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Black and White

"SPRAWL A Compact History" by Robert Bruegmann

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It is possibly not what you think it is but it is important.

Will this book signal the death of modern urban "smart growth" "anti-sprawl, anti-suburb" planning?

Let's discuss.

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http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/076903.html

Here is a short history of the sub and ex urbs.

This is interesting because it charts the growth of suburbs that occured even before the supposed "white flight". I am just alittle way into the book and he is already describing the back-to-the-city "white flight" that is gentrifying East Nashville and causing the desinity to decrease there.

http://www.kunstler.com/Mags_Bruegmann.html

Here is Kunstsler's take on the book. You know if he hates it it must be true.

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Here is a good review of the book.

www.robertbruegmann.com/_images/reviews/SlateRybczynski.pdf

And a passage from the review:

What this iconoclastic little book demonstrates is that sprawl is not the anomalous result

of American zoning laws, or mortgage interest tax deduction, or cheap gas, or subsidized

highway construction, or cultural antipathy toward cities. Nor is it an aberration.

Bruegmann shows that asking whether sprawl is "good" or "bad" is the wrong question.

Sprawl is and always has been inherent to urbanization. It is driven less by the regulations

of legislators, the actions of developers, and the theories of city planners, than by the

decisions of millions of individuals-Adam Smith's "invisible hand." This makes altering

it very complicated, indeed. There are scores of books offering "solutions" to sprawl.

Their authors would do well to read this book. To find solutions-or, rather, better ways

to manage sprawl, which is not the same thing-it helps to get the problem right.

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I read the excerpt from the book that was posted and it definitely seems like something I'd like to read. Actually I think I might try and pick it up this weekend. The author brings up a lot of great points, all of which I'd have to agree with.

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This is a great and really quite simple book. I'm about half way throught it now and the points he makes refute just about every reason I have ever heard modern urbans planners make for the creation of the suburbs and explaination for why they must die.

A couple of the main points are:

Suburbs and Exurbs have always existed. Suburbia is not just because white Americans are selfish and racist.

Suburbs will always exist. Even without city services, suburbs are created by those wishing to flee the crowed cities and take advantage of cheap land.

Interesting fact:

The "back to the city" movements occur once the cities have decanted, the exurbs have become too far away to commute or the suburbs have come too close to the exurbs and the first ring suburbs have been gentrified. Then the wealthly move back to the city and other first ring suburbs. We see this happening with the Signature (not a cheap place to live) and the tear-downs in Green Hills.

The gentry neighboorhoods and the city are less dense after the upper middle class moves back in. I think downtown and East Nashville are good examples of this fact. Isn't it interesting that we don't see any middleclass housing being constructed in downtown Nashville?

Suburbs are becoming more dense over time equaling densities among the suburbs and cities.

LA is more dense that NYC. Love that one.

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