Tracking the Evolution of the Populations of a System of Cities

  • Alan WilsonEmail author
  • Joel Dearden
Part of the Understanding Population Trends and Processes book series (UPTA, volume 4)


The exploration of the evolution of systems of cities has a long history – illustrated by Berry’s (1964) classic paper. In this chapter we take a simple model that is usually used for modelling the evolution of retail centres within a city and re-interpret it as a model of a system of cities. The retail model is outlined initially and its ‘system’ interpretation thereafter. We then explain the idea of urban ‘DNA’ and its evolution. This is followed by a description of the current system of interest – the evolution of Chicago from 1790 to 1870 in the context of the development of the United States in that period with particular reference to railways. Some results are presented that explore the evolution of the populations of cities in this system and some of the many possible avenues for further research are discussed in the concluding section.


Economic Activity Railway Line Feature Marker Census Record Historical Geography 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College LondonLondonUK

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