Origin and Growth of Towns

Origin of towns: Topographical Features
If a survey is carried out regarding the origin of some of the important existing towns and cities of the world, it can be easily established that any town or city has originated because of certain specific cause. The origin of towns can be broadly classified into two categories, namely, topographical and functional.                      
The topographical features of origin of towns are as follows.
1.    Conditions favorable for industrial units
2.    Hilly areas to achieve the objects of defense
3.    Plain areas useful for business activities
4.    River banks
5.    Sea or ocean fronts
The functional aspects of origin of towns are as follows.
1.    Education
2.    Health resorts
3.    Political
4.    Community
Growth of Town
The towns grow during passage of time in number of ways and various forces which contribute to the overall development of a town are transportation facilities, industries, safety for public, proximity of agricultural lands, availability of electric power, political importance, etc. Some of the reasons why the people would like to stay in urban areas can be enumerated as follows.
  • It is quite likely that people have often found to stay in groups or societies to safeguard themselves from dangers of theft.
  • The humans by nature are social animal and they get much satisfaction of living their life in the company of friends and community.
  •  An urban man can develop contacts and make friends with like-minded people having common interest.
  • The urban dwellers can maintain a very high degree of privacy.
  • The urban are provide with reliable water supply, good market for business, large amount of opportunities to succeed, etc.

Also the facilities of transport and communication increase the population and leads to the growth of towns. The means of transport may take up the following forms:
  •  Aerial ports : In some cases, the airports plays an important role in the growth of a town.
  • Railways : If the town is connected with railways, there will be increase of passengers and goods traffic even from long distances.
  • Roadways : The neighbouring area is connected with the town and it leads to overall expansion of trade and industry.
  • Waterways : If facilities of waterways are available, the town can grow as a harbour with possibility of foreign trade and business.

The above mentioned means of transport have led to the horizontal growth of town. But the availability of mechanical lifts, escalators and elevators has made it possible to have vertical growth of town in the form of skyscrapers.
Types of growth of towns
Types of Growth of Town
The growth of towns and cities can be studied in the following two ways:
     I) Growth according to origin
     II) Growth according to direction 
1) Growth According to Origin
The growth of towns and cities according to the origin can be divided in two categories.
A) Natural Growth
Most of the towns in the past have grown in a natural way, that is, the development of the town as such has taken place without any future planning. The provisions of various essential amenities such as road system, parks, playgrounds, schools, industrial units, commercial centres, hospitals, cinemas, etc., are made in an irregular way without consideration for future expansion of the town. The natural growth of a town may be in the form of following four types.
a)      Concentric spread
b)      Ribbon development
c)      Satellite growth
d)     Scattered growth

a) Concentric Spread
  •  It is the natural tendency of the people to be as near as possible to town or city, therefore the town develops in form of concentric rings with nucleus as town.
  • These type of growth create many complicated problems such as traffic congestion, narrow streets,concentration of population, improper housing, etc.
  • The town growth is represented by a series of concentric circles or rings.
  • The first zone represents central business like commercial and social life of the town.
  • The second zone represents low-income housing, better-class residences and high-class residences are subsequently formed.
  • The idea of concentric spread is based on the fact that similar or functionally related activities will be located at the same distance from the centre of an urban area.

Concentric spread
b) Ribbon Development
  • It has been observed that because of improvement of road surface and growth of motor traffic, everyone build or occupy the places as near as possible to the main road.
  • The building activity therefore expands in a natural way along the sides of main road and long fingers or ribbons of houses, factories, shops, etc., develop as show in figure below.

 Ribbon development
  •  As houses extend in a long strip or ribbon, there is increase in cost of utility services such as water supply and electricity, postal deliveries, etc.
  • It results into wastage of available resources.
  • It lacks social life as ribbon development causes scatter of community.
  • The future improvement becomes costly and difficult, in some place it becomes impossible.
  • The interior place are left undeveloped which results in wastage of valuable land.
  • It causes accidents and traffic delays (jams) due to pedestrians on the main road.
  • The traffic capacity and efficiency of main road are reduced.
  • The ribbon development spoils the countryside view as it becomes non-visible at least for road users.
  • The problem of ribbon development is complex involving social-economic, political, technical and legal measures for its solution.

c) Satellite Growth
When a town reaches a certain size, satellite growth is bound to take place. The satellite town is mainly due to the metropolis and it indicate a body under the influence of a more powerful body but possessing its own identity. Development of satellite towns around the parent city is shown in the figure below.

Satellite growth
The features of a satellite town are as follows.
  •  It has its own local government and corporate life.
  • It is a town in the full sense but it depends to a certain extent upon a nearby large town or city.
  • It is connected to the parent city by local trains, buses, etc. in such a way the people can reach to the parent city easily.
  • It is free to decide its economic, social and cultural activities.
  • It is generally situated beyond the green belt of the parent city.
  • It is mainly residential area having only local shops, schools for children, etc.
  • No industries are permitted, the people will have to depend on the parent city for employment opportunities.
  • It is neither a village nor a suburb.
  • It need not have zoning regulations.
  • Its size and development are controlled in such a way that it does not affect the parent town in future.
  • The satellite may even be considered to be the part of market for some goods and services from the parent town.
  • The workers living in particular satellite may belong to the labour force of a certain industry. It gives a wider choice to the employers of such industries for finding the best man for the job.

  • The main disadvantage of satellite growth is the necessity of the long journey to work. (It may be long journey in distance does not necessarily mean a long journey in time due to efficient modes of transport and traffic).
  • Satellite growth may be deprived of entertainment and cultural activity.
  • It is responsible for preventing the development of a community spirit.
  • Lack of community centres and halls.

d) Scattered Growth
  • The growth of the town takes place in very irregular way.
  • It results in traffic congestion.
  • Encroachment of industries on residential areas.
  • Development of slums.
  • Lack of parks and various other problems which prove to be too difficult to be solved in future.

B) Planned Growth
In case of a planned growth, a town develops in a pre-determined line as conceived by the town planner. The overall growth of the town is controlled by the enforcement of suitable rules and regulations. There is rational distribution of various blocks such as residential, industrial, commercial, etc.
The provision of various amenities such as widths of streets, drainage lines, water supply lines, parks, playgrounds, etc. is made to meet with the future requirements. The modern concepts of town planning can very well be seen and appreciated in some of the recent new towns in many parts of the world.
 2) Growth According to Direction
With respect to direction, the growth of towns and cities can take place in the following two ways.
1. Horizontal Growth
The town expands and develops horizontally in all directions. It is clear that such a growth will be possible at places where land is available in plenty at nominal cost.
  • In general, there will be saving in cost as the buildings will usually consist of two or three floors.
  • It does not require the service of high technical personnel.
  • Maximum possible use of the natural light in the buildings.
  • The density of the population can be restricted.
  • There is economy of floor space as the provision of columns, lifts, etc. will not be required.
  • The surrounding marginal space can be utilized for developing gardens.

  •  It uses more land and hence, it will prove to be uneconomical where the land value are very high.
  • The foundation cost per unit area will be more.
  • There will be absence of group living.

2. Vertical Growth
The buildings of the town are designed and developed as multistoried flats. It is quite evident that such a growth will be possible at places where land is costly.
  •  A sense of group living and unity develops as many families live in same building.
  • The foundation cost will be distributed between all the floors, therefore the foundation cost per unit area will be in the reasonable limit.
  • For floor above certain height, the natural sceneries such as sea view, river view, etc. can be enjoyed in a better way.
  • It will be possible to make maximum use of the modern technology such as fire-proofing, sound-proofing, heat insulation, air-conditioning, high speed elevators, etc.
  • There will be considerable saving in land and hence, it will prove to be economical where land values are very high.
  • There will be economy in construction cost as the buildings will be designed as framed structures with repetition of a typical floor plan at each floor level.

  • In case of natural calamities such as earthquakes or fire, it will be difficult for the inhabitants (dwellers) of the upper floors to escape safely.
  • The density of population will be more.
  • The design of flats will be stereo-typed and there is no scope for personal likes or dislikes.
  • The evils of group living will have to be tolerated.
  • The failure of lift, pumps, etc. will cause great inconvenience.
  • The people staying at upper floors will be deprived of natural living near the ground level.
  • There will be some wastage of floor space as lifts, supporting columns, etc. will have to be provided.



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