For centuries, the city has been the heart, the lifeblood, of various civilizations, and the center of economic, political, and artistic events. Historically, most people drawn to the city sought to realize their hopes of a higher standard of living and often succeeded. The city is more than what our personal experiences reveal. A dynamic entity unto itself, the city is the most powerful drawing card in human history. The criteria used to define a city are an administrative function, economic characteristics, functional nature, and population density.
The area of the greatest urban growth is now in the developing world, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The 10 countries with the highest urban growth rates are all in these four regions. Once people become aware of the advantages of cities protection, an increased material standard of living, a more stimulating mental and social life. They don’t want to live anywhere else. This urban growth and development can occur in different ways and on several levels.
The changes resulting from people moving into cities and other densely populated areas are what we mean by urbanization. This process can be deliberate and planned and it can also be spontaneous and unplanned. However it occurs, urbanization transforms land use from rural to urban economic activities. This progression in greater population density transforms many patterns of social life, altering the social structure and social organization of that area. These changes include a more complex division of labor and social stratification, the growth of subcultures, and more formal social controls.
The levels of urbanization are the metropolitan area, micropolitan area, megaregion, megacity, and global city. A large population center and adjacent communities, with a high degree of economic and social integration, constitute a metropolitan area. These communities may not be urban in character themselves, but they link closely with the city through transportation. The micropolitan area has an urban core of at least 10,000 residents but less than 50,000. It consists of the county containing the core urban area and any adjacent counties with a high degree of social and economic integration, measured by commuting there to work.
When two or more metropolitan areas expand so that they intermingle with one another to form a continuous urban complex, we have a megaregion or a megalopolis. This merged conglomeration typically contains a population in the tens of millions. A metropolitan area can constitute its own megapolis if the population within its municipal boundary numbers at least 10 million people. Today, 1 in 8 people worldwide live in a megacity. Also called a world city, a global city occupies an influential position in the global economic system, attracting worldwide investments and exercising considerable economic power worldwide. London, New York, Paris, and Tokyo are at the top of the hierarchy of the cities because of their role in the world system of finance and trade.
In downtown areas, we are likely to see well-dressed businesspeople, many of whom live in apartments. Older residential neighborhoods may provide the sights and sounds of cultural diversity. Still, other neighborhoods contain the cities poor, who struggle every day to survive. Lifestyles are, of course, much more than matters of individual choice. They reflect social class differences, often taking the form of social inequality. Women are now likely to hold public office, at least in cities with populations of 25,000 or more. From both historical and contemporary viewpoints, women’s city experiences have reflected the realities of gender, interwoven with those of social class, race, and ethnicity. Social power is another important dimension of inequality. poorer urbanites, often members of racial and ethnic minorities, find that life in the city is a grim matter of trying to cope with seemingly overwhelming forces.
One ecological process is invasion-succession, by which whole sections of a city change. A new “high-tech” area may rather suddenly upstage an old industrial district. Or, the older districts start to look tawdry; secondhand stores, gentleman’s clubs, and pornographic bookstores replace the older, more respectable businesses. Income levels in the area drop and the few remaining original businesses close their doors. The business people are now replaced with drug dealers and prostitutes. The change is complete, invasion-succession may also occur in residential areas as new ethnic groups replace older groups in established neighborhoods.
Postmodernist insists that people have multiple interpretations based on their individual, concrete experiences, not on the abstract principles of “experts”. Therefore, urban planning should still reflect traditional visions, but only through the expression of notions of community, diversity, small-scale approaches, restoration of the older urban fabric, and creation of new spaces that use modern technologies and materials. the city is powered by its people who represent a certain culture. Any city reproduces and intensifies its society’s culture. An example of this is technology.
Sunbelt cities have gained markedly in population during the last decade, compared to midwestern and northeastern cities. Growing significantly were the cities of Louisville, Austin, Fort Worth, Charlotte, San Antiono, and Las Vegas. These changes occurred because older Americans prefer to remain in the community where they spent most of their lives. Second, an increasing amount of business and industry from center cities to escape high taxation and congestion pulling their employees with them.