With passing time urban areas have become increasingly complicated. Each urban area has a variety of functions. The manner in which the humans use the land changes throughout the urban area due to the different activities that take place. With time, a number of models have been created based on studies to identify patterns of land use to overcome the complexity of land uses found throughout a city. Land use models are theories which attempt to explain the layout of urban areas. Models are used to simplify the way land is used in urban areas, simplify complex, real world situations and also make them easier to explain and understand.

Geographers have formulated models of land use to show how a ‘typical’ city is laid out. One of the most distinguished of these is the “Burgess” or “concentric zone model”. This model is based on the concept that land values are highest in the centre of a city or town. This is because competition is greater in the central parts of the settlement. This leads to high-density buildings, high-rise being found near the Central Business District (CBD), with sparse, low-density developments on the edge of the town or city. Another urban model is the “Hoyt model”. It adds sectors of similar land uses concentrated in parts of the city though it is also based on the circles on the Burgess model. It is noticeable how some zones, e.g. the factories/industry zone, radiate out from the CBD. This seems to probably follow the line of a main road or a railway.


Different Land Use Models

The Hoyt (Sector) Model

The model that we will be discussing in this article is the Hoyt (sector) model. The sector model also known as the Hoyt model was brought forward by economist Homer Hoyt (1895-1984) in 1939. In his long accomplished life, he put forward path-breaking research on land economics, refined local area economic analysis, developed an influential approach to the analysis of neighbourhoods and housing markets and was a major figure in the development of suburban shopping centres in the decades after World War II. His sector model of land use remains one of his best known contributions to urban scholarship. It is a model of urban land use and revised the concentric zone model of city development. Some important points of the Hoyt sector model are enlisted below:

  • A city develops in a series of sectors, not rings.
  • Different areas attract different activities by environmental factors or by chance.
  • As the city grows, activities within it grow outward in a wedge shape from the Central Business District (CBD).
  • Hoyt modified the concentric zone model to account for major transportation routes.
  • Most major cities evolved around the nexus of several important transport facilities such as sea ports, railroads, and trolly lines that radiated from the city’s centre.
  • It is a monocentric representation of urban areas.
  • As growth occurs, similar activities stay in the same area and extend outwards.
  • Hoyt realized that access to resources and particularly transportation caused a disruption of the Burgess model. For example, major highway to a nearby city or a rail line may result in business development to preferentially develop parallel to the rail line or major highway. Hence one side of a city may be industrial completely while another sector may be completely rural.

Homer Hoyt, a land economist, a real estate appraiser and Founder of the Sector Model.

Image Source: Wikipedia

Background and Explanation

Hoyt, while accepting the existence of a central business district, suggested that various socio-economic groups bolster outward from the city centre along railroads, highways, and other transportation arteries. Take Chicago as a model, where an upper class residential sector evolved outward along the desirable Lake Michigan shoreline to the central business district’s north, while industry extended southward in sectors that followed railroad lines.

Hoyt, while formulating this model, observed that it was common for low-income households to be near railroad lines, and commercial foundations to be along business areas. Noticing that the various transportation routes into an urban area, including sea ports, tram lines and railroads represented greater access, Hoyt propounded that cities tended to develop in wedge-like patterns or “sectors” radiating from the central business district and centred on major transportation routes. Easier access meant higher land values, thus, many commercial functions would be close to the CBD but manufacturing functions would emerge in a wedge surrounding transportation routes. Residential functions would grow in patterns of wedge shape with a sector of low earning housing bordering manufacturing/industrial sectors (noise, pollution and traffic makes these areas the least desirable) while sectors of middle- and high-income households were located farthest away from these functions. Hoyt’s model pursuits to broadly state a principle of urban organization.


Policy Analysis :

  • The Central Business District (CBD) is the area of the city where retail and office activities are clustered, and is the centre of the city, economically and geographically.


  • The low income residential tend to be close to railroad lines, and commercial foundations along the business areas. These are mainly occupied by the poorer people who usually work in the factories, so they have to live close to the industry to save transportation costs. The places, due to traffic, noise, and smells and pollution emitted from the industries, tend to be less desirable for living.


  • The middle income residential are further away from manufacturing and industrial sectors making it more desirable to live in than low income residential. It joins the CBD for working middle income people for easy access to work. These housings have trees and are much more spacious.


  • The high income residential are the most expensive housing and have the greatest distance from industrial sectors, which make this area to be having a cleaner environment with less traffic jams, cleaner air and sounds. There is something called the spine, from the CBD to the outer edge of the city, which is where the most desirable housing is found.


  • The industry sectors are predominantly set up along transportation lines such as water canals and rail lines. It provides an income for the low income people of the society and the needs for the people.


  • This model was created without considering cars. Many people at that time did not have access to cars because of them being less popular and expensive, and creating risks of safety. People at that time used public transportation, such as trains and street cars. At that time, cities were relatively crowded, and the process of urbanization had not happened.


Hoyt suggested that high rent sector would expand according to four factors:

  1. It moves from its point of origin near the Central Business District(CBD), along established routes of travel, in direction of another nucleus of high-rent buildings.
  2. It will progress along waterfronts or toward high ground, when these areas are not implemented for industry.
  3. It will move along the route of fastest transportation.
  4. It will move toward open space.

Advantages of the Sector Model:

  • It looks at the effect of transport and communication links.
  • Numerous cities do seem to have followed this model.If turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise, the Hoyt model fits the city of Newcastle upon Tyne reasonably accurately.
  • Pie shaped wedges made by Hoyt compensated for the drawbacks of the Ring model.
  • Though not perfect it takes into account the lines of growth.
  • It allows for an outward progression of growth.


  • There is no reference to out of town development.
  • There is no reference to the physical environment.
  • The theory is based on nineteenth century transport and does not make allowances for private cars which allow commuting from outside city boundaries where land is much cheaper. This occurred in Calgary in the 1930s when many near-slums were put up in the outskirts of the city but close to the termini of the street car lines. These are now applied into the boundary of the city but are pockets of low cost housing in medium cost areas.
  • The growth of a sector can be stopped with land use radiating out of the inner city.
  • It does not consider the new concepts of edge cities and boom burbs, which came up in the 1980s, after the creation of the model. Since its creation, the traditional CBD has diminished in importance as numerous office and retail buildings have moved into the suburbs.
  • Like all models of urban form its validity is limited.

Few existing examples of application of the sector model:


Chicago, the third most populous city in the United States and the most populous city in the American Midwest with approximately 2.7 million residents, placed in the U.S. state of Illinois. Its metropolitan area (also called “Chicagoland”), which extends into Wisconsin and Indiana, is the third-largest in the United States, after those of New York City and Los Angeles, with an estimated 9.5 million people. The sector model of a city was based on Chicago; the higher income residential was built along the desirable Lake Michigan and north of the CBD.

Chicago closely implementing the Sector Model.

Transportation Role in Chicago


Shivajinagar is an area in the heart of Pune city. This is the most important area of the city as the Pune Municipal Corporation, District court (Pune), Agricultural College (Pune), Shivaji preparatory military school, College of Engineering (Pune), etc. are situated in this area. The bus stand at Shivajinagar interlinks the city to places in the state of Maharashtra. Shivajinagar Railway Station is an important station for the suburban railway traffic of Pune This area also has roads like the Ambedkar road (University road) which links Pune University to Pune Railway Station and Aundh via Shivajinagar and Mumbai Pune old road which links Dehu Road to area of Pune Railway Station via Shivajinagar, Pimpri, Khadki, Nigdi and Chinchwad. Analysing the above points in the picture below, we can easily relate it with the sector mod


In a nutshell the Sector model is quite advantageous over the Burgess model in some aspects having brought in new unprecedented concepts of sectors. We have seen the various plus and minuses of the Hoyt model and how appreciably it has fit in the real city scenarios like Chicago and many other urban cities. But on a broader perspective we have to keep in mind that the land models we are familiar with were designed based on studies in the 1920s when the transportation and technologies were not much advanced. So although the benefits and simplicity that comes with the sector model we cannot relate them with the present scenarios where the use of cars and vehicles have changed and influenced the living styles. So as in the Burgess and Hoyt model the more crowded and busy places were the ones with the easiest access and low costs, the present 21st century scenario is different where people even living in the outskirts of the city living at much cheaper costs can access the inner busy part of the city. The Sector model surely has had an extensive application in the 20th century with many famous cities having followed or resembled the model but we cannot keep relating these models with present modernised cities. With passing time, changes occur in every field and we have to adapt with them and same is the case with the land use models. We have to look forward towards new land use patterns and newer factors affecting them.


This article has been prepared with information, pictures and case studies from various internet sites mentioned below –


Prepared by – Pranil Pradhan Purpose – Assignment 1 for Course GEO291 Course Teacher – Dr. Mohan Kumar Bera Reg. No – 11401321 Institute – Lovely Professional University, Punjab, India

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