Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Every urban settlement, whether large or small, is the center of a region. The region is the area which surrounds the settlement and is dependent on it for a number of necessary goods and services. The settlement where the goods and services are distributed is called a central place.

Due to the dynamic nature of the functions carried on within central places, the role of each individual central place is constantly changing. By examining the changes that have taken place and are presently taking place in a single central place, much can be learned about other central places with a similar situation.

Lenoir City, Tennessee, is located in the Great Valley of East Tennessee and in proximity to one of the major metropolitan areas of the region. A case study of such a city may reveal insights into certain contemporary settlement and hierarchical patterns. The answers to questions concerning the future role of small towns located in the wake of a sprawling metropolis may also be found.

Two methods were used to determine the central place function of Lenoir City. These were an assessment of the goods and services available within the city and the measurement of the area dependent on the city for these goods and services. This Information was collected through the use of field work and the distribution of a questionnaire.

Lenoir City was found to be the primary trade and service center for a tributary area of approximately 140 square miles. The city’s major function is the distribution of goods and services of a convenience nature and the distribution of comparison goods and services to a lower percentage of the residents.

The economy of the city is closely tied to that of Knoxville and Oak Ridge. Lenoir City and its tributary area function as a bedroom community for many workers who commute daily to jobs in these cities. If the suburbanization of Knoxville continues, Lenoir City will eventually become a part of the Knoxville urbanized area. In becoming so, it may lose its identity, but its function as a trade center will be increased greatly.

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