San José State University
Department of Economics
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley

Walter Christaller's Theory of Central Places

Walter Christaller in examining the location and relationships among cities in southern Germany believed that there were systematic patterns. The ideal pattern would in practise be distorted by topography but its rational was very simple. An abbreviated version of Christaller's reasoning is as follows. A regional city and its manufacturing factories would supply a wreath of satellite cites that stocked the manufacturing goods in warehouses for distribution locally and to retail distributors in its hexagonal wreath of towns, as shown below.

In the diagram above the blue dot represents the regional city, the six red dots represent the satellite cities of the regional city and the 216 magenta dots represent the towns of the retail distributors. Retail distribution would also take place within the regional city and the satellite cities. Likewise the regional city would also have wholesalers which supply its retail distributors.

The above diagram distorted the spatial pattern of Christaller's central place theory in order to make the pattern easier to discern. A more accurate depiction of the hierarchical pattern of Christaller is the following.

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