Polycentric phoenix

Timothy F. Leslie, Breandan O'Huallachain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Sun Belt cities have a reputation for sprawling disarray. Although Phoenix is often depicted as the ultimate large fast-growing, low-density Sun Belt metropolis, we found considerable order in the location of business establishments. We tested spatial pattern to show that establishments in a variety of sectors are significantly clustered and found that while clustering declines outside the central business district (CBD) and subcenters, all sectors remain significantly clustered in the suburbs, A new method that we developed to assess spatial relationships of establishments across sectors revealed that spatial intersectoral associations are evident between some intermediate-sector establishments and within final demand. These intersectoral associations mostly carry over to portions of the urbanized area beyond the CBD and subcenters. A cartographic analysis details sectoral locational patterns across the metropolitan area and the relationships between the function of subcenters and the transportation network. We compare the economic structure of the CBD and five subcenters. Phoenix has a distinctively specialized CBD. Some subcenters are functionally diversified, while others are specialized. The rank-size rule is a good approximation of the size order of centers. We conclude that continued forces of accessibility, externality, and regulation shape the spatial structure of Phoenix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-192
Number of pages26
JournalEconomic Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Point patterns
  • Polycentric
  • Spatial associations
  • Urban structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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