Urban Studies

Urban Studies

The late 20th Century in American urban growth was largely about dispersion and ultimately suburban sprawl. By the end of the century, more than 50% of Americans lived in the suburbs. Why? What caused the suburban development of American cities? What were the primary factors that lead to the suburbanization of America? To what extent was suburban development the result of the “myth of suburbia?” A careful reading of Palen and Phillips should enable you to answer all of these questions.

While the readings (especially Palen Chap. 6) should help you understand the phenomena of “suburbanization,” the texts (esp. Phillips) do little to address contemporary trends that some urbanists (e.g. Gallagher 2013) suggest indicate sprawl may finally have “hit the wall.” In 2011, for the first time in a century, urban growth exceeded suburban growth. Why? What’s happened? Does this represent a fundamental change in the spatial pattern/trend of urban growth in the United States?

Gallagher indicates that your generation (“millennials”- people born roughly between 1980 and 2010) have different attitudes about urban life. While previous generations sought the idyllic life in the

suburbs, millennials seem to prefer the city life—more than 75% of millennials indicate they want to live in the “urban core.” Is she correct? Do millennials really have different residential aspirations? If so, how can this be explained?

► Assignment:

1) Read/review the assigned readings in: (J) The Urban World (Palen 2015) Chaps. 5,6

(B) City Lights (Phillips 2010) Chaps. 7,8

2) In a short essay address the following questions: (focus your essay on the questions/issues you find most interesting or intriguing, you don’t need to directly answer all of the questions below, they’re simply “prompts” to get you thinking about whether or not you think you and your generation will continue to live in the suburbs or will move toward a more “urban” lifestyle.)

Where do you want to live? In the suburbs or in the city (AKA “urban core” or “city center”)? What do you see as the pros and cons of these two environments? Do you believe that your generation really has changed their attitudes about the suburbs? Does the Harvard study cause you to question Gallagher’s hypothesis? If Gallagher is correct and we really have reached the “end of the suburbs,” will that be good or bad for American cities? Why? What are the pros and cons of a trend away from suburban living?

· Your essay should be approximately 500 words (typically no more than 2 pages); be coherent and concise

· Your essay must be “typed” using a conventional font (no smaller than 11) and format

· You must turn in a hard copy of your essay in class on the due date; email submissions will not be accepted; late papers will generally not be accepted

· Your essay is worth a possible 20 points total

· Your essay will be evaluated on the following elements:

1) substantive content, organization, logic, etc.

2) grammar, style, editing, etc.

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