Contemporary Urban Environments 2


Cities develop in lots of different ways as they urbanise:


  • Cities attract people from rural areas because they offer more job opportunities, and jobs are often better paid.
  • As the urban population increases, businesses, such as factories and shops, grow in size and become more profitable. This leads to more jobs and wage rises.
  • As countries develop, commercial farming overtakes subsistence farming as the primary method of food production. The decline in agricultural jobs drives even more people into towns and cities.


  • Cities tend to have higher living standards than rural areas, e.g. better access to healthcare and education, which attracts people. As more people move to a city and the economy grows, it can become a centre for cultural expression, e.g. museums and art galleries open.
  • The migration of people into urban areas increases the mix of people from different social backgrounds. This can make people more tolerant of others, creating a welcoming environment that attracts more migrants. However, segregation of people from different social backgrounds is also common.


  • With the emergence of factories in cities, urban areas become hotspots for technological advancement, e.g. in the 19th century, Manchester became the first industrialised city in the world and was branded 'Cottonopolis' because of its cotton-processing factories.
  • More recently, areas with a large number of high-tech industries have emerged, e.g. Silicon Valley in California. These areas attract people because they offer specialised and highly paid jobs.


  • Urban growth may lead to increased inequalities between rich and poor people. A new 'working class' emerges, often made up of people who work in manufacturing industries.
  • New political movements emerge to represent the 'working class' population. Political reform focuses on issues that affect urban life, e.g. poor sanitation, quality of housing, working conditions in factories.


  • As cities become larger and wealthier, they attract migrants from all over the world. Urban areas become more culturally and ethnically diverse and new areas emerge, e.g. Chinatown in New York City.
  • Many young people are attracted by jobs and entertainment. They often choose to stay and raise families in the city, so cities tend to have a younger population than rural areas.

Cities in developed countries have undergone several processes of change in the…


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