History of Urban Sprawl
Urban sprawl first existed
when the first city first existed. As
long as inner city areas have been overcrowded there has been a tendency
for cites to expand their boundaries into neighboring rural lands.
One of the earliest documented examples of this was
“This great city had an estimated population of 1 million people piled up within city walls that enclosed a little more than six miles. […] A small group of Roans lived in splendor in spacious palaces […] that took most of the space within the walls” (Breugmann 23).
This caused the poorer citizens, who were the vast majority of the population, to either live crowded together in the outer sections of the city, or to live just outside the city walls in the lands called ‘suburbium.’ As could be expected, the city would expand into suburbium over time, creating a new suburbium, literally meaning below city limits.
Such expansion cycles can
be found in virtually every major metropolitan area.
The surprising thing about North American urban sprawl, however,
is that unlike the sprawl in
Since the 1970s, urban sprawl has been as
strong as ever. Some areas,
Today, urban sprawl is more and more becoming a topic of household discussion. Urban sprawl is taught in classrooms around the country. Everyone is familiar with the idea of expanding cities and the words urban sprawl, whether or not they know the truth behind those words or not. The connotation is generally a negative one, however, since it is due mainly to anti-sprawl groups for getting the general public aware of the issue.
Population densities of cities are also at an all-time low. Only two cities in America have a population density of more than 10,000 people per square mile. New York City at 26,000 people per square mile and Chicago at 13,000 people per square mile, are also the two cities with , arguably, the best public transportation system in the country (Breugmann 55). This leads many to believe that a density of 10,000 people per square mile is an indicator of how successful a public transportation system will be, with the public transportation of cities below that mark becoming failures in long run analyses. Rochester's population density, in the 2000 census, was only 6,132.9 people per square mile.
Many people tend to
rally behind the positive aspects of sprawl, and speak out against
anti-sprawl movements. The positive aspects of sprawl include being able to hold a larger
population, and development of land for sprawl often makes more jobs in the
short run. However, the long term negative aspects of sprawl
outweigh any short term benefits, in my opinion.
Email: Karl Keily