biography on Walter Christaller
Walter Christaller and the Central Places Theory
In this essay, we aim to provide some biographical facts about Walter Christaler as a way to understand the role he played in modern geography. Also, we intend to explain his central places theory in a jargon-free way that can be easily understood.
Walter Christaller Biography. Walter Christaller was born in 1893 in Berneck, Germany. He studied philosophy and political economics. After pursuing a variety of occupations, he returned to his studies and published his most famous dissertation “The Central Places in Southern Germany”. In that dissertation, he explained and developed his theory of the central places. During the World War II, he joined the Nazi party, and helped Himmler on planning, and reconfiguring the economic geography of Germany, and the conquered areas. After the war, Christaller turned to the geography of tourism and used his theory to restructure the Federal Republic of Germany. Christaller died in Jugenheim, Germany in 1969. (NNDB 1)
Central Places Theory. The Central Place theory aims to explain the size, and to space of human settlements. This includes cities and towns as a function of people’s economic activities. Before Christaller, geographers had discovered the function of cities, and towns as a market; traffic, or administrative centers. This results in a hierarchical system of settlements separated by their role (Chen 2). According to the theory, a central place can be defined as a settlement at the center of a region where certain kind of products and services are available to those looking for them.
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In that way, a central place can be regarded as place whose ability to supply services for the region makes it a dominant space compared to the other settlements (Encyclopedia Britannica 1). The theory does not only refer to settlements. It also refers to the way the settlements evolve and grow apart from each other. In order to understand the theory, we shall explain its three main concepts order; range, and threshold. The order of a central place is determined by the size of the region it serves. Places with a high order, serve larger regions and vice versa. Range refers the spacing of settlements. Places with higher range will be far from the customers, and they would have to travel farther to obtain the products. Last, the threshold, that indicates the size a market needs to make a product sale, profitable (Chen 3)
The Role of Central Places Theory in Modern Geography. Christaller’s theory is essential to the study of the environment, and consumer trends. Often, small villages are central places, as they act as a center for people to find and purchase their food. However, when it comes to finding technological or mechanical items, they need to travel to a bigger city (Briney 1) In that case, we consider that there is no such thing as only one central place. Depending on the goods needed to purchase, one city or another might act as a central place. This encourages the villages and cities to diversify to be able to appease the demand. However, many products we see in our supermarkets do not come from the city itself but from another central place that serves the city, and the city serves that village with another kind of goods that village would not be able to produce.
Briney, Amanda. “An Overview of Christaller’s Central Place Theory.” About.com. Web. <http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/centralplace.htm>.
Chen, Y. “Http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1105/1105.0589.pdf.” College of Urban and Environmental Sciences. Web. <http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1105/1105.0589.pdf>.
“Walter Christaller | Biography – German Economic Geographer.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/114965/Walter-Christaller>.
“Walter Christaller.” Walter Christaller. Web. <http://www.nndb.com/people/546/000180006/>.
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