suburban futures – mammoth // building nothing out of something

suburban futures

At Next City, Amanda Kolson Hurley reports on two examples of contemporary suburban growth, Montgomery County in Maryland and the York region of Ontario, and ties those two examples into broader questions regarding the future viability of suburbanism:

Dead malls. Zombie subdivisions. Metastasizing sprawl. Not a horror movie, but the suburbs circa 2014, or at least the media version of them. We’ve all seen the “suburban wasteland” photos from the Great Recession, the parched streets out West, foreclosure signs swinging in their yards. We’ve read about The End of the Suburbs. No wonder the young and the affluent have flocked back to cities: Suburbia’s demise seems imminent, and assured.

Except that it’s not. More than half of Americans live in suburbs, and about 75 percent of postwar construction has happened in the suburbs. That is a lot of people, and a lot of built environment, for urbanists to just wish away. One hundred and fifty million or so suburbanites have to live somewhere, and preferably not too far from their places of work, which are mostly in the ’burbs, too: More than three-quarters of jobs in U.S. metropolitan areas are located outside the urban core, and 43 percent are at least 10 miles away. (City living doesn’t look like such an environmental slam-dunk when you consider the number of jobs that require a long commute from downtown.) In Canada, two-thirds of the population lives in suburbs, according to a new study, and five times as many people are settling on the edges of major cities as they are in their cores.

Read the full article at Next City.

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