Guidline for Writing Sample Geography, History, and Economics of City X Introduction Geography plays a large role in the formation and development of a city. Natural geography determines the initial economic activities of a village, a settlement, or a camp. Over time, initial concentrations of economic activities lead to cities and metropolis due to agglomeration economics. Cities continue to exist, and some even grow, after the initial geographic advantages went obsolete. For example, one of the most important economic activities in the 19th century Detroit is fur trade. Fur trade dwindled with the decline of beaver population, yet Detroit reinvented itself into an automobile manufacturing center. In this exercise, you are required to write a brief economic history of a city of your choice. You need to explain the role geography played in the economic history of the city, and what role it is still playing in shaping the city’s economic performance. Discuss whether and how factors we have discussed in class have affected the evolution of the city’s economy.
These factors may include (and are not restricted to): • Trade cost: proximity to a sea or river port, access to railway and highways, country or state borders, etc. • Type of industries: what industries does the city focus on and why they are there? • Agglomeration economics, which includes localization economics and urbanization economics. • Access to natural resources such as mineral and energy reserves, animal products, crops, and lumber, etc. • Innovations in the city, which • Congestion effect: as a city gets bigger, firms and residents in the city incur higher costs from higher rental price, worse road congestion, longer commuting time, and worse air pollution, etc. • Natural amenities: both to the residents and to the firms. • Location in a system of cities. Notice to pick a metropolitan area, which can be thought as a local economy. For example, the economy of Okemos, a small town to the east of East Lansing, is by definition attached to the economy of Lansing Metropolitan Area, so you should analyze the economy of the Lansing area, not Okemos on its own. Also note that cities are always evolving. Shocks might occur in the course of history which may fundamentally change the economic landscape of a city. This also means that you do not necessarily need to start from the very beginning when the city was first settled. Guiding Questions These questions may help you organize your writing. Although you do not have to answer all of these questions. Based on your reading and understanding of location-based policies, you can also include additional discussions related to the topic. • In the starting period of your history of the city, what economic activities was it involved?