This paper tries to extend the conventional central place theory, which isstill the most popular tool for analyzing the spatial hierarchy of urban andmetropolitan commercial activities, by viewing the spatial patterns in amore holistic,, modern perspective.The paper is composed of four parts. first, the conventional central placetheory and Berry's notion of market centers are briefly criticized. We be-lieve that central place theory ignores the effect of behavioural factors onspatial structure by stressing only the trip length to the center, which is asimplistic economic explication. Berry proposes to further develop centralplace theory by Incorporating consumer behavior and demographic charac-teristics of the service area into the system, but so far without carrying itout by empirical undertakings. The idea fails to break loose from the limits of closed systems, such as isolation from the outside world and short com-ings of a bottom-up development conception which disregards the influenceexerted on the sutructure by the diffusion of cultural consumption from thecentral area toward the peripehery. Furthermore, the dynamic interplaybetween the system of central places and the lifestyle and consumptiton be-havior of the service population is undoubtedly among the major forces thatshape and change the structure of central place system, but this complexmechanism has never been delineated in the literature. In the second part ofthe paper we propose a preliminary thehoretical construct which depictsand interprets the forming of the hierarchical spatial structure or con-sumption in urban areas, especially in third-world metropolises- It incor-porates five important conceptual elements in explaining the true meaningof the spatial patterns of tertiary activities in the urban area: clusteredconsumption activities, localized commerical ecology, mode of consumption,symbolic consumption, core/periphery relationship, and cultural diffusion.This construct is the principal theoretical contribution of the paper. In thethird part a summarized report on an empirical study is persented.Thestudy is conducted in three selected commerical areas of diffrent functionsand significance in Taipei, Taiwan, attempting to validate the role of the fiveconcepts in the evolution of the spatil patterns of consumption In this par-ticular third-world metropolitan area. Finally we conclude by recapitulat-ing that the hierarchical structure of commerical areas in a metropolisshould be understood simultanosly from four perspectives: (1) the extent ofthe service area, (2) the socio-economic class of the service population,(3) the role and function of the consumption activities as part of the livli-hood of the consumer, and (4) the relative position of the commerical areain the process of diffusion of cultural consumption.