Intro to the City Studyguide 1

Ch. 1 Origins of the City

Relation between city size and trade area

“Replacement rate”


Ch. 2 American City in the Nineteenth Century

Immigration & natural increase as factors in 19th century US growth

“Railroad flat”

Typical urban density—200 people on 2500 square foot lot

Key issues:

a.       conditions of housing for the poor

b.      public transportation

c.       parks, playgrounds, urban design

Western cities founded as commercial ventures by Easterners

Frederick Jackson Turner’s “frontier hypothesis”

“Dispersing forces” by end of 19th Century:

a.       commuting

b.      electric trolley

c.       bedroom communities

d.      suburban retail strips


Ch. 3 Emergence of Metropolitan America

Decentralizing forces:

a.       Automobile & trucking

b.      Growth in personal income

c.       Decrease in length of work work

d.      Communication technology

e.       Entertainment technology

f.        Freeways

Problem with public transportation:

a.       collection problem

b.      distribution problem

Victor Gruen designed the first shopping center at Northland (Detroit) in 1951 (the first enclosed shopping center—mall—was Southdale around 1954).

Models of metropolitan physical form:

a.       concentric zone (Burgess)—based on invasion & succession

b.      sectoral model (Hoyt)

c.       multiple nuclei (Harris & Ullman)

d.      edge city (Garreau)

Central city’s economic and demographic trends are linked to the region in which it is located:

a.       auto created shift to lower densities

b.      loss of manufacturing in central city

c.       suburbanization of income

Ch. 4 City Government 1

  1. Forms of city government
    1. Policy vs. administrative roles
    2. Weak mayor/council

                                                               i.      Growth of political machines

    1. Reform governments

                                                               i.      Commission

                                                             ii.      Manager/Council

    1. Strong mayor/Council
  1. Constraints on local government
    1. Dillon’s rule
    2. Merit system
    3. Competitive bids
  2. Reinventing government
    1. Efficiency—or effectiveness?
    2. Privatization

                                                               i.      Lower labor costs

                                                             ii.      Economies of scale

                                                            iii.      No efficiency without competition

    1. Quasi-governmental units (school districts, special districts, etc.)

                                                               i.      Port authorities

                                                             ii.      Intergovernmental cooperation (RDCs, COGs)

                                                            iii.      Consolidation (vs. “Tiebout hypothesis”)

Ch. 5 City Government 2

1. Community Power

a. Pluralism (“political stratum” vs. constituency; stratum is neither homogeneous nor hard to enter)

b. Elites

c. Regimes & “Growth Machine”

2. Political Economy of Cities

a. City limits (openness to national & other external factors)

b. Public Choice theory

c. Political economy” theory

i. government largely serves interests of capital

ii. pervasiveness of class conflict

                                                           iv.      cities are nodes in global capitalist system

                                                             v.      consumer demand manipulated by producers


Ch. 6 City Finances

Much of the revenue collected by the Federal government is transferred to other units; substate (local) government provides the largest share of public service.

Public education takes the largest share of local government funding. Public welfare is the largest county expense. Utilities is the largest municipal expense.

Sources of local government revenue:

a.       transfers & grants (24%)

b.      fees & licenses (21%)

c.       property tax (16%)

d.      sales tax (9%)

e.       local income tax (7%)

f.        investments (4%)

Property tax:

a.       40% goes to schools (rest divided between city & county)

b.      government and nonprofit property does not pay property tax

c.       property tax not directly tied to ability to pay—so “homestead exemptions” and “circuit breakers”

d.      “fiscal zoning”—using land-use controls to generate mix of uses that will hold down property tax

Borrowing (“municipal bond”)

a.       capital expenditures tend to be “lumpy”

b.      “user benefit equity”—those who benefit should pay the cost

c.       municipal debt is limited by statute (6.67% of total assessed value, in Minnesota)

d.      bonds can be used only to finance capital expenditures

e.       types of bonds:

1.      general obligation (GO)—many states require ballot measure

2.      revenue—no debt limits

f.        bond rating (Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s)

Budget—two parts, operating (must balance each year) and capital. Generally prepared by mayor/administrator, and adopted by council

“Fiscal disparity” problem—communities that need the most help have lowest capacity to provide it (“Minnesota Miracle”—Fiscal Disparities Act—shared the property tax base among the Twin Cities metropolitan communities).






1996 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 15 September 2003