Tag Archives: sprawl

(1281) Edge City

As part of the great collective cultural effort to sum it all up in the prelude to the Millennium we at this blog certainly remember Joel Garreau’s book Edge City: Life On the New Frontier with an affectionate sense of its importance.  It certainly remains recommended reading for anyone trying to understand North American community building.  It’s a layered pleasure then to come across a long feature on Citylab that checks in with Garreau on where cities, edge and otherwise, are a quarter century on from his popular opus.
Return to Edge City. It was one of the most talked-about urbanist books, and ideas, a generation ago. What ever happened to Joel Garreau’s concept of the “edge city”?
image: J. Sibiga Photography via Flickr/CC

(1272) The New Urban Crisis [Book review]

The New Urban Crisis.  How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class – and What We Can Do About It
Richard Florida
2017: Basic Books, NY
310 pages
Urban crisis is also suburban crisis.  What is bad for one is bad for the other, if in different ways.  For Florida’s take on all this we refer you to chapter eight of his most recent book.  This chapter functions as a data-supported handbook to the sprawl zones.  In an era of what he calls winner-take-all urbanism staged by and for the so-called creative class, well, the further out you go it seems the deeper the doo-doo.  Please read.
The new suburban crisis

(1207) Hurricane Harvey

Climate change meets sprawl at the synthetic waterline along the Gulf of Mexico.  Perilous developments these days for the Houston Ship Channel and places like Rockport, Texas, seen in the image above from a Google Maps screen shot. Turning away from the spectacle of Hurricane Harvey’s wet trek into Texas is just about impossible.
A changing world asks questions about the way we build communities and operate their economies.  America’s fourth largest city is also a source of the fossil fuels that helped make sprawl and climate change possible.  Business as usual this time next year?
Boom town, flood town. Climate change will bring more frequent and fierce rainstorms to cities like Houston. But unchecked development remains a priority in the famously un-zoned city, creating short-term economic gains for some while increasing flood risks for everyone
Hurricane Harvey poised to impact blacks in Texas, but no one is talking about it
Hell and high water
propublica.org – this is a map/graphics rich feature from March 2016
See also:
(1067) Climate change pushes American public housing tenants

(979) Welcome to your IBC

SurreyBCMississauga is tough for us to figure out at times, even though the suburban-poverty.com office complex has been located in this sprawlalicious place for some five full years now.  Surrey, BC?  Never been.  Both places are mentioned right away in this sensible article asking that we consider framing where most of us find ourselves living a little differently.

Forget downtowns and suburbs: the “in-between cities” are where it’s at
cbc.ca The 180 with Jim Brown

Reconnecting the in-between city
newgeography.com (2010)

image: Surrey, BC by Waferboard via Flickr/CC

(978) Sprawl & poverty: by design

parking lot
Two strong features from the US that show us car-dependent sprawl is configured quite deeply against those with low incomes.
No Driver’s License, No Job? Conservative policymakers urge those in need to get work. But for those without driver’s licenses—who are by and large people of color—that’s not such an easy task
Poor people pay for parking even when they can’t afford a car

Image: alden Jewell via Flickr/CC

(711) Organized labour & the sprawl


Playing in the sandA fresh angle on the effect of built form on workers in this essay from Shelterforce.

Sprawl vs. unions. The three very different stories of the building trades in Atlanta, Denver, and Portland, Ore., show just how much urban development patterns affect workers

Sprawl is the most inconspicuous adversary of labor unions

image: Andrei Dragusanu/Flickr

(512) Wrecked in the sprawl [Study]

Fun with carsSitting thinking about physical health and the general quality of life in the sprawl and what do we come across on Fast Company’s site but this article with its catchy title.  The links in it take you through to a University of Utah study associating denser metropolitan areas with higher rates of personal well-being and success.

Urban sprawl: get fat, stay poor, and die in car crashes. A new report on metro density says it straight: quality of life improves in compact cities.

(505) Demoted by sprawl [Report]

Big SprawlSocial mobility for poor children is held back by suburban sprawl according to a new report.  If we want to see people of modest means and their kids go somewhere in life we better make sure they enjoy access to good, cheap public transit.  This item from Al-Jazeera links you through to the report which comes from Smart Growth America and the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Urban Center:

Study: suburban sprawl hurts social mobility

image: USDA via Wikimedia Commons

(490) Atlanta’s food deserts

Breakfast cerealHit by ice storms, high winds and heavy snow this winter Atlanta was seen to nearly grind to a halt at times.  The exceptional weather highlighted some worrisome things about life in that massively sprawled southern city: indicators of human risk built right into the general living arrangements there.  Low density, car-centric living in Atlanta doesn’t function particularly well for the poor on a sunny day.  Add in northern winter conditions and things get ugly.  Weak choices that overemphasize fast food and long treks for food in extreme weather are commonplace for low income Atlantans year round.  As the bad weather recedes the underlying vulnerability doesn’t and extremes of heat are also difficult.  A huge component of vulnerability year round is the area’s food deserts which are the subject of the Guardian piece linked below (which appears also in Atlanta Magazine).

Atlanta’s food deserts leave its poorest citizens stranded and struggling. It seems unthinkable but in a major US city, thousands cannot get to places where fresh, affordable food is available Guardian

The day we lost Atlanta. How 2 lousy inches of snow paralyzed a metro area of 6 million
Politico provided an excellent and widely read feature on the effect of January’s Icepocalypse on Atlanta’s vast sprawl

See also: (421) Let it snow

image: breakfast cereal by Zanastardust via Wikimedia Commons

(403) Cookies-per-acre and other data reveal suburbs not really working for Santa any more

Santa needs a break!Sounds like Santa needs a break.  In fact, if Santa can’t hack it, who can?  “This is kickin’ the shit outta me,” Santa told the New York Times last year.  “Deliverin’ to all these spread out communities is wrecking the reindeer, the turnover on ’em is unbelievable nowadays,” he told an interviewer from the Times while in a physiotherapist’s office.

This year looks to be a repeat in a now familiar trend toward difficult, long ranging missions to spread Christmas joy to every girl and boy across the landscape of a massively altered continent.

“You’d think with an aging population I’d have gotten a break over the last few years,” Santa told suburban-poverty.com in an email this week.  “But nope, now I know why the post office is throwing in the friggin’ towel.  All that distance I gotta cover to drop a handful of toys.  Complete bullshit.  I could do all of Montreal back in the forties in about the same time it takes me to maybe do half of Brampton now.  And Alberta, forget it.”

Santa found early post-war suburbs relatively easy to accommodate.  “The extra space was actually handy,” he said of trips to south Etobicoke in the early 1950s.  “But sweet sufferin’ crap, the sleigh took fifteen rounds from an AK-47 in Rexdale last year.  I ain’t no spring chicken.”

“Is a reindeer gonna have to die?” asked an animal rights activist speaking to suburban-poverty.com anonymously about the logistics of the holiday season.  “It’s not just the violence, lack of social services and slow 911 response times out there.  Traffic is murder on top of everything else, both day and night.”  The source went on to describe exhausted reindeer forced to work triple shifts without breaks covering massive distances and barely able to cope.  “It’s just a matter of time,” claimed the source.

“Something better change,” said Santa.  “Cause I can’t hack this shit anymore.  All these huge roads, spread out subdivisions and everything built willy nilly all over hell’s half acre.  What were people thinking?  There used to be beautiful fields out there, farmland with moonlight sparkling magically over it, the glow of Rudolph’s nose guiding me over dark pine woods and shimmering rivers.  Now there’s nothing but worn out strip malls and garbage everywhere.  What the hell were people thinking?”

A holiday message from Santa: no more suburbs!