Reading: Unit 3: What determines the structure of the city?

Mills and Hamilton

            Chapter 1: The Nature of Urban Areas, re-read pages 20-30

            Chapter 4: Trends in sizes and structures of urban areas

            Chapter 13: Urban Transportation

            Chapter 16: Sizes and structures or urban areas

            Optional Readings: Mills and Hamilton Chapter 5, 6 and 7.

            Garreau. Edge City. Finish the book.


Optional: Walking tour of Alexandria. Sunday. Oct 12. 1 pm - 5 pm. Meet at King Street Metro parking lot at 1 pm.

Other reading (All OPTIONAL)

Warner, Sam Bass Jr. Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston 1870-1900


Bottles, Scott. Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City

Schedule: 4 weeks of STRUCTURE.

Tuesday, September 29, 2003

The history, structure driven by technology

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Economics of mode choice

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

No Class

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Economics of Mode Choice – the government decision (tolls, subways, etc.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

            Implications of the Edge City


Paper for unit 2 due Oct 21

It is highly recommended that if you are planning to rewrite papers 1 or 2 that you get at least a first draft of a rewrite in by Tuesday, November 4, 2003.

Paper for Unit 3 will be due Tuesday, November 11, 2003.

Lecture 3.1 – What is the structure of American Cities

Reading: Chapter 1, pp. 20-30, Chapter 4, Chapter 16

I. What determines of the size, structure and location of cities (THEORY)

A. Transporting people

B. Transporting stuff – goods, power, water, sewerage.

B. Construction technology

D. Miscellaneous technology – food surplus, refrigeration, health, etc.

E. Putting it all together: Marginal trade-offs between time, land, and capital.

II. The history of Internal transportation:

A. The walking/wagon city.

B. The street railroad (and for really big cities, the subway. Boston 1899)

C. The automobile and the truck

D. “Virtual” travel – the telegraph, the phone, the radio and T.V.

III. Public Health – allows people to live close together in relative safety

A. Medical Science

B. Technology and organization for water, sewerage systems

III. Construction innovations – makes it physically possible to put people close together

A. structural steel – build up, also build rails, then highways, bridges

B. Safety elevator – build up

C. balloon frame and cheap lumber – build the suburbs

D. innovations in roads (paving), bridges, sewers, aqueducts, civil engineering

E. overcoming the ancient enemy – fire (modern fire departments, modern construction)

IV. Power – makes it increasingly possible to put people and firms ANYWHERE

A. human and animal powered machines

B. water power

C. Coal/Steam power

D. electricity (with a little bit of gas)

V. Artificial cold - Safe food and the sun-belt


VI. Foreign Immigration and native in-migration – makes cities grow faster

A. Transportation technology

B. Brief History – who, what, when, where and why.

C. Impact on city structure

VII. Marginal trade-offs between time, land, and capital.

1. how individual decision makers choose

2. how governments choose

3. what are the market mediated choices, what are the externalities.

City Structure: Lecture 3.2. Choice of transportation, Moving People

Reading: Chapter 13

I. Choices and Trends

A. Walk, bike, in-line skate

B. Rail-streetcar, light rail, commuter rail, subway

C. Bus

D. Auto

E. Commuting v. all other trips

II. The nature of the problems people solve

A. Individuals choose transport mode

B. Firms choose to provide transport for hire

C. Governments choose to build roads and provide mass transit

III. Demand: Model of modal choice (for commuting)

A. Terms-residential collection, line haul, workplace distribution

B. Cost function for person i using mode j.

C. Person chooses mode j which minimizes ALL costs

D. Planner estimates parameters for total population of commuters


Minimize cost of commuting = f(C, V*T, X)

Where: C = money cost, V=value of time, T=time, X=all other factors

IV. Basic Economics – Private Goods, Public Goods, Common Resources & Natural Monopoly

A. Externalities – people choose based on private costs, not on the congestion they cause.

B. Total benefit > total cost & Marginal Cost = Marginal Benefit at optimum

C. Marginal Cost = Price produces right level of consumption

D. Natural monopoly (high fixed costs) – rail systems are natural monopolies

IV. Supply of Roads: Building roads, Pricing congestion

A. Marginal cost = 0 if roads never crowded

B. Marginal cost > 0 if adding one more car to the road slows everyone else down

C. Requirements for perfectly efficient pricing (constant costs per car)

D. Technology of pricing

E. Other options: gas tax, car tax, parking tax, subsidize other types of transit

V. Supply of Mass transit

A. Natural Monopoly

B. High population density necessary

Lecture 3.3

Mills and Hamilton: Chapter 16 on urban structure (5, 6 and 7 are optional reading)

Joel Garreau, Edge City. Especially chapters 1, 2, 4, and 10.

I. Roads, traffic and growth

            A. Why adding roads cannot increase average travel times, ceteris paribus

            B. Comparing short run and long run equilibria

            C. Comparing effect of a local increase v. a national increase in roads

I. Size (Are the big cities too big?)

A. Externalities mean markets may not produce cities of optimal size

            1. If negative externalities increase with city size, cities will be too big.

            2. If positive externalities increase with city size, cities will be too small.

B. Lots of all sorts of externalities in both dense and sprawling cities, no clear policy implications.

II. Suburbanization – history and causes

            A. Measuring sprawl – how dense is the center compared to the suburbs

B. Sprawl increasing since the 1880s, in U.S. and around the world.

C. Old cities have more density in the center compared to their own suburbs

D. Therefore conclude changes in transportation technology biggest cause

E. Other causes: white flight and political fragmentation

III. Is sprawl a problem?

A. What we know:

1. suburbanization lowers land values in central city,

2. suburbanization raises land values along city edge, closes farms.

3. suburbanization decreases the cost of housing

B. possible market failures that might increase sprawl above the “optimal” level

1. Underpriced pollution and transportation - economically small

2. Land use controls (zoning) – economically small, but growing

3. Conclusion – market failures small, “sprawl” not an economic failure.

C. Why do so many think “sprawl” is the problem of 21st century cities?

1. Why central city dwellers might dislike sprawl - Different tastes for urban externalities.

            2. Why people already in the suburbs dislike (more) sprawl.

3. Maybe our simple models miss the important, complex externalities - aesthetics

D. Return to the city movement

1. Modest, but real – biggest central cities saw modest pop growth in last census.

2. Who is moving into the central cities: “yuppies” and new immigrants

V. City-suburban income differences

A. Poor in central cities – mass transit, old housing, zoning and exclusionary practices.

B. Costs of segregation – Spatial mismatch of people and jobs, poor schools

C. Segregation falling – poor and of black and Hispanic population moving to suburbs.

D. But many of the problems of poverty are the result of being poor, not location.