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Urban Geography

Updated on May 12, 2010

Welcome To Urban Geography!

This page is a short guide to the fascinating field of Urban Geography.  It explains some of the ideas encompassed in the study of Urban Geography, as well as some of it's applications to your everyday life.

Hong Kong at Night
Hong Kong at Night

What is Urban Geography?

The Definition of Urban Geography, as Wikipedia sees It:

Urban geography is the study of urban areas. That is the study of areas which have a high concentration of buildings and infrastructure. These are areas where the majority of economic activities are in the secondary sector and tertiary sectors. They often have a high population density.

Urban geography is that branch of science, which deals the study of urban areas,in terms of concentration,infrastructure,economy and environmental impacts.

It can be considered a part of the larger field of human geography. However, it can often overlap with other fields such as anthropology and urban sociology. Urban geographers seek to understand how factors interact over space, what function they serve and their interrelationships. Urban geographers also look at the development of settlements. Therefore, it involves planning city expansion and improvements. Urban geography, then, attempts to account for the human and environmental impacts of the change. Urban geography focuses on the city in the context of space throughout countries and continents.

Urban Geographers as General Practitioners

Urban Geographers, as well as most other geographers, can be likened to a General Practitioner. GPs, or your family doctor, have a little knowledge in lots of areas instead of being a specialist in one. This allows the GP to diagnose many problems, and recommend that you see a specialist only when the need arises. In this same way, an Urban Geographer has to take information from many different fields of study, such as sociology, history, anthropology, and psychology, and fit it all into a cohesive concept that will help the community in which he works.

Geographers will use all of these different fields of study to determine the cultural, religious, political, and economic aspects of a region. From here, they can decide what the best course of action will be in a multitude of different areas. For this reason, Urban Geographers are usually employed by local and state governments, as well as consulting companies that work closely with these governments and the local community.

Urban Transportation

Urban transportation has been a hot topic for many years. Many feel that we should be able to move people and goods in, around, through and out of our cities with the most efficient methods possible. If we need to build a freeway to facilitate this movement, so be it. Others, usually New Urbanists, will tell you that transportation of this type is bad for the city, as it causes us to be too spread out, losing our sense of community.

Transportation experts focus on three main areas:

  1. Nodes - the links between different forms of transportation
  2. Networks - the means of transportation. Roads, rail, airports, seaports and subway/ light rail systems all fit into this category
  3. Demand - obviously, the demand for different types of transportation, and the ability to implement new systems

Transportation has different meanings in different parts of the world. In the US, for instance, we focus mainly on freeways. We do have a rail network set up, but currently it consists mainly of local light rail, local subway systems, and heavy rail for the transport of goods. We focus on interstates because our country is much too big for a comprehensive rail network like the one that the uropeans have, and we have relied almost exclusively on automobiles for our primary means of transportation since the end of World War II.

There is currently a movement to implement a much broader rail network througout the country, and many rail systems (high speed and otherwise) are currently in operation or are being planned and built. A few good examples are the Eastern Seaboard, San Diego to San francisco, and the Gulf Coast (in the planning stages). The Texas Triangle (Houston, San Antonio, Dallas) tried to implement a high speed rail system during the early 1990s, but it failed due to the massive costs of such a system.

So, What Exactly CAN You Do With A Degree in Geography?

For many people, geography is one of those courses that you take because the school said you had to. Most people, though, do not realize just how many careers you can can have with a degree in geography. Here is a short list of occupations, grouped by type.

Physical Geography

  • Meteorologist
  • Climatologist
  • Environmental Manager
  • National Park Service Ranger

Human Geography

  • Urban Designer
  • Economic Development
  • Commercial/ Residential Real Estate Development
  • Transportation Management

Others/ Both Disciplines

  • Cartographer
  • GIS Specialist
  • CIA
  • FBI
  • College Professor
  • High School/ Middle School Teacher
  • Author
  • Researcher

Over 50% of the world's population will soon live in urban areas. Do you think that this will benefit our species?

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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Geography is very undervalued. This is a good post. I'm an urban explorer. I like to know the history and geography about everywhere I explore. I don't know very much, but I do what I can as an amateur.

    • profile image

      Talibita Moses 5 years ago

      Well, this was Kawa!