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Agricultural Surplus

The amount of food grown by a society that exceeds the demands of its population, which can then be sold for consumption by others; one of two components (along with social stratification) that enabled the formation of cities.


Legally adding land area to a city in the U.S.

Bid-rent theory

geographical economic theory that refers to how the price and demand on real estate changes as the distance away from the CBD increases.


Process by which real estate agents convince white property owner to sell their houses at low prices because of fear that persons of color will soon move into the neighborhood.

Central Business District

The central portion of a city, characterized by high density land uses; the area of a city where retail and office activities are clustered. Marked by high land values, a concentration of business and concentration, and clustering of the tallest buildings.

Centralizing Forces

Diffusion forces that encourage people or businesses to locate in the central city.

Census Tracts

An area delineated by the U.S. Bureau of the Census for which statistics are published; in urbanized areas, census tracts correspond roughly to neighborhoods

Concentric Zone Model

A model of internal structure of cities in which social groups are spatially arranged in a series of rings.

Conurbanization (Megalopolis)

Term used to designate large coalescing supercities (or multimetropolitan corridors) that are forming in diverse parts of the world; Megalopolis was formerly used specifically with an uppercase "M" to refer to the Boston-Washington multimetropolitan corridor, but now often used generaically with a lower-case "m."

Decentralizing Forces

The tendency of people or businesses and industry to locate outside the central city.

Defensive Site

A location where a city can be easily defended.

Density Gradient

The change in density in an urban area from the center to the periphery

Edge Cities

A large node of office and retail activities on the edge of an urban area...term that describes the shifting focus of urbanization away from the CBD toward new loci of economic activity at the urban fringe. Characterized by extensive amounts of office and retail space and modern buildings.


Person who has left the inner city and moved to outlying suburbs or rural areas.


A process of change in the use of a house, from single-family owner occupancy to abandonment

Functional Zonation

The division of a city into different regions or zones (e.g. residential or industrial) for certain purposes or functions (e.g. housing or manufacturing)


A process of converting an urban neighborhood from a predominately low income, renter-occupied area to a predominately middle class owner-occupied area.


A ring of land maintained as parks, agriculture, or other types of open space to limit the sprawl of an urban area


Term that means applies to a surrounding area served by an urban center. That center is the focus of goods and services produced for its hinterland.

Isotropic plane

2 dimensional, flat plane, featureless landscape...Central Place Theory assumes the existence of an isotropic plane.


City with a very high population, usually at least 10 million. Many are located in LDCs, and are plagued by chaotic and unplanned growth, terrible pollution, and widespread poverty.

Metropolitan Statistical Area

In the United States, a central city of at least 50,000 population, the county within which the city is located, and adjacent counties meeting one of several tests indicating a functional connection to the central city.

Micropolitan Statistical Area

An urbanized area of between 10,000 and 50,000 inhabitants, the county in which it is found, and adjacent counties tied to the city.

Multiple Nuclei Model

A model of internal structure of cities in which social groups are arranged around a collection of nodes of activities.

New Urbanism

An urban design movement that calls for development, urban revitalization, and suburban reforms that create sustainable, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods with a diversity of housing and jobs.

Primate City

The largest settlement in a country, if it has more than twice as many people as the second ranked the city most expressive of the national culture.

Public Housing

Housing owned by the government, in the United States, it is rented to residents with low incomes, and the rents are set at 30 percent of the families' income


A process by which banks draw lines on a map and refuse to lend money to purchase or improve property within the boundaries.

Scattered site

Site in which dwellings are dispersed throughout throughout the city rather than clustered in one area

Sector Model

A model of internal structure of cities in which social groups are arranged around a series of pie-shaped wedges radiating out from the CBD.

Smart Growth

Legislation and regulations to limit suburban sprawl and preserve farmland

Squatter Settlement

An area with a city in a less developed country in which people illegally establish residences on land they do not own or rent and erect self-made structures.


A subsidiary urban area surrounding and connected to the central city. Many are exclusively residential; others have their own commercial centers of shopping malls.


A group in society prevented from participating in the material benefits of a major developed society because of a variety of social and economic characteristics.

Urban Renewal

Program in which cities identify blighted inner-city neighborhoods, acquire the properties from private owners, relocated the residents and businesses, clear the site, build new roads and utilities, and turn the land over to private developers

Urban Morphology

The study of the physical form and structure of urban places; the form and structure of cities, including street patterns and the size and shape of cities.

Urban Sprawl

Low-density "leapfrog" developments beyond urban edge,
lack of coordinated planning between jurisdictions, consequence of car-dependent urban growth; unrestricted growth in many American urban areas of housing, commercial development, and roads over large expanses of land, with little concern for urban planning.

White Flight

The abandonment of cities by affluent or middle-class white residents. White flight was particularly problematic during the mid-20th century because it resulted in the loss of tax revenues to cities, which led to inner-city decay. This process reversed itself somewhat during the 1990s and 2000s with urban revitalization projects.

World City (Global City)

Dominant city in terms of its role in the global political economy. Not the world's biggest cities in terms of population or industrial output, but rather the centers of strategic control of the world economy

Zone in transition

area of missed residential and commercial land use surrounding the CBD. In the Concentric Zone Model, is occupied by low-income workers

Zoning Ordinances

A law the limits the permitted uses of land and maximum density of development in a community

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