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Service Access in Premodern Cities: An Exploratory Comparison of Spatial Equity
Journal of Urban History (2016)
  • Jerald D. Ek, Western Washington University
  • Benjamin W. Stanley
  • Timothy J. Dennehy
  • Michael E. Smith
  • Barbara L. Stark
  • Abigail M. York
  • George L. Cowgill
  • Novic, Juliana, Arizona State University
Spatial equity studies measuring urban service access have been conducted in variety of modern settings, but this research has not been extended to premodern cities. This article presents an exploratory, transdisciplinary pilot study of service access in six premodern urban environments to better understand the historical origins of inequality. Using archaeological and historical spatial data, neighborhood and household access to three types of service facility is studied across different urban traditions. Findings reveal that the size, shape, and spatial structure of cities may influence service accessibility as much as political influence over facility siting or residential choice. Most cities display a spatially concentric pattern of accessibility, and denser cities tend to display more equitable service access. Elite groups possess consistently better service access than nonelite groups. Although this exploratory study must be expanded to produce firmer results, it indicates the importance of interpreting modern urban inequalities from a long-term perspective, and points to the efficacy of comparative, spatially oriented, urban historical research for generating new insights into urban processes.
  • Spatial equity,
  • Urban services,
  • Urban history,
  • Comparative urbanism,
  • Service access
Publication Date
January, 2016
Publisher Statement
Copyright © 2016 by SAGE Publications
Citation Information
Jerald D. Ek, Benjamin W. Stanley, Timothy J. Dennehy, Michael E. Smith, et al.. "Service Access in Premodern Cities: An Exploratory Comparison of Spatial Equity" Journal of Urban History Vol. 42 Iss. 1 (2016) p. 121 - 144
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