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This book analyzes how information circulated before the telegraph. Using newspapers and their contents, postal services, the volume of commodity trade, and travel patterns to analyze information circulation, Allan Pred provides a cogent and complete description of interrelationships among the large cities during the period from 1790 to 1840. His principal concern, however, is with general urban-growth and locational processes. Developments between 1790 and 1840 are studied in order to understand the growth process of all systems of cities, both past and present.
Allan Pred has developed a multiple-loop feedback model to describe the process by which a few cities established their long-term dominance, or high rank, during the early growth of particular urban systems and subsystems. The model includes non-local multiplier effects generated by local urban growth, allows interurban trade and information flows mutually to reinforce one another, and permits “spatially biased” information circulation to influence where business opportunities are exploited and how economic innovations are diffused. Several interurban innovation diffusion processes are examined to confirm the validity of certain aspects of the model.
Examples of both hierarchical and non-hierarchical diffusion processes are given, including the spread of the Bank Panic of 1837, daily newspapers, and steam engines. Much information is presented in the form of clear and illuminating tables, figures, and maps. This study, by historical perspective on social change and deeper insight into the importance of information circulation in urban growth, should be immensely valuable to current regional and locational planning.