The Sector Model: A Comprehensive Explanation with Examples

Table of contents
  1. Understanding the Sector Model
  2. Real-Life Examples of the Sector Model
  3. Applying the Sector Model in Urban Planning
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Conclusion

In the field of urban geography, the sector model is a crucial concept that helps us understand the layout of cities and the distribution of various urban land uses. Developed by Homer Hoyt in 1939, the sector model is a key framework for analyzing urban growth and development. In this article, we will delve into the sector model, explore its key components, and provide real-world examples to illustrate its application. By the end of this comprehensive guide, you will have a thorough understanding of the sector model and its significance in urban planning and geography.

Understanding the Sector Model

The sector model, also known as the Hoyt model, is a theory of urban structure that posits certain sectors of a city are more attractive for various activities, leading to the development of sectors or wedges of land use. This model is based on the assumption that cities grow outward from a central business district (CBD) in a series of wedges or sectors, with different land uses dominating each sector. The sector model suggests that the development of urban land uses follows a pattern of concentric circles and sectors, influenced by transportation routes, industrial locations, and socio-economic factors.

According to the sector model, the CBD serves as the focal point for transportation, commerce, and culture. From the CBD, various sectors or wedges extend outward, each dominated by specific land uses such as residential, industrial, commercial, and transportation. The model also emphasizes the role of transportation routes, such as highways, railways, and rivers, in shaping the distribution of different land uses within the city.

Key Features of the Sector Model

Here are the key features of the sector model:

  • Radial Pattern: The city develops in a series of wedges or sectors, radiating outward from the CBD.
  • Transportation Influence: Transportation routes influence the location and distribution of various land uses.
  • Concentric Circles: The city is organized into concentric circles, with each circle or sector dominated by specific land uses.
  • Distinct Sectors: Different sectors or wedges of the city are characterized by specific land uses, such as residential, industrial, commercial, and transportation.

Real-Life Examples of the Sector Model

To better understand the sector model, let's explore some real-life examples that demonstrate its application in analyzing and planning urban areas.

New York City

New York City exhibits a clear illustration of the sector model in its urban structure. The CBD, located in Manhattan, serves as a hub for business, finance, and culture. From the CBD, the residential sector extends northward, with affluent residential areas such as the Upper East Side and Upper West Side forming distinct sectors. Additionally, the industrial sector developed along the waterfront areas, taking advantage of the city's ports and transportation access. As the city expanded, the commercial sector spread along major transportation routes, such as Broadway, creating a clear depiction of the sector model in action.


Chicago also exemplifies the sector model, with its distinct pattern of urban development radiating from the CBD. The downtown area serves as the central business and commercial district, with the Loop district at its core. Residential sectors extend outward from the CBD, with affluent neighborhoods located in specific sectors, while industrial areas are concentrated along transportation corridors such as railway lines and major highways. The transportation sector, characterized by the city's extensive network of railroads and highways, further reinforces the application of the sector model in analyzing Chicago's urban structure.

Applying the Sector Model in Urban Planning

The sector model provides urban planners and geographers with a valuable framework for understanding and predicting the spatial organization of cities. By analyzing existing urban layouts and applying the principles of the sector model, urban planners can make informed decisions regarding zoning, land use regulations, and transportation infrastructure planning. Understanding the factors that influence the development of different sectors within a city allows for more efficient and sustainable urban planning.

Benefits of Using the Sector Model in Urban Planning

Utilizing the sector model in urban planning offers several benefits:

  • Improved Zoning Decisions: The sector model helps identify areas suitable for specific land uses, leading to more effective zoning decisions.
  • Efficient Transportation Planning: Understanding the influence of transportation routes enables better planning for roads, public transit, and logistics hubs.
  • Optimized Infrastructure Development: By considering the spatial distribution of land uses, infrastructure development can be tailored to specific sectors, improving overall urban functionality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Limitations of the Sector Model?

While the sector model provides valuable insights into urban land use patterns, it has been criticized for its oversimplification of city structure. The model does not account for the heterogeneity of cities and the influence of contemporary factors such as gentrification and urban revitalization.

How does the Sector Model Differ from the Concentric Zone Model?

The sector model differs from the concentric zone model, proposed by Ernest Burgess, in that it emphasizes the development of sectors or wedges rather than distinct rings of land use. While the concentric zone model focuses on the inward expansion of urban land uses from the CBD, the sector model highlights the outward growth in specific sectors influenced by transportation routes.

Can the Sector Model be Applied to Developing Cities?

Yes, the sector model’s principles can be applied to developing cities to understand the spatial dynamics of urban growth. By considering the influence of transportation networks and economic activities, the sector model can provide valuable insights for guiding the development of emerging urban areas.


In conclusion, the sector model is a foundational concept in urban geography and planning, offering a systematic framework for analyzing the spatial organization of cities. By recognizing the influence of transportation, industry, and socio-economic factors, the sector model provides invaluable insights into the development of distinct urban sectors and land uses. Through real-life examples and applications in urban planning, we have seen the enduring relevance of the sector model in understanding and shaping the evolution of urban spaces.

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