Latin American City Model - The Textbook Approach

Thank you for your participation and evaluation of our Urban Geography course.

The goal of this lesson is to introduce you to the concept of the Latin American City model.

The entire course is composed of two parts: The lesson itself and a quick assessment. After completing the lesson, please complete the assessment questions. When you are done, please click on the "Finish course" button on the homepage. The entire course with assessments will take approximately 20 - 30 minutes.

We are not evaluating you but rather, we want to see which method is better for teaching.  

Thanks for your feedback!

- Ken & Marlena

 

The South American City - The lesson

Introduction

The Latin American City model attempts to explain the typical city in Latin America.  It depicts the typical divisions we find in how the land is used.  

In your reading which follows next, try and find those parts of the text that give you a better understanding of the parts of the model.  What are you reading that relates to the information below?

A New and Improved Model of Latin American Structure

In 1980, geographers Ernst Griffin and Larry Ford studied South American cities and derived a model of the South American city referred to as the Griffin-Ford model. Griffin and Ford found that South American cities blend traditional elements of South American culture with the forces of globalization that are reshaping the urban scene, combining radial sectors and concentric zones.

Anchoring the model is the thriving CBD, which remain in the city's primary business, employment, and entertainment focus. The CBD is divided into a traditional market sector and a more modern high-rise sector. Adequate public transit systems and nearby affluent residential areas assure the dominance of the CBD. Emanating outward from the urban core along the city's most prestigious axis is the commercial spine, which is surrounded by the elite residential sector. This widening corridor is essentially an extension of the CBD. It features offices, shopping, high-quality housing for the upper and upper-middle classes, restaurants, theaters, and such amenities as parks, zoos, and golf courses. At the end of the elite spine sector lies an incipient edge city show as "mall" on the model and flanked by high-priced residences. This reflects the emergence of suburban nodes from the North American model in South America's cities.

In the Griffin-Ford model, the remaining concentric zones are home to less well-off residents, who compose the great majority of the urban population. Socioeconomic levels and housing quality decrease markedly with  greater distance from the city center. The zone of maturity in the inner city contains the best housing outside the spine sector, attracting  the middle classes, who invest sufficiently to keep their solidly built but aging dwellings from deteriorating. The adjacent zone is one of much more modest housing. Interspersed with the more modest areas are densely populated unkempt areas, which represent a transition from inner-ring affluence to outer-ring poverty. The outermost zone of peripheral squatter settlements is home to the impoverished and recent migrants who live in shantytowns. Shantytowns are unplanned developments of crude dwellings and shelters made moistly of scrap wood, iron, and pieces of cardboard that develop around cities. Although the ring of peripheral squatter settlements consists mainly of teeming, high-density shantytowns, many residents here are surprisingly optimistic about finding work and improving their living conditions. 

A structural element common among many South American cities is the disamenity sector, the very poorest parts of cities that in extreme cases are not connected to regular city services and are controlled by gangs and drug lords. The disamenity sectors in South American cities contain relatively unchanging slums known as barrios or favelas. The worst of these poverty-stricken areas often include large numbers of people who are so poor that they are forced to live in the streets. There is little in the way of regular law enforcement within such communities, and drug lords often run the show or battle with other drug lords for dominance. Such conditions also prevail in places beyond the ring highway or periférico, which is now a feature of most South American citifies.

Finally, the Griffin-Ford model displays two smaller sectors: an industrial park, reflecting the ongoing concentration of industrial activity in the city, and a gentrification zone, where historic buildings are preserved. Gentrification remains much less common in South American cities than in North America, but it is an emerging phenomenon. 

To what extent is the Griffin-Ford model a realistic portrayal of the South American city? The model reflects the enormous differences between the spaces of privilege and the spaces of abject poverty within the South American  city. The model also describes elements of sector development evident in many large South American cities, but the concentricity suggested by the model seems to be breaking down. Both, the original zones of the Griffin-Ford model and the updates Larry Ford added in a 1996 article. Larry Ford's updated Griffin-Ford model adds a ring highway (periférico) around the outskirts of the city, divides the downtown business district into a CBD and a market, adds a mall near the elite space, and leaves space for suburban industrial parks.

This model includes both the zones created in the original Griffin-Ford model and the new Ford model of the South American city.

Adapted with permission from: L.Ford, "A New and Improved Model of Latin American City Structure," The Geographical Review 86 (1996), p.438

-- END --

This concludes the lesson. Please fill out the assessment next.

What did you learn? - The assessment

List the traits and characteristics of a Shantytown / Periférico.

List as many as you can based on what you gained from the lesson.

How does the Zone of In Situ Accretion (better Shantytown area) differ from the area of shantytowns?

Please describe.

List the amenities and / or traits of the elite section of the city.

List as many as you can based on what you gained from the lesson.

The method used to teach the lesson was effective in learning about urban models.

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Undecided
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

You got a sense of the spatial distribution of neighborhoods in the city.

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Undecided
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

You felt like you could place where the poor and wealthy of a city would live.

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Undecided
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

You have an understanding for what life is like in the areas of Periférico, the Zone of In Situ Accretion, and the Spine/Elite Residential?

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Undecided
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

You understand how the model works when used upon a real city.

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Undecided
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

Have a better understanding of a Latin American city after this lesson.

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Undecided
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

Please add any additional comments, recommendations and general thoughts about this experience.

This is the last question for the assessment.

After returning to Homepage, please click on "Finish course" to complete your lesson.

Thanks again for your participation!