Social Studies - 2018-19

WG.16 b - Functions of Towns and Cities Change Over Time

The student will apply social science skills to analyze the patterns of urban development by 

b) explaining how the functions of towns and cities have changed over time; 

(moved from WG.11)

Adopted: 2015


Themes- Location, Adaptation, Identity

What is the relationship between site and situation?

How have the functions of towns and cities changed over time?

Do the benefits of urban growth outweigh the problems associated?



Functions of towns and cities 

  • Security, defense 
  • Religious centers 
  • Trade centers (local and long distance) 
  • Government administration 
  • Manufacturing centers 
  • Service centers 
  • Education centers 

Examples of cities whose functions have changed over time 

  • Rio de Janeiro: Move of Brazil’s capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia 
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Early function connected to defense, then became steel-manufacturing center, later shifted to diverse services (financial, light manufacturing) 
  • New York City: Changes in trade patterns—coastal and transatlantic trade, trade from the Great Lakes via the Erie Canal, worldwide trade and finances 
  • Mining towns, “ghost” towns: Resource depletion, changes in the environment


Updated: Jun 13, 2018