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DECENTRALIZATION The Creation of the Suburb. The Street as Public Space … the standard up to the mid 20 th c.

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Presentation on theme: "DECENTRALIZATION The Creation of the Suburb. The Street as Public Space … the standard up to the mid 20 th c."— Presentation transcript:

1 DECENTRALIZATION The Creation of the Suburb

2 The Street as Public Space … the standard up to the mid 20 th c.

3 Riverside, Illinois  designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, 1869  a prototype suburb 9 mi. from Chicago  reached by streetcar  Why? –Cities at that time were smoky, dirty, places –Urban ailments were wrongly associated with density itself –Suburbs quickly became the fashionable places for the wealthy to live

4 The streetcar  From the 1870s  Driven by horse, by cable, and eventually by electricity –on-grade –elevated (the “el”) –below ground (the subway or “metro”)  Driven out of business in the 1950s in the US through buy-outs, aggressive competition from bus companies, and government subsidization of freeways

5 The Interstate Freeway FAHA: Federal Aid Highway Act (1956) Federally-subsidized highway construction (states ended up paying only 10%) Congress created a form of corporate welfare under hard lobbying from the “road gang”: oil, car, and tire corporations

6 The Post-War House (from 1940s) a product of its economic and social environment

7 Mass-produced housing Levittown, etc. from 1950s Prefab parts, standardized plans, rotating work crews

8 A Levittown Photo Album Federal Govt. insured home loan providers from 1933 (FHA) Term was lengthened from 5-10 yrs to yrs. Veterans Administration (GI-Bill) created no-down-payment loans

9 What is it? The Mall (from 1950s) Came into direct competition with downtown shopping districts and external pedestrian space, in general

10 The Service-Oriented Suburban Office Building (from 1970s)

11 The Back Office (from 1980s)

12 Greenfields 1980s

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14 Brownfields

15 TOADs Temporarily Obsolete and Derelict Structures “TOADs”

16 Purified Residential Spaces

17 Centrifugal Forces  classism  racism  federal policy  automobile dependency  ageing infrastructure  inner-city crime  school quality  inner-city pollution

18 Cyclical Relationship DECENTRALIZATION OF JOBS INCREASING CRIME & TENSION IN INNER CITY FLIGHT OF AFFLUENT POPULATIONS

19 What happens to those who remain in the inner city?

20 Urbanization of Poverty  less than 1/3 of the poor in 1961 lived in inner city areas, now about 1/2 of the poor live in these areas  level of urban poverty has gotten worse: from less than 40% to more than 50% in Chicago’s Black Belt  ghettos are expanding at their edges

21 Discovery of the 1990s  If everyone wants to live where the rich live, and the rich flee to the suburbs or the “urban fringe,” only the really poor will be left in the inner city  This will mean the city has few fiscal resources to address social and environmental problems  Urban problems will fester and cities will become hostile, dangerous places  90% of those who live there will suffer from the unfavorable conditions without sharing any of the “blame”  The way for well-off urbanites to address the social problems of the inner city is to quit running away

22 Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton  More than 85% of all ghetto-dwellers by 1990 were ethnic minorities –Racial segregation got much worse up to 1990 (most recent data they obtained)  Fiscal retrenchment –Schools were overcrowded and poor quality so students and parents avoided them –Apartment maintenance by landlords declined –Street and utility maintenance by the city declined –Quality of policing and fire protection declined  Spatial mismatch –Job opportunities disappeared as inner-city businesses were replaced by shopping malls in the suburbs  Unemployment led to substance abuse –chemical addiction affected pre-teens –addiction led to a general sense of hopelessness

23 Much of this comes down to a struggle against anti-urban ideologies What are our dreams of the “good life”?

24 Anti-Urban Dreams

25 More Anti-Urban Dreams …

26 …and a Little Paranoia

27 Costs of the Anti-Urban Dream

28 Deforestation

29 Who Suffers from Exurban Development? Possum photo from

30 Exurban Development

31 Habitat destruction for lawn

32 Habitat destruction for recreation

33 An Urban Renaissance?

34 Pedestrian Malls Pearl Street Mall (Boulder, Colorado)

35 Riverwalk (San Antonio)

36 Quincy Market (Boston)

37 Medium to High-Density, Mixed-Use Developments in Austin The Triangle Development The Mueller Development

38 Mueller Community, Austin (under construction)

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40 New Downtown Development

41 Gentrification  Actual realtor’s listing (from Toronto) Grand High Park residence “Diamond in the rough” with parking Awaits your touch Exceptionally high basement with separate entrance Easy access to High Park & subway Stroll to trendy Bloor Street shops & restaurants

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44 Problems with the “Urban Renaissance”  Rising cost of an apartment lease and replacement of low- income populations by professionals (gentrification)  Displacement of the urban poor to the urban fringe –Mobile home parks interspersed with new $200,000 homes at the fringe –Leapfrog development  Extra demands on old urban infrastructure –Must provide space for more cars, more people, more businesses, etc. –Must complement higher densities with greater access to public transit: buses and light rail –Must safely accommodate more of two kinds of pedestrians: walkers and bikers –Must integrate historic architecture and sense of place with large amounts of new construction

45 Summary  The city has undergone a series of changes throughout the 20 th century  Decentralization has had a detrimental effect on inner city areas  The federal government has played a major role, encouraging and literally subsidizing decentralization  Racist and classist attitudes drove the initial wave of suburbanization and were “proven” by the evidence of decline that followed from massive decentralization and disinvestment  Since the mid 1990s, a wave of interest has brought people back to the city and has rejuvenated interest in urban living, producing a kind of urban renaissance or revitalization with some good effects but also some challenges and some negatives


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