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Central Business District essay

The central business district (CBD) acts as the most important part of a city where the businesses are found along with the commercial activities in the centre of the city, forming what is known as the core. The CBD is a gradational fragmented zone rather than a single line that can actually be found.

There are many important factors that contribute to the growth of the CBD. More purchasing power, better transportation and a larger population are preliminary conditions that have occurred as a slow process in their convergence after 1870. Other conditions that occurred over time include the economies of scale, the elimination of middlemen, the growth and location of dime stores, a need for financial exports and the vertical growth of buildings in the CBD. Changes in technology and the effects on the CBD during the later 1800’s will be discussed. Street patterns and block sizes will be touched on briefly with examples of why they are important factors in the growth of the CBD. In terms of retail location, there are certain principles that will be outlined and explained. It is clear that the CBD is an extremely important part of a city as it provides its citizens with the convenience of easily accessed goods and services because of improvement in transportation and other developments in the centre of the city. The core of the city has undergone many changes which began as a benefit for society and for each business or industry within the district. This paper will illustrate that all the factors previously mentioned are what keep a city and a society functioning in the easiest yet most beneficial way possible.

A Brief History of the CBD

The central business district began as a “retail-commercial district” and transformed into an “office-commercial complex” from the turn of to the middle of the century. From mid century to now, the CBD has changed again to a “convention-tourist-entertainment centre” in the larger cities. In cities that are not as large, the CBD still remains a “retail-commercial” centre. Between 1840 and 170, industrial and commercial industries expanded as retail spread from place to place. Retail was mixed between warehousing and finance. The industrial sector began to decrease as other sectors expanded in the downtown area by 1870 and 1900 as well as wholesaling. The Industrial Revolution was an important turning point for the changes in the growth of the CBD.

Important Factors in the Growth of the CBD

The Industrial Revolution was the beginning of the preliminary conditions that were brought into the CBD after 1870. More purchasing power appeared in the CBD resulting from the Industrial Revolution. There was more money available to people because of the expansion of the city after the revolution which in turn gave people the desire to buy more goods. The retail sector therefore gained more purchasing power as the industrial sector expanded and hired more people. The spending habits of urban families also show the importance of travel and transportation. The second preliminary condition was the increase of better transportation. The streetcar became important with the expansion of retail in the downtown area. Again, when there are more people, there is more money to circulate and build a better CBD. With better transportation, more people are attracted to the city centre because it is more convenient for shopping in the different sections and stores in the area. Lastly, population is a huge factor in the growth of the CBD. Growth being the key word, we can say that when there is a larger population, there is growth in a community with jobs and transportation creating more money and expanding the city outwards. Immigration is the reason for the rapid expansion and population growth in cities after 1870. Immigration continues to be a factor in the extended population and expansion of cities all over the world. Some other factors that affect the growth of the CBD are the conditions that change over time but not as slow as the preliminary conditions. Economies of scale deal with production and selling of goods. The more goods that are produced means that there are more goods to be sold and eventually the products will be cheaper depending on the amounts that are selling. For example, large numbers of VCR’s were produced and sold. The more that were produced, the more that were sold. When the DVD player came out, the prices of the VCRs decreased and sold and the DVD players began to sell as more were made of the new product. The prices eventually drop and sell more rapidly until people are used to the next new product. Another factor is the ‘cut out’ of middlemen by the manufacturers.. It was cheaper to buy goods from a retail store and transportation was available and easy to acquire. The growth of dime stores and there locations at the transport stops contributed in the growth of the CBD because it costs less to transport goods when the stores were located directly at the stops. Dime stores, as there name suggests, were what we call bargain shops today. They were cheap and convenient. The growth of the finance centre began with the need for financial exports. More people were needed to handle the money that entered into the CBD. With the growth of the finance centre, the growing height of buildings became a factor. The vertical growth of buildings resulted in retail pushing industry and wholesale out to the side which was beneficial for the growth of finance. Population is what was wanted from this change and the overall vertical growth produced many technology changes and positive effects on the CBD.

Changes in Technology and Effects on the CBD

Before 1880, buildings were constructed with dense building stone and the strength of the walls determined the height that the building would be able to reach. If a taller building was wanted, the walls would have to be constructed extremely thick to support the weight. The thick walls proved to be a waste of space in the CBD.. New technology was the solution to this problem and the beginning of a new city. At the beginning of the 19th century, iron girders were used as part of the industrial framing system and support for building height. In 1847, Henry Fiedler came up with a technique to make beams with cast and wrought iron sections. Rivets were used with angles and plates to make connections. ( “Wrought iron was used in tension since it was twice as strong as cast iron; cast iron was used mostly in struts or columns.” The stress was no longer on the walls of the building structure but on the girders instead. The vertical growth of the city expanded and buildings could be constructed in less stable areas since the buildings were supported by iron bars. The vertical growth of the cities posed the question of transportation from the bottom to the top since stairs were not a reasonable suggestion for travelling the number of floors that were constructed within the building. This is when the invention and introduction of the elevator appeared. In the mid 1800’s, the elevator was introduced as a safe means of vertical transportation in the new enhanced vertical buildings. The increase in height also presented a need for improvement of materials in the areas of stability and safety precautions such as fire proofing and communication because of the stronger winds that are present at higher elevations. The result of the vertical growth began with a large number of new offices that were built due to the verticalness equalling the addition of space and moved to the improvement of the concentration of employment. A problem that occurred with the vertical growth was the congestion of the people at certain times of the day and with their cars since parking was limited and more people were working and traveling around the core. Bigger freeways and multi-level parking had hoped to solve this problem but instead more cars caused more congestion so the subway became the most relevant means of transportation in the improved CBD. The vertical growth made way for improvement of new street patterns and block sizes in the CBD as well.

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