The city life and the country life have had a harmonious relationship since centuries but at the same time the two differ in terms of economy, occupation and lifestyles. It is very difficult to assess how and when the first city originated. In the words of Gist and Halbert, “Like the origin of civilization itself the origin of the city is lost in the obscurity of the past”. A city is comparatively dense, populated and the inhabitants secure their livelihood from non-agricultural occupation. The masses of a city also depend on the rural agricultural production for food and other agro-products.
The account of the world’s first city is found in the Mesopotamia region between Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Indus valley Civilization and the Yellow River of China. The primary condition that was considered for the development of cities was a sufficiently productive economy for the city dwellers who did not grow the primary means of food for themselves. Eridu, Uruk and Ur were the Mesopotamian cities. Mohenjo-daro of Indus Valley was one of the largest cities of earlier times. It had an estimated population of 50,000 or more. The second condition that was noticed in the growth of cities is the system of stratification by which a group dominated and controlled the resources for surplus use (D.C Bhattacharyya, 2012).
Lewis Mumford in “The City in History” (1961) mentioned that the earliest cities were places used to bury the dead.
The cities of the pre-industrial period were separated from the countryside by walls. There were market places for fulfilling the needs of the people but those cities were not centres for business like the modern cities. The administrative activities and religious purposes took place in the cities more than trade and commerce. There were holy places, temples, palaces or courts which were the main buildings that existed in the pre-Industrial types of cities.
The rigid class system separated the place of residence of the elite section and the lower classes. As a result of which the ruling or elite class lived at the centre of the city while the lower strata stayed in the periphery or outskirt areas.
Causes of the growth of cities
The growth and development of cities has close connections with the increase of population and expansion of industrialization. Industrialization swept drastic changes in the society with increased production and introduced the system of division of labour. The goods produced as a result of advancement in the production system had to be supplied in different places and were necessary to be introduced in the market. This required labour force, means of transport, construction of shops, markets and business premises. This is how population started to grow in an industrial area. To meet the needs of the newly grown population a few educational, cultural and other institutions started. This growth of population created a heterogeneous society making lifestyles of the people more complex. All these situations were the key behind the development of cities.
When a place consists of a University, High Court, Medical facilities and other beneficial centres it is natural that there will be an influx of population from the surrounding areas. The influence of industrialization contributed to this growth. The towns on the sea coast turned into big cities and there was a system of import and export. Most of the goods and supplies were received and sent via ships through waterways. This is how the rapid emergence of cities took place in ancient times.
Theories concerning the growth of a city
Sociologists like Ernest Burgess, Homer Hoyt, Chauncy Harris and Edward Ullman have developed three different types of theories to explain the growth of cities.
1. Concentric Zone Theory: According to this theory explained by Ernest Burgess, a city develops through a series of concentric zones, each having a different functions and residential features. The main zone in the concentric theory is the central business district (CBD) which is the place of transition with a mixture of residential and commercial activities. The latter is the zone of workers’ homes where the blue collar workers lived. Followed by this is the middle class zone inhabited by white collar workers and professionals. Next to middle class zone is the commuters zone where the elite section – upper middle and upper class administrators and professionals lived.
This theory has been criticized by many theorists because no city can be studied exactly the way this model describes.
2. Sector Model: This propagated by Homer Hoyt which argues that large cities have been created from a number of sectors rather than concentric zones. The direction and growth are generally based on transportation and spreads from existing built up areas.
3. Multiple Nuclei Theory: Both the above mentioned theories more or less explain the existence of a CBD. The Multiple Nuclei model proposed by Harris and Ullman explain that the previous two theories are not applicable to the modern cities. A modern city has not only a centre but many business centres along with industrial as well as residential areas.