In order to survey the changes in the settlement pattern, this essay compares the results of empirical hierarchy research carried out for the years 1910, 1965, 1995, 2000, with those of the analysis that was made for specifying the quantitative characteristics of urban functions. Considering the results, we can state that 20th century urbanization did not result in a spectacular increase in the number of settlements with urban functions, and that the structure of the urban hierarchy appeared to be stable for the last century - even if the composition of certain hierarchy levels was altered. We called particular attention to the cities falling back in their hierarchy position (e.g. Sátoraljaújhely, Balassagyarmat, Jászberény, Makó, Mohács etc.) Industrialization, agglomeration and tourism were the three major incentives that caused rise within the urban hierarchy in the 20th century.