Central Place Theory

Central place theory is concerned with the size, number, functional characteristics, and spacing of settlements, which are nodal points for the distribution of goods and services to surrounding market areas. An interest in some aspects of the theory can be traced back to the eighteenth and nineteenth-century, when German scholars attempted to identify the relations between settlements and their complementary regions. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, American sociologists proposed models dealing with the theoretical arrangement of central places. The first explicit statement of central place theory was made by German geographer Water Christaller and refined by German economist August Lo?sch. Although there are important differences between the models of Christaller and Lo?sch, they share a number of commonalities in terms of reasoning and underlying assumptions. They both concluded that the most efficient spatial arrangement of central places takes the form of a triangular lattice so that each central place has a hexagonal market area. In the post–World War II period, the classical models have been modified, extended, and tested empirically by researchers from various disciplines including geography, economics, regional sciences, and urban/regional planning. Together, the models of Christaller and Losch as well as later modifications and extensions of those models form a subdivision of location theory that is called central place theory.

Classical Central Place Theory

Impacts on Urban Geography