19 thoughts on “Blog Exercise Eight….

  1. Reblogged this on carlylb and commented:
    After World War II the United States government made a massive investment in infrastructure through providing cheap government mortgages to increase the amount of home owners. The government encouraged homeownership in efforts to prevent communism and socialist ideologies in America. The The government encouraged homeownership not only through subsidized infrastructure, but also through spreading and promoting the idea of the American Dream. The American Dream not only included a dream for a single family home at a cheap price, but also a dream to have everything that goes in it. Since the affordability of homes went up, more people had disposable income to spend on stuff to fill their homes. The increase in spending led to an economic boom with an explosion of retail, entertainment, other various customer services. The American Dream instigated the need to move away from the city to have a private property and private green space, which is not common in the city. In order to move out of the city America prioritized the need for cars and highways, seeing cars as an American’s way to freedom, while public transport becomes nonviable economically. However, freedom for every family of every blue-collar worker through car access came at a price. The convenience of the car led to roads designed wide enough for cars travelling 50 miles an hour with parallel parking. Subdivisions were designed to drive home and drive-out of, but not for social interaction. Historically sidewalks were not requires which meant there was no place safe to walk. Without walking, obesity rates shot up. The car-friendly design of subdivisions proved dangerous for children living and playing next to the streets and led to kids being killed by cars. And with the invention of 24 hour news filled with child abductions, these things caused a culture of fear to break out. Isolation was their solution through a combination privacy fencing, solely scheduled interaction of kids, prohibition of children bicycling, gated communities and cul-de-sacs. All that privacy and isolation only caused the source of the problems to go from external forces to forces from inside the home. Isolated kids became dangerous themselves through prescription drug use and drug dealing, stealing, and vandalism. Without social capital in the community people do not feel responsible to stop the crime that goes on outside their doors, and if it starts to bother them they just leave. But the damage was not bound to the suburbs. The desire and ability to obtain the American Dream resulted in what is known as the Urban Flight. Those who could leave the city and those who could not paid dearly for their inability. People with money moved out of the cities and their money left with them leading to an industrial decline inside the city. The city became an urban donut, unable to revitalize itself. Meanwhile, tax payers’ money goes to paying for road, electricity, and sewer/water main construction to increase people’s ability to sprawl since the cost per person sky rockets. Tax rates also go up because property costs are lower. The subsidized infrastructure desired by the people living in low density environments was being paid for by people living in denser environments. The people living in denser environments cannot afford to pay the extreme taxes for building the roads let alone the maintenance of them. The unforeseen issue with the expansion of highways is that the more highways built, the more traffic congestion. Transportation costs also increase due to the longer commute time. The commute time has an inverse effect on the work productivity and family time. Increased commuting time is also an environmental hazard as it massive amount of pollution.

  2. Reblogged this on Neverending Wanderlust and commented:
    After World War II, the American urban landscape experienced major changes. Thanks to an economic boom, a baby boom, and government anti-socialist policies, people started moving en masse to newly constructed single-family homes in the suburbs. This migration into the suburbs was facilitated by a massive investment in infrastructure occurring around the same time, which focused mostly on suburban areas. While the idea of owning a house in the suburbs became an integral part of the American Dream, it also caused changes in the traditional lifestyle, and caused many problems that are unique to suburban life.

    Historically, families in the United States were quite stable. People usually lived with their parents until they were married and had children, at which point they would move into their own home, where they would stay. Once the migration to the suburbs began, however, this relative residential stability disintegrated. Since people began to see houses primarily as investments, rather than residences, they started moving to more expensive houses as soon as they could. Additionally, families now often move to a different house when a major life event occurs: a couple moves into the perfect starter home (like the middle right image), then moves when they have children, then moves again when the children are teenagers, then moves again when the children go off to college, etc. Furthermore, young people now tend to live separately from their parents as a sign of independence. When combined, these changes destroy the sense of community in neighborhoods, essentially making them anonymous. This new American lifestyle requires massive consumption, which constantly fuels the economy (until it all falls apart and doesn’t fuel the economy anymore, like in 2007-2008).

    Obviously, the suburbanization of the United States has caused some major problems. Socially, the suburbs have isolated people, especially due to neighborhood street layouts. Fences between houses prevent children from walking to friends’ houses, and make driving necessary. Thanks to cul-de-sacs like the ones in the middle left image, children who live in houses that back up to each other might need to be driven multiple miles to visit each other. House designs within a neighborhood are usually very homogeneous, like in the top left and top right images, and are meant to isolate the family within from everyone else in the neighborhood, even if they have the appearance of fostering a neighborhood community. For example, some houses have front porches that are too small to actually use. In the suburban world of isolation that is ruled by the car, many issues arise in teenagers who aren’t old enough to drive. Boredom leads to crime, drug use, vandalism, etc.

    Suburbs also cause some economic problems. Building infrastructure in the suburbs is very expensive because the density is so low. Water mains, power lines, and roads need to be brought to a much larger area than would be necessary for the same population in an urban setting. Transport costs also skyrocket because suburbanites must commute to the city to work on interstate highways, like the ones in the bottom image. The cost of commuting is high not just because of the cost of gas, but also because of lost time. Many commuters, often stuck in traffic, spend an hour or more in each direction of their commute. This commute also causes environmental problems, since most suburban commuters must drive to work.

  3. Reblogged this on crainer2014 Urban Geography and commented:
    Yet again, the reiteration of the “American Dream” comes to the forefront through this collage of images in all its eviscerating, soul crushing suburban glory, which the American public blindly pursued with a passion in our post-war sprawl. The general idea that developed during suburban growth was the creation of an investiture class of home owners, who in theory had a greater feeling of ownership in the system as a whole. The merits of this system can be debated but the trend that was created became the driver for evolving family structures, new housing norms, and the greater expansion of the suburban phenomenon. The outcome of this emerging ethos was the modern suburbs that surround us today. The modern embodiment of the suburbs may take on a different façade from its predecessors, adjusting to evolving housing designs and fads which are essential to the idea of capitalizing investments in housing, but the suburbs still represent the dream of “American exceptionalism” which recent history has shown to be a figment or our collective American imagination.
    The majority of these images instill a feeling of anonymity, or a “cookie cutter” representation that represents a large majority of modern suburbs with the accompanying economic segregation that comes with developers creating houses with income bands. These income bands limit the diversity that could exist within larger urban areas which many families left during the post-war period to create their enclaves of American opportunity epitomized by the “white flight” that occurred as a result of expanding sprawl and urban decline. These suburbs, in some ways, attempt to preserve the society that developed at the height of American geopolitical and economic power, for it was government policy that created this “beast”, facilitating cheap mortgages and promoting the idea of home ownership as counteracting Communism. Though the world has fundamentally changed since the birth of the baby boomers, the inherent desire to grasp the “American Dream” is alive and well as represented by the two car garage “cookie cutter” suburban homes lining the cul de sacs in the images. The top central image in particular seems dizzying as the differentiation of each particular lot becomes obscured from a distance making one question the appeal of the whole design to the home owner beyond an investment, which might explain the lack of aesthetics and the soul crushing, conforming nature of it all. The bottom image seems to deliver the coup de grace of the whole suburban phenomenon, the great mother of convenience and progenitor of the suburbs, the Interstate System. For it was the Interstate System that allowed the exodus of the middle class to the developing suburbs en masse taking with them the “American Dream” and all its deceptive self gratification, something the suburbs seems to propagate when left to its devices. As American as the suburbs have become, there is still room to evaluate alternatives for a changing society whose demands might differ from the last century, and whose world has become globalized, taking the “American Dream” to the next level world-wide. The suburbs will remain in the lexicon of American iconography for the foreseeable future but its lauds could be easier to accept if someone as iconic as say, Bruce Springsteen, could have rocked about being “born in the suburbs of the USA.”

    • Your inserting of the word suburbs in the Bruce Springsteen song title and the comment that accompanies it reminds me of “Little Pink Houses”, by John Mellencamp. It is a rock song that seems to praise the American suburbs until you listen to the lyrics very closely and realize that he is talking about the negative impacts suburbanization has had on the American lifestyle.

  4. Following World War II development on the urban fringe exploded. This growth was the result of a series of social, economic, and political factors. The baby boom generation created a massive population increase that, coupled with government subsidies which promoted the development of a highway system that literally went around urban cores, migrated from cities. Additionally, and in largely resulting from the national highway system, new land on the outskirts of cities became available for cheap commercial development. Later in the 20th century, industrial production in the United States decreased sharply as cheaper labor sources and quick, reliable international shipping routes made production of products and goods more profitable when done abroad. This helped move the American economy into its service base mold that it is today which again helped develop ex-urban development. So around 60 years ago this suburban growth pattern took hold in the United States and with it brought a new kind of American lifestyle.

    This lifestyle and pattern of development has created a series of problems in the social and economic structures in America. Despite the perception of happiness and upward mobility, the suburban development patterns tend to cause a series of problems for its inhabitants. Physical and psychological isolation have caused mental health issues for many people. The inability to interact with neighbors easily because of low density, automobile dependent developments have caused problems such as boredom, petty crime, vandalism, and drug abuse (particularly prescription drugs). Neighborhoods with cul de sacs are a great example of connectivity problems between neighbors. Despite maybe being only a short distance between each house, a parent may have to drive miles to drop their children off at a friends house.

    In additional to social problems, we have found after 60 years of suburbia that these types of development bankrupt local governments. One of the best arguments that I have come across for high density development comes from the Strong towns organization (strongtowns.org). This organization primary concern is the financial solvency of local municipalities. They argue that, although seductive in the short term, low density, homogenous developments requiring new infrastructure are going killing the ability for American cities to grow (http://www.strongtowns.org/our-thinking/). Ultimately, after their first or second 25 year lifecycle these developments drain the financial resources of cities when they have to repair or rebuild the road and sewage infrastructures. Additionally the social services required (police stations, fire stations, hospitals, etc) to address these expansive areas are draining municipalities financial resources and driving them further into debt. Strong Towns argues that high density, incremental development near the city or urban core is the only way to assure municipal financial solvency in the future. We have to reverse the suburban development pattern that has dominated the American landscape since the end of World War II.

    As a designer and member of the millennium generation, this notion of high density development is powerful. I value experience and relationships, which are more easily obtained in high density cities than suburban neighborhoods. Also, although the single family dwelling is the one of the cornerstones to the American contribution to architecture, I believe working on mixed use, high density building types is the most exciting type of project.

  5. Post world war II American society saw rapid suburban growth as a result of the baby boom, economic boom, and shifting government policy facilitating the phenomena we know today as urban sprawl. After the war, legislation in the United States focused on combating communist ideas and enacted policies that encouraged things like home ownership through cheap subsidized home mortgages. Despite this intention many of the policies developed had socialist implications such as a massive push for infrastructure. Projects like the U.S. Highway Act and the construction of the Hoover Dam opened up massive areas previously impractical for development. Huge shifts in social behavior also played an immeasurable role in suburban growth. Urban flight became prevalent due to declining industrialization and post war urban conditions, new affordability of suburban houses, and racial policies such as school desegregation leading to “white flight.” Increasing population caused by the baby boom of the 1950’s coupled with a growing economy created a culture driven by consumption and the development of the American Dream as owning a big single family home with lots of space. Previously stable family units and communities began to shift with post war transiency and young people’s desire to be independent and move away from home at a young age. Houses are now looked at as an investment as people are pushed to buy the nicest house their income will allow while continuously looking for something bigger and better. Instead of living in one home for generations families now stay in a home for an average of 3-7 years. Society and residential development became centered around the automobile which has become an essential part of life in suburban communities and is the basis for much of its design. Although intentionally orchestrated, suburbanization in practice has a great deal of short comings with negative social, economic, and environmental implications.
    Decline in social capitol is in my opinion one of the most important issues associated with suburban sprawl. The images above, typical of suburban development, depict problems such as design homogeneity. Most subdivisions include homes with 4 or 5 house designs and create communities with very little diversity on all levels especially economic. People in different neighborhoods have access to different quality of services and education which effect future life choices and make it increasingly difficult to create an integrated society. Many subdivisions have covenants and regulate property use, upkeep, and appearance leading to isolated residences. Transiency and rapid turnover also leads to isolation as people no longer feel the need to be a part of the community in which they live. Most of these homes are built for inside function rather than outside with the emergence of design aspects such as front porches that are too small to actually use. The actual development of these areas has caused many issues through single use zoning and the construction of massive roads and cul-de-sacs. Most residential streets are built the size of county roads to allow cars to park on either side but instead of 55 mph speed limits they are marked 25 and lead to increased traffic deaths, injuries and property damage. Increased dependency on the automobile is a direct product of the need to drive in order to reach pretty much every service as well as work. Most subdivisions only allow the development of schools and churches, if anything, and did not even require sidewalks until very recently making it dangerous for children to walk and bike. Cul-de-sacs such as the one pictured above decreases interconnectedness between neighborhoods and make it necessary to drive multiple miles to get somewhere potentially right behind you. Partly fueled by the media a culture of fear has been created which is further facilitated by these bored isolated communities. Problems of obesity, crime, and prescription drug abuse have begun to plague these areas which have lost the value of community.
    Urban sprawl has also caused a great deal of both economic and environmental stress in the United States. Low density development leads to increased cost in infrastructure and providing services compared to high density urban areas. Construction of roads both to reduce congestion and connect these isolated regions seems to be never ending while public transportation in these areas has become nonviable increasing dependency on the automobile. Transportation costs increase due to car upkeep and the cost of gas. Having to commute, for many at least and hour each way to work, leads to a loss of time, productivity, and social capitol. These practices have also had a profound effect on pollution and fossil fuel use leading to many environmental problems. Land and water quality decline is an increasing problem due to things like run off from lawns and gardens that do not have cost and regulation limitations. I believe that this type of suburban development decreases quality of life on many levels. Urban sprawl has been fueled by misconceptions and it is unfortunate that we are just now making note of the issues it has caused yet there is still hope. Society is created by the culture of the area and it is our duty to be informed and make changes that facilitate positive and sustainable growth.

  6. Reblogged this on maybeokay and commented:
    These images are of urban sprawl, a phenomenon which has distinct, easily observable patterns: uniform houses along uniform roads laid out in fractal designs, accessible by a reliable network of freeways. However the development and impact of urban sprawl is also comprised of patterns. In some cases, these are divergences from earlier patterns, particularly pre-WWII trends, a significant one being stillness: growing up in an area and remaining there or nearby during adulthood; purchasing a house and staying there rather than moving repeatedly; altogether maintaining close proximity to a nucleus—family, hometown, city center. This on its own creates a pattern, a lifestyle template that repeats from generation to generation, making the summary of a child’s life sound significantly like the parents’.

    During the post-WWII period, in contrast, lifestyle patterns began to sync more obviously with spatial ones and the motif de jour was autonomy: more women worked and more people went to college, moving away from their hometowns. More people owned houses, particularly the suburban house with all the trimmings. Perhaps more importantly, car ownership grew massively. These changes in lifestyle had accompanying physical spatial effects. The building of suburbs changed the appearance and function of land, modified the border of cities, and put new towns on the map. It also caused a hollowing out of many city centers—first by individuals and families with the means and desire to leave, and eventually by many businesses due to both industrial decline and the increasing profitability of suburban establishment—that contributed inner city decay. New neighborhoods, businesses, and shopping centers popped up in the suburbs and a network of roads, freeways, and interstates allowed access to them. The car became king—widespread, unprecedentedly integrated into day to day life, and in many places (namely the suburbs) perhaps even necessary.

    Over the decades, urban sprawl generated other, less shiny or pleasant trends. Pockets of economic homogeneity developed as neighborhoods of similarly priced houses attracted (or barred) buyers with narrow income ranges. Likewise, investing in a home became significantly less about “home” and more about “investment.” Movement from house to house became more frequent and neighbors more unknown to and disconnected from one another—the loss of social capital. Cul de sacs became impediments to access. Isolation, boredom, and depression grew more common.

    There’s an irony to all of these pattern shifts—pre-war, post-war, modern day—illustrated well by the images of suburbs associated with each era. In the 1940’s and 50’s, ads extolled the suburbs, depicting them as a wonderland of yards, shiny products, house parties, and friendly neighbors. Pictures of neighborhoods like those in this blog were highly desired, places for which to strive. This is a major swing from the 1930’s when housing ads were still significantly composed of apartments for lease, when “attractively priced” city living still put up a fight against “lots of room” in the suburbs.

    It is also a major swing from the connotation conjured by images of the suburbs today. Architecture Daily did a write up on Chrisoph Gielen’s 2014 “Cipher” photography series this past week—aerial photographs of urban sprawl and particularly suburb layouts. Far from the gleaming and glorious ads of the 1950s, the rows of housing tracts were deemed “[a]t once fascinating and profoundly unsettling” and “relics from an era that was entirely defined by a belief in unlimited growth” (Quintal). Yet while we might not see the suburbs as hopefully as past generations—disappointed with their potential promise and inundated by their pitfalls—in more places than not, they are still being built.

    Quintal, Becky. “Christoph Gielen’s “Ciphers”: Aerial Views of American Sprawl” 14 Apr 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Apr 2014.

  7.       A half mile as the crow flies from the back door of my parents home in Parker Colorado, there used to be a large plateau, rolling and breaking into the larger foothills  as the Midwest plain becomes the Rocky Mountains. When we first moved into our home in 97 the general region was un-developed hills and pockets of forest. Over the course of 14 years the town of Parker exploded with suburban development. The plateau behind my parent’s house was purchased around 2010 and was subsequently cut and flattened, trucks and bulldozers running everyday through the spring. Then, they did nothing. Just sat on the lease, waiting for a real estate investor to put in the cash to build a pre-established set of lots, pre-determined houses (You can have option A, B or C but the color and annoying neighbor come standard). Of course local champions of the environment noticed and took up arms against the landowners, but there was simply nothing that could be done. The lease was clean and clear, and since there weren’t any rare species or habitat’s located on the land the developers had every right to “develop” the land. Around 2012 a real estate company came in and began building new single family homes on the property. I do not recall the name of the company but I am sure it was purposely oblique, referencing some sort of natural feature like “The Ridge” or “The Pinery”. I recall driving through the famine on the newly paved concrete roads. Simple, lulling turns terminating in one identical cul-de-sac after another. One sadly ironic street had been named “Aspen avenue”. It was located on a particularly nice crest in the land, shielded from the wind by a tall ridge, and open to the southern sun. The spot was actually quite perfect for a Home, until they tore down all the aspen to put in the road.

                   Now, construction in suburban developments is an exacting process. Houses going up in shockingly short time (Jesus may have risen in three days, but Sunny Bluff Construction™ can build you a house in two!). Developments begin selling the houses before they’ve finished building the block. Evidenced by the pictures in the post, one suburban neighborhood is nearly identical to all the others, varying distances from whatever parts of the city the local surburnites aren’t afraid to commute to. Now I am not against the idea of the suburbs per-se, I understand the need for people to group and organize, safety in numbers right? It is just there is an extravagant amount of waste that comes with poorly organized sprawl. Neighborhoods like the one behind my parent’s house puts strain on more than one part of its collective influences. The need for more and more roads to support 3.5 cars per suburban household, leads to concrete catastrophes like the multiple flyover’s you see on the post. I have a prediction. The flyover currently being completed, connecting College ave. to the mall and highway, will not solve the traffic problem at the intersection of Joyce. Within 7 years they will need more lanes, higher speeds. More lanes do not ease the build up traffic it just creates more opportunity for it. With this continued focus on the suburban ideal the eventual strain on moving parts will become too much. What happens if tomorrow we get hit with another oil crisis like in 1973 or 1979? What happens when all the blonde soccer mom’s can’t afford to drive their oversized SUV’s? Anarchy I tell you. The stuff of nightmares; people might actually have to walk or deal with other people on the bus or train. I shudder to imagine. 

    • Good post! Your comments about the flyover reminded me of something. There was a picture floating around a couple weeks ago of College Ave, taken in perhaps the 40’s. It was from where Applebee’s is now (across from the mall), looking down College towards where the overpass is being built now. There was absolutely nothing–open fields on either side of the road, nothing on the hills in the distance, two-lane College Ave with no lines. It’s wild to see how much the city has changed (granted, the 40s were a while ago), from an unlined road, to four lanes with traffic lights and on-ramps and soon a flyover. I definitely agree with you: the easier driving is (as via a new flyover, 540, etc.), the more people will drive and make it difficult again.

  8. Reblogged this on jwpruss and commented:
    Good ole suburbanism. We have all seen them and many of us grew up in them. The “burbs” are more numerous and populated now than ever before. People want to live the “American Dream” and today, living in suburbia is one of the aspects of that “dream.” You live in your oversized house, in a neighborhood or oversized houses, all of which are somewhat the same if not identical and cookie cutter in appearance, and commute into the city everyday to work. Now, this commute isn’t simple. You and the hundreds of thousands of other suburbanites fight you and the others to get to work on time on the crowded highways that resemble the one in the photo.

    Suburbs are becoming more and more tightly packed as developers try to squeeze as much profit as possible out of the land they are developing. More houses, more money, less space, that is how the developers work these days.

    The suburbs may seem all “happy-go-lucky” but they too come with their problems. The major ones being the social problems. People in suburbs aren’t as communal as they are in major cities. You deal with your nuclear family and not so much with your neighbor. Even the layout of subdivisions affects the social capital of suburbs. Children aren’t able to get around the neighborhood so easy and can’t interact with more children like they are able to on the grid-plotted neighborhoods of the city. The layouts also affect the safety of the neighborhood. The houses are on small lots and built close to the street. This makes parking difficult and gives children less room to play so they have to resort to playing in the street. It is somewhat difficult to maneuver subdivision road networks due to the layouts and obstacles such as parked cars in the street. Even though the roads are designed to facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles, in reality they have a difficult time reaching an emergency with haste due to the obstacles of parked cars, weird layouts, and the one I love the most, having multiple streets with the same name but different suffix such as road, drive, cove, way, etc. Even with GPS navigation today, this causes difficulty for both the person reporting the emergency and the emergency responders.

    The suburbs are also not as immune to crime as many people think. Crooks know that workers populate suburbs. During the day most neighborhoods are almost completely empty because everyone is at work miles away. The lack of eyes watching the neighborhood allows crooks a great opportunity to rob the homes.

    Another major problem with suburbs is traffic. Almost every household in suburbs has a vehicle, if not two. If the majority of the households commute, traffic is atrocious. Highways become overcrowded and jam packed at peak rush hours leading to wasted time stuck in traffic. Then the highways are widened and rebuilt to alleviate the problem of overcrowding. But as soon as the highways are reopened, more people are enticed to move into the area because the highway can get you into the city more quickly than before and then the highway becomes overcrowded once again and the vicious cycle continues.

    The suburbs are home to very large percentage of Americans and that number will only grow in time. Americana and suburbanism have become hand-in-hand.

  9. Reblogged this on My Thoughts About Urban Geography and commented:
    So many things about this collection of images just makes me cringe from a whole variety of standpoints. To start somewhat simply, the bottom picture just screams pollution. The creation of suburbs because of our love of the “American dream” and of our precious cars leads to these massive infrastructure works, which in and of themselves are bad for the environment and extremely costly, that have us driving everywhere because we all have to go to the city to work and shop and for entertainment yet want to live 20 miles away from it. All this driving is burning through our oil supply and sending unnecessary amounts of pollution into the sky. If everyone lived closer to or inside the city, there would be a drastic change in the amount of money spent on gas and these massive infrastructure projects. This money could be spent inside the city on the inner roads, better public transportation, schools, public assistance programs, etc. Instead, we use this money on roads and bridges that have to be rebuilt again in 10-15 years.
    The idea of suburbs that have been implanted in our country since the industrial revolution here, is just an all around terrible thing that needs to be reversed. The only problem is that is near impossible. The only people I can really think that are benefitting from this ideal are anyone involved in the housing market: banks, realtors, etc. They convince us that we can afford something that we only actually own in 30 years from the date we decided to buy, yet we only stay in these houses until we gain equity in the property or it rises in value so that we can trade up to something bigger and better. So while we think we own something, we really don’t. We just end up making a house payment for the rest of our lives without ever really reaping the rewards or actual value of the home. This almost works the same with our cars. For example, my family always has a car payment. At least one, normally two. Whenever we finally get one paid off, instead of saving that money and doing something else with it, we trade in a working vehicle for less than the actual value of it and get something else that we will spend another 7-10 years paying almost twice the actual value of it.
    Other problems arising in and because of suburbs are us all morphing into a species of identical, antisocial, prescription drug dependent beings buying into anything corporate America decides is part of our ideal “American dream” lifestyle without giving it a second thought. These suburbs and their cul-de-sacs and our driveways are creating these isolation conditions leading to the rise in teen depression and prescription drug dependency. This also creates these almost unsafe neighborhoods of kids not getting the amount of social interaction needed which could lead to more complex problems in schools with bullying and similar matters. I wish there was a way to get these facts out to and start to reverse this rising trend and start creating better cities and reenforcing the idea that the city is an awesome place and better for everyone and the environment.

  10. Reblogged this on The Urban World and commented:
    The sprawling suburbs, full of cookie cutter subdivisions, cul-de-sacs, and dense with houses nestled against the highway systems providing these subdivisions their lifeline to the world, a world that, in regards to their residence, they have attempted to set apart from themselves, as though their residence an unassailable abode where any external intrusion is a violation, unjustness inflicted with prejudice against the occupant of said abode. The design is based on maximizing interior space against the improbably small nature of the lots, to maximize the market value of the property, resulting in lots emphasizing staying indoors. After all, it is most difficult to spend time in a yard when there is none to speak of. This has the unintended consequence of making people spend more time indoors, further isolating them from each other in a neighborhood devoid of sidewalks, benches, or green spaces, with little outdoor space for children to utilize for play. Not only does this cause families to stay indoors for a greater proportion of time, reducing the odds of neighbors mixing in social congress, but, along with the transient nature of American society, contributes to the steep decline of social capital in most, if not all, of America’s suburbs. With the unimaginative homogeneity in place to tighten the economic strike zone of the potential homeowner, the enticing lure of further growth pushing any given lot’s value up over time, all there encouraging income segregation based on subdivision lot value, both what subdivision one lived in, as well as their relative value of their property within their subdivision. With the Internet there to provide easy peeks into the value of a neighbor’s home, social interaction between households kept to a minimum, and the substantial yearly household turnover, it is not hard to understand why lonely housewives can do nothing but become mired in anxiety, and, once prescribed whatever easily abused narcotic capsule, can provide an authentic present-day retelling of George Lucas’ directorial debut of THX 1138. Unfortunately, with stolen pills either sold or abused by the children, or mixing of pills and other substances (alcohol or opiates) by the mother, the efficacy of the pharmaceutical companies’ solutions are on the wane as mortality rates and social blight are on the rise. One may hope, perhaps, that as the internet and computer technology advances, and online social media outlets grow, we will at least find it possible to connect and remain connected to those we truly hold dear, across vast distances, after great lengths of time, and find, perhaps, small comfort amongst distant and beloved friends and family. Surely that is the acceptable alternative to allowing for larger yards, benches, sidewalks, or green spaces and parks, and that extraordinarily calculable deduction from a company’s profits. Unfortunately, the iron triangle allows check-writing lobbies far too influential for anyone’s good the power to dictate their own regulations, resulting in cookie cutter America, duplicated endlessly from coast with rare historical architectural narratives intersperesed throughout in older urban environs, well away from the bland, isolationist expressions of society found in the suburbs.

  11. Reblogged this on parymayne and commented:
    In the years immediately following World War II, America’s urban areas were suburbanized as a generation of baby boomers was born and their parents looked for a home that could provide them with the American Dream. The government encouraged the change in the American development pattern by making home loans easier to obtain with less money down, and by building the interstate highway system so that commuting would be easy. The government made the loans specifically available to families purchasing new single family homes sparking expansion rather than gentrification. Developers responded to the demand for such homes by applying the assembly line to kit homes and marketing them as the American Dream. The green image of the “Cranberry” is the perfect example of these post-war suburban housing developments. They were designed to be small and affordable. These developers though have since found ways to encourage people to desire bigger and pricier investments in their future.
    Developers still market and build suburban homes in the same way, but lot sizes and square footage have increased drastically, and the roads are laid out in cul-de-sacs. These factors have accelerated the process of suburbanization into the present development pattern known as sprawl. The picture left of “Cranberry” is a perfect example of this pattern. Featuring four lane streets with few cars on them and treeless landscapes, people are trading up to these larger square boxes. As shown by the top right image these homes have come to feature garages, unlike the “Cranberry”. Further away from the inner city public transit is less prevalent, and car ownership is very important to residents.
    Large amounts of land have been consumed by sprawl and highways have been widened to accommodate larger numbers of suburbanites commuting from farther distances. As sprawl has taken-off, families have abandoned their inner suburban homes for the newer ones further out, and the urban donut has gotten a bigger hole. These post-war developments now look like the bottom image because some of the homes have been cleared to expand highways to grant access to sprawlers. Because of this the layer of smog frosting on top of the donut has gotten thicker. On the plus side, these post-war suburban streets can finally live up to their names of Oakfield St. and Sycamore Dr. as some of the trees have grown back. Green sprinkles!
    The top center image shows just how vast sprawl is by depicting many square miles of homes with next to no commercial or industrial development mixed in. Zoning is to blame for this trend. People aim to separate land uses claiming that it will protect property values and keep neighborhoods safe. In my opinion, this image looks more like a dessert than a neighborhood because it lacks anything lush or vibrant. The sorry attempt to preserve some greenspace is a failure because it is disconnected from human use. A sense of community is not visible in these developments, and people without transportation are stranded in them. The top left image shows grass and a street with no sidewalk in between. For some, their houses have become a cage leading to depression, and sprawl had not lived up to the American Dream that they thought it would guarantee.

  12. Reblogged this on esobrien and commented:
    In the post-war United States, suburbanization grew rapidly, mainly encouraged by the baby boom, government policy, and the economic boom of the 1950s and 60s. The demographic shift caused many new families to require larger homes typically single-detached homes to support all of them comfortably. Also, in the early ages of the Cold War, the government ideology against Communism was largely manifested in the form of policy, counteracting socialistic ideas; this made it easier for people to invest in housing so they would be better invested in the society as a whole. The greater financial stability also led to people becoming more willing to purchase a house, so that homeownership was no longer tied to the middle class alone, but to a wider range of the American population. The additional increase in the overall disposable income also made suburban growth possible because different markets, such as retail, entertainment, and consumer services, were able to form and support the suburban population.
    However, suburban growth created a new set of problems for the American way of life. Across the country, certain characteristics began to form in each of these new suburban areas, including types of development and automobile dependency. Many suburbs, as see in the photos, took on similar designs from house to house, and from neighborhood to neighborhood. The house designs themselves became very homogenous, and in a particular community were all found in a narrow band of price range. Seeing as houses in America have become an investment not a permanent home or shelter, it seems as if it is all about having the right timing and working the market well. Another commonality is the actual layout or format of the suburban neighborhoods. Cul-de-sacs became the preferred mode of design, although they encourage isolation for teenagers and the elderly, are more than undesirable for access, and increase the need for cars. This dependency on cars was a part of a much larger economic issue in American cities and suburbs. The infrastructure costs increased as things such as water, sewer systems, and roads were paid for by taxes and included the initial cost and the maintenance needed over time. Large interstate systems in the bigger cities created problems with productivity in the work place, as people lost such a high amount of time in the commute to and from work. This problem is especially prevalent in places such as Los Angeles. The high automobile use that accompanies suburbs also contributes to environmental problems.
    As expected, the fossil fuel use and pollution have been on the steady increase since the start of the heavy use of automobiles across the country. Additionally, suburban growth has led to the decline of land and water quality as fertilizer and pesticides fill the rain water runoff, which drains into river systems. The sprawl puts people in more forested areas as well, so forest fires have a much larger risk nowadays.
    One way to combat these issues caused by suburbanization is smart growth. Increasingly communities are forming that are more transit oriented, walkable, and cycle friendly. Incentives including putting showers in at work so people make people more willing to participate in these new accommodations to how suburban growth has affected how much of America now functions.

  13. The early twentieth century saw a major change in the urban and economic landscape of America. There also came about a change in the American family as suburbs became more popular. Economic improvement came with the building and expansion of suburban communities with the massive investment by the government in infrastructure and cheap mortgages. The government was spending huge amounts of money (consuming) to put more people to work in the midst of the Great Depression. Roads, bridges, and dams were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Consumption helped cities in the western United States to grow—roads, electric power, and water were also needed to foster this growth. Suburbs grew rapidly with the provision of these services. The South also experienced major urban growth in the 1950s; industries left the Northeast and Midwest (which are now commonly referred to as the Rust Belt) and moved south. Consumption considerably increased after World War II, when many soldiers returned home and began families. This began the Baby Boom, the dramatic rise in the number of new births from 1946 to 1964 (about.com). According to Matt Rosenberg, around 79 million babies were born within this nineteen-year period (about.com). The Baby Boom help spur economic growth through increased consumption as babies needed plenty of stuff! Cheap mortgaging, the other aforementioned investment, was made by the government to prevent the growth of socialistic or communistic beliefs in the U.S. Home ownership was a focal point in the housing investment. The government wanted more people to own their homes by promoting the American Dream—having one’s own house, yard, car, etc.
    America’s urban landscape dramatically changed with the increasing popularity of the suburbs. Suburbs became place for middle class families to raise their children—they believed this setting to be a safe place to live and work. Cul-de-sacs became especially popular in that residents thought it to be safer and better protected from crime. However, others believed that cul-de-sacs created isolation and increased automobile fuel use (knowing that they were supposedly difficult to access). With the growing popularity of automobiles, people began to rely less on public transport and commute longer distances. With the evolution of the suburbs came a change in the family life cycle: a home-based shift to independent living. Historically children stayed at home while going to junior college and working a job. During the mid-twentieth century, however, there was postwar transiency—young adults now moved out of the home. Oftentimes single people lived together in an apartment with other single people. From within the suburbs, the typical American house design evolved. Front porches started to disappear as the need for inter-house interaction (and a sense of community) decreased. More specialized rooms—from dens to entertainment rooms and (in the modern-day) computer rooms—found their way into many house blueprints. Houses were no longer designed for maximum interaction.
    People were drawn to the suburbs by housing prices, reduction in car density, and reduction in need for “social rules.” But as popular as suburbs are, suburbs are not without its drawbacks. Social problems include traffic deaths and property damage (to mailboxes, namely), lack of diversity, decline in social capital (sense or value of community or togetherness) and issues of neighborhood quality (residential turnover, etc.). Economic problems include increased infrastructure and transportation costs, and increased cost for services (public transport) for the inner city. There are also environmental issues, notably fossil fuel use, loss of green space to impervious surfaces, and land and water quality decline (for example, from use of fertilizers and pesticides). But no matter which view one takes, it is interesting how the suburbs and the government’s investment in it and other infrastructure completely changed the way that many Americans lived.

  14. Reblogged this on Uncharted and commented:
    Above are photographs of examples of the urban sprawl or also known as suburban sprawl post World War 2. Urban Sprawl is defined as the spreading of a city and its suburbs over rural land at the fringe of an urban area. The people that reside in these areas tend to live in a single-family home and commute by automobile to work or to run errands elsewhere. This wide spread of moving to housing from within the inner city borders to the countryside started happening in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This was after World War 2 when the GI Bill was implemented and the road building projects were put into place. The so called “suburbia” life was publicized as a better quality of life. Along with the governments help with subsidies and cheap land to buy for housing, urban sprawl went through the population like fire. As it spread though, there was very small amount of control over the planning of these suburban areas. These vastly growing suburban areas are generally a low densely populated development that consists of strip malls and large office buildings, and housing subdivisions, which are all connected by roads. The subdivisions are usually priced within a specific price range. With this wide spread of people, you have a smaller amount of people that own a larger part of land. As the people and housing spreads out so do the buildings and roads. Little did we know, all these factors put together would have a tremendous impact on our environment around us, which we now are seeing signs of in this day. We now see that the urban sprawl has had a detrimental effect on the ecological systems and their functions in nature. Some examples that we can look at are the wildlife habitats and wetlands. The suburban areas what are connected to the commercial developments have now resulted in habitat fragmentation, where it forces the animals that once lived within that area to migrate elsewhere. Also it is changing the migration patterns of certain animals and blocking feeding areas. Not to mention that in urban sprawl areas there is not much in the way of public transportation, so in turn most families own at least one vehicle. This in fluctuates the carbon emissions along with other effects that cars bring into the environment such as air and noise pollutants. With these buildings, huge parking lots and streets, our water supply has been endangered of getting contamination with the new pollutants being synced with the water supply by ways of runoff. For the most part the government is still promoting sprawl, but now very recent there has been efforts to start building “up” in what cities have emerged from this sprawl or urbanization. They are trying to have more restrictive development and zoning policies put into action as well as including tax incentives. Also an effort in making public transportation more affordable and accessible is starting to become more prominent. Urban sprawl is something that is somewhat of a double edged sword, it has its good points but also it is having a huge impact on our environment around us.

    http://enviroliteracy.org/article.php/409.html
    http://wd.northwestern.edu/assets/Watersheds-7-Urban-Sprawl-article-questions.pdf

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