous Loop district that resembles the Parisian arrondissements.
By adopting this familiar structure, it made it easier for people to find their way around the city and establish businesses and homes. It also promoted the growth of the city by encouraging new people to come and settle there.
Over time, however, things change and this affects the city’s structure. Technological advances can cause shifts in how people work and live in a city, for instance. This can either strengthen or weaken the urban core depending on what happens.
Decline of urban cores
Recent years have seen a decline in the importance of the urban core, or the downtown area of a city. The central business district (CBD) has traditionally been a very active and important part of a city, where most jobs are located and services are offered.
As transportation became more accessible and people began to live outside of the city, suburbs grew and CBDs lost some of their population and employment. This was called “white flight” as mostly white people left the city for the suburbs, which sometimes had racial connotations.
The reasons for this decline include increased sprawl due to better transportation options and less expensive housing outside of the city, as well as issues with crime and safety within the CBD. Due to these issues, people are looking for other places to live and work, shifting activity away from the city center.
While many see this as a negative thing, it is actually quite useful for cities to have shifts in activity. It allows for different areas to serve different functions, which helps prevent lack of use or “urban blight” due to lack of activity.
The rise of the suburbs
As we saw in the previous section, the first major shift in American urban development came with the rise of the suburbs.
Suburbs are residential areas that are largely separated from the core city by a large extent of land. They’re usually characterized by low-density housing and their own commercial centers, like shopping malls and business districts.
Suburban development started in the early 20th century, spurred on by innovations in automobile technology. As people could more easily get around from place to place, they began to seek out homes that were farther away from city centers.
This was both for practical reasons (it was easier to get to and from work) and for social ones (people wanted more space and a quieter environment).
As people moved out, cities lost a significant amount of population. In order to keep some level of activity, cities had to develop things like shopping malls and business districts outside of the traditional downtown area.
The countryside is the opposite of the city. The countryside is quiet, peaceful, and relaxing. There are fewer buildings and less activity, and people depend more on nature and their own skills for entertainment.
People who want a change of scenery or quieter surroundings tend to move to the countryside. Because of this, there are many rural retreats available for people to live in.
People who move to the countryside may need to adjust their lifestyle depending on what natural amenities are available. For example, if you don’t have access to clean water, you will need to change your habits to avoid dehydration.
The main drawback of moving to the countryside is that your opportunities for employment, education, and advancement may be limited. You may not have access to advanced technology or education facilities, for example.
Lessons for marketers
As demonstrated by this model, marketers should be paying attention to the way consumers shop and where they shop.
The three stages of shopping strongly correlate with the different types of shopping spaces consumers use. In the pre-shop stage, consumers research products and compare prices and features.
In the in-store stage, they physically go to a store or online site to make a purchase. In the post-shop stage, consumers receive product reviews and recommendations from friends and family.
Marketers can target consumers at each of these stages to promote their products. For example, they can offer promotional codes on their websites or in-store discounts to get more sales after sales have been made. They can also encourage consumer reviews through offers such as free products or discounts on future purchases.