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suburb vs. exurb?


mattnf

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What exactly is the difference? Is there any?

Exurbs have been defined as:

- Mixed rural/suburban areas

- Cities or towns that are their own entities but the metro area of the large city has grown out to meet them

(example: Aurora, Illinois; Oshawa, Ontario)

- Newer suburbs - tend to be less planned, less dense and less pedestrian-friendly than older suburbs

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I don't know if there are any official standards to distinquish between suburbs and exurbs. In fact, the first pictures looks borderline urban to me with those main streets lined with what looks like retail. Maybe "inner suburb" is the best way to describe it. And the 2nd picture looks purely suburban to me.

Lincoln Park: 11 miles (google driving directions) from Detroit and 7,000/sq mile (rounded)

Canton: 30 miles from Detroit and 2,000/sq mile

I'm curious to know what distance from a core city and density warrants being called a suburb or exurb in people's opinion.

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Today's exurb is tomorrow's suburb. Exurbs are newly settled rural areas that have traditionally been rural, whereas suburbs are any area that has a mutual relationship with a larger municipality. In Atlanta their are older "streetcar" suburbs close to the city center, such as Grant Park or Druid Hills and newer "auto" suburbs a little farther out, like Roswell and Deluth. A little farther up the interstates are today's exurbs, places like Cumming and Jasper. Unfortunately most exurbs are being developed just like the newer suburbs and will be doomed to repeat the mistakes if their older counterparts.

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To me, an "exurb" is an area on the fringes of a metropolitan area that is rapidly undergoing disparate development. The trademarks are residential developments with lots of cul-de-sacs and houses but no variety (e.g. retail) surrouned by expanses of farmland / swamp / forest, usually connected to highways, which may have developed "retail oases" and office parks, the exurban equivalent of commercial development. However, these generally develop independent of pre-existing retail and office agglomerations. So baically exurbia is what would happen if an angry two-year-old started scribbling with different colors on a map.

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Think of it from the perspective of coming into a metropolitan area rather than going out of one from a city center.

Detroit's exurbs begin, in some locations, 55 miles from the city. Driving in on I-96, the feeway widens amongst agriculture fields and lush, tree-covered areas. Soon, you can spot sporatic McMansions sprawled out on rolling terrain. These homes are more or less the outskirts of exurban communities such as Howell, Brighton, and South Lyon. Though these towns have their own distinct character, their surroundings have developed into leapfrogged housing that is so sprawled, it mingles with the suburbs the further into the metropolitan area that you go.

There really aren't many jobs in the exurbs aside from second-tier commerce that supports the bigger business of the suburbs. An offic park will sprout up every now and then, but the exurbs are mostly defined by single-family housing, abundant acreage, and even dirt roads on occassion. Unlike the suburbs, there is less evidence of public transportation, which is why freeways in exurban areas tend to be some of the most congested since they provide the backbone to countless "tributary roads" that trickle out into the seemingly unending dots of development, all linking (some way or another) to the downtown core.

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Haha, I live in an exurb myself then. :rofl::ph34r: Yep, housing develpoments going up every other week, strip malls, McDonalds, bigg malls, chain retaurants.. That'd be an exurb. The sprawl around philly is horrible, going down any state road around here all you see is cokie-cutter houses in every direction.... all on old farmland of course.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's what my Urban Geography Textbook says:

Suburb: An outlying residential district of a city

Exurb: Small, semi-rural towns at least 100 miles away from major metropolitan areas that house suburbanites seeking cheaper housing, a slower plce of life and desire to be near nature.

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Somehow that definition doesn't work for me - 100 miles? That is far beyond commuting time - even if you lived directly next to a highway, had no traffic, and could get off of the highway right where you worked, it would take an hour and a half. When I was commuting 50 miles each way, it was taking me over 2 hours.

I find that exurbans usually commute to edge cities and suburbs rather than city centers. This effectively cuts the distance in half. They are still depedent on the Metro and city center, but in a less direct way.

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If everyone is relying on the city for support, then in fact shouldn't it be a suburb? I didn't realize that a suburb could only be a grid with no trees at all.

I wonder if the real issue is that the core city is still trying to - for lack of a better term - take credit for the whole region, when in fact in some cases the community in question may be a suburb of something that the core city considers a suburb of itself. So maybe the stereotyping of these kinds of communities inadvertantly is prohibiting other denser cores from establishing themselves?

You've lost me.

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I think I follow cloudship, in other words those unfortunate towns that were trapped by the sea of sprawl that engulfs large cities.

I don't know, I usually just feel sorry for those towns, there are a number of lovely towns surrounding Atlanta that are now just known for boring faceless suburbs - Roswell, Marietta, Jonesboro...

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Sorry. I know - my writing leaves a bit to be desired.

Basically, it sounds to me that people are taking a very big city-centric view. They then want to categorize everything that isn't within that one major core as sprawl, and they try to call it all suburbs. But what do they do about those areas that arent' completely spraw? They need to fit it in, so they label it the Exurb, trying to categorize it into sprawl that actually has some green to it.

The problem is, that this is so prevalent, not just in deisng terms but in simply looing for a job, news coverage, etc. - that it completely ignores, and in many cases undermines, smaller core areas that are devloping around the larger core. So instead of letting these cores develop, it almost forces the surrounding areas into becoming just sprawl.

I think I get what you're saying now. There are many areas around big cities that are not sprawling at all, but are in fact dense cores that are often overlooked, and should not be considered suburbs at all. Like Hoboken and West New York, NJ, these are in no way "suburban" or sprawling at all, yet are considered "suburbs" by many just because they are small in area and are outside of a city. Is this what you mean?

To me, suburbs are those communities around cities that are sprawling, and exurbs are those even farther from the city that are sprawling at an even lower density. Basically, I don't think you can call a place a suburb unless it is sprawling, but this is just my opinion. For instance, I wouldn't say that Revere, MA is a suburb, it's far too urban and dense despite being a small (in area) community outside of a major city (Boston). Likewise, a place like Harrison, NJ isn't really a suburb to me either. Although a lot of these areas are dependent on the core cities for jobs (which is why many consider them suburbs), I don't base the "suburban criteria" on this. Jobs are all over the metro area now, so if we went by that criteria then places like Burlington, MA (clearly sprawl and NOT a city, despite its high concentration of jobs) would be considered a core city and Woburn would be its suburb. I hope I'm making sense here. To me, the classification of areas should be based on density, I guess that's what I'm trying to say.

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Recchia - then what again is your urban/suburban definition for streetcar suburbs. Particularly those that are mixed use, population density above 5k per square mile, small lots, & have varying housing unit types.

I would most definitely consider them to be not suburban at all, but rather urban.

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  • 1 month later...

I live in Newnan GA. It's a little less than 40 miles away from Atlanta. I do think it's an exurb because when people in the area ask me where I'm from, I say Newnan- and when people from out of the region or out of state ask me the same question, I say I'm from Atlanta. An exurb is a community that can stand alone on a smaller scale, but on a larger scale is part of the big city it's close to.

Examples of Exurbs in Metro Atlanta:

Newnan- 38 miles

Griffin- 39 miles

Villa Rica- 35 miles

Canton- 41 miles

Cumming- 39 miles

Gainesville- 50 miles (debatable)

McDonough-32 Miles (debatable)

-IMO, an exurb is between 35 and 50 miles from a city

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In the past I've calculated any exurb as being a commuting suburb of a primary urban area but not within the immediate mass of 1k people per square mile. I'm not positive that is the best method - but I have toyed with other critierias.

I found querying areas based on population growth, population denstiy & size of household yields a fairly accurate snapshot on what exurbia is. Which would be under 5k per square mile, a positive population rate & a larger household size. The same could be found for stable suburban areas & even urban areas.

My basic theory being urban, suburban, exurban & rural areas are influenced as much by demographic indicators as density. Particularly in lower dense cities, where the typical urban indicator of small household size or even housing unit ratio immediately surrounding the city center would mean young single professionals living in condos. I've only tested it with Atlanta, but once I have some methodology I could put in paper I might test it against other cities.

I live in Newnan GA. It's a little less than 40 miles away from Atlanta. I do think it's an exurb because when people in the area ask me where I'm from, I say Newnan- and when people from out of the region or out of state ask me the same question, I say I'm from Atlanta. An exurb is a community that can stand alone on a smaller scale, but on a larger scale is part of the big city it's close to.

Examples of Exurbs in Metro Atlanta:

Newnan- 38 miles

Griffin- 39 miles

Villa Rica- 35 miles

Canton- 41 miles

Cumming- 39 miles

Gainesville- 50 miles (debatable)

McDonough-32 Miles (debatable)

-IMO, an exurb is between 35 and 50 miles from a city

That could also be a sattellite city, which isn't truly defined. But would describe a large town with it's own influence - such as Carrollton or maybe Gainesville. But with Gainesville, it does have it's own MSA, though it is part of the CSA.

McDonough is definitely an exurb by the way.

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