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Suburban Sprawl: Making the Best of It

by Will Wlizlo

Tags: Politics, Suburbs, Cities, Urban Planning, Joel Kotkin, Foreign Policy, Will Wlizlo,


These days, scholars and activists trying to map the ideal form, function, and identity of cities in our globalizing world are mostly advocating for revitalized urban cores. Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, offers a counterpoint in the September-October issue of Foreign Policy, arguing that the creation of a strong ring of suburbs and smaller cities is the best way to ensure healthy economic growth and human well-being.

Kotkin’s observation of wealth distribution around urban areas is particularly compelling:

Disparity between living conditions in cities and suburbs, Kotkin concludes, is an element missing from the current urban planning discussion. “The goal of urban planners should not be to fulfill their own grandiose visions of megacities on a hill, but to meet the needs of the people living in them, particularly those people suffering from overcrowding, environmental misery, and social inequality. When it comes to exporting our notions to the rest of the globe, we must be aware of our own susceptibility to fashionable theories in urban design—because while the West may be able to live with its mistakes, the developing world doesn't enjoy that luxury.”

Source: Foreign Policy

Image by rxb, licensed under Creative Commons.