Organic Classification of Towns by Griffith Taylor

Functional classifications of towns by C. D. Harris and Howard Nelson are primarily based on quantitative or empirical parameters. However, some classifications are based on theoretical knowledge and historical trends. One such classification of towns is Organic Classification of Towns. Such classifications assume the town to be an organism. Therefore, the town must go through certain stages of life as any living organism. These theories are somewhat Teleological because they assume that once an urban settlement starts, it reaches a certain end.. There are two major organic theories of town development i.e. Griffith Taylor’s classification based on age and Lewis Mumford’s Organic Theory.

Griffith Taylor’s Classification

Thomas Griffith Taylor was an English geographer and worked in Australia, United States of America and Canada. He developed his classification based on the experience of cities in the developed world. His classification is based on the age of the city. There are following six stages in a city’s development as per Taylor.

1. Sub-Infantile

  • It is the beginning of an urban settlement.
  • Therefore, there are a small number of settlements with undefined street patterns.
  • Usually, a group of farmers, merchants or artisans lay the foundation of such towns.

2. Infantile

  • The size of the town grows at this stage due to immigration.
  • However, the land-use is not spatially segregated. This means that the residential and commercial areas/establishments grow along each other.
  • The bigger houses start to come up near the periphery of the town.
  • There is an absence of a modern factory production system but the households manufacture the goods.

3. Juvenile

  • As the population and size of the town grows, a commercial area assumes the central location in the town but the land-use is still mixed. It means residential areas still grow alongside commercial units.
  • Additionally, there is no sign of residential differentiation. Residential differentiation denotes that there are various types of houses in a town such as slums, one room houses, gated colonies, bunglows, mansions etc. In this stage the houses look similar in design or aesthetics.

4. Adolescent

  • In this stage, the residential units start to differentiate. This means that the different economic classes start to emerge in the city.
  • Usually, a rich entrepreneur class controls the resources while the majority of people work in the factories.

5. Early Maturity

  • The degree of residential differentiation increases.
  • The city shows segregation of residential areas between different classes i.e. rich, middle and poor.

6. Mature

  • A clear land-use pattern emerges in the city where the commercial and residential zones are limited to certain areas.
  • Usually, it happens through municipality rules or legislative interference. The municipality allocated different parts of the city to different function
  • The city shows the four types of residential zones representing economic condition of its residents.

Relevance and Conclusion

This theory or classification of towns by Griffith Taylor is a keen academic observation. However, it is based on the development of towns in the western world. This classification, usually, applies to a place or country with no previous culture or economic development. For instance, this theory applies to a region like Western U.S.A. The colonizers went to the wild west of the U.S.A. to explore resourceful areas and settled there. They started building the towns from flat earth. Australia and New Zealand have similar stories of development of cities.

In the case of India, China, Iran etc., there was no vacant land for the colonialists. Therefore, the developed city alongside old cities. Hence, we find twin developments in each city. The new part of the city is more developed, organized and desirable while the old represents the crowd and chaos.

Further, this classification do not show the trend of city’s development after Mature Stage. Therefore, it seems incomplete