Functional Classification gives an idea about occupation, industrial structure and social amenities. It is generally difficult to define the cities based on the function they perform because all cities have more than one function to perform. However, in geography it is generally in terms of economic functions based on inductive and empirical data.

Griffith Taylor

One of the 1st, based on chronological evolution as he considered urbanization as a temporal process.

  • Infant town – Incipient stage, develop from nuclei found at the cross-section of transportation route or village dominated by primary activity.
  • Juvenile – number of shops grow. Also secondary & tertiary activities start.
  • Adolescent – wholesale market starts.
  • Early mature – manufacturing industries.
  • Mature town – service sector.


They are of two types.

  • Nuclear Towns – earliest phase of development (Infant town, Juvenile and Adolescent).
  • Mature Towns – (Early mature, Mature town)


Based on evolutionary stages.

  • Euopolis – formative stage – rural markets and suburban centers.
  • Polis – block level towns and distance with primary and secondary activities.
  • Metropolis – 5 million, tertiary activities predominate. By this stage population size, consumption level, services and population segregation increases. After this the death of the city starts.
  • Tyrranopolis – massive consumption, lavish lifestyle, highly individualities, physical, psychological, psychiatric stresses.
  • Necropolis –  is called the city of dead.

Sophisticated statistical techniques like principal component analysis used for identification of functions of towns – by Harris & Ullman. They used formula for delineation of functional categories. Identified following principle categories.

  • Manufacturing – Jamshedpur, bhilai, Rourkela
  • Retailing
  • Diversities – Kolkata, Ludhiara, Shilong, Imphal
  • Wholesaling
  • Transportation – Kanpur, Ahemdabad, Indore, Vadodara
  • Mining
  • Education – Oxford, Delhi.
  • Resort

Nelson refined Harris classification. Basis of his classification was average % of employment for a sector & the deviation from the city. Based on this, he derived following classification : Manufacturing, Retail, professional, wholesale, personal services, Public Administration, Transportation & Communication, Finance, Insurance & real estate, mining.

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