GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (5): 1045-1062.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020170862

• Urban Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The spatial pattern of urban areas and urban system of Yangtze River Delta in the past 600 years

QIN Lijun1,2(), JIN Xiaobin1,2,3(), JIANG Yuchao1, XUE Qiaofeng1, CHENG Yinong4, LONG Ying5, YANG Xuhong1,3, ZHOU Yinkang1,2,3   

  1. 1. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Coastal Zone Exploitation and Protection, Ministry of Natural Resources, Nanjing 210023, China
    3. Natural Resource Research Centre of Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    4. School of History and Archives, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China
    5. School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • Received:2017-08-25 Revised:2018-12-23 Online:2019-05-13 Published:2019-05-13


Based on the data extracted from historical documents, ancient maps and remote sensing, quoting the reconstruction method of ancient city from history study, this study reconstructed urban areas of 113 cities and towns from the Ming Dynasty in the Yangtze River Delta. Aiming to analyze the expansion progress of urban areas and the spatial pattern of urban system of this region since the Ming Dynasty, we took the years of 1461, 1820, 1930, 1970, 1980, 2000 and 2010 as time sections, and adopted the urban expansion rate, urban expansion efficiency, urban primacy index and rank-size rule. The results are as follows: (1) The urban area of 113 cities increased markedly in the past 600 years. The average increment is 31.27 times as 1461’s, from 205.98 km2 to 6442.19 km2, and Shanghai region has the greatest increment, 63.41 times as 1461’s. The urban expansion of the past 600 years can be divided into four processes: the embryonic stage (Ming and Qing dynasties), the starting stage (from the Republic of China to the early Reform and Opening-up), the growing stage (from the Reform and Opening-up to 2000) and the rapid development stage (21st century). The urban expansion rate was accelerating while the efficiency of urban expansion needs to be improved. (2) As for spatial pattern of the city size distribution, cities of Suzhou and Nanjing were the largest ones in the region in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and Shanghai substituted Suzhou and Nanjing and became the largest city in the Yangtze River Delta since the Republic of China. Large and medium scale cities were mainly concentrated in the Yangtze River Basin and the Taihu Lake Basin, while the small-scale cities were mainly in Anhui Province. The city size distribution in urban system appeared to be the first-place pattern. The urban primacy index was high and the urban primacy index was lower in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The large-scale cities had more advantages and they developed faster, resulting in a wider gap between different scale cities.

Key words: urban system, spatial pattern, land use, Yangtze River Delta, the past 600 years