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Suburban Dreams Move to the City

By adamba in Culture
Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 09:12:59 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

For the last half-century, the dream of the suburbs has been a powerful lure for American families. The city might be a place to work or partake in cultural activities, but the suburbs were the place to live. They had everything the city did not: clean air, lots of room, leisurely pace, a sense of community. A great place to raise a family.

How is that dream holding up?

The suburbs were promoted as an escape from the clogged traffic in the cities. Cars would motor calmly down wide streets and uncrowded highways. Unfortunately, avoiding congestion is enough of a lure that any suburb that brags about lack of traffic will soon find itself with lots of it. Worse, suburban development tends to be scattered in low densities across wide areas. Homeowners demand that residential areas be completely free of any commercial development, even a corner store or small restaurant. This makes it difficult for suburban residents to get anywhere without driving. Unlike in a city, public transit cannot possibly connect all the disparate suburban centers.

In addition, those missing stores and restaurants turn out to be major building blocks of communities in cities. Suburbs have none of the vitality of the city core: shopping is done over a large area, in stores that serve a large area. This makes a chance meeting with a neighbor at the store extremely unlikely. With all travel confined to cars, there will also be no interaction with a neighbor while traveling to and from shopping, beyond a hurried wave as your cars pass: no encounter on the sidewalk or shared ride on the bus. Wide streets and vast parking lots combine to create public areas that are unfriendly to pedestrians; progressive suburbs are now trying to artificially recreate the bustling sidewalks that occur naturally in a city.

The suburbs promised safety, away from the crime of the city. Yet, a single family home moored on a half acre of land, surrounded by foliage, is a tempting target for burglars or worse. Good fences make good neighbors, the saying goes, but they also make it a lot easier for someone to lurk in your backyard. If your neighbors don't know who is supposed to be there, they are unlikely to sound the alarm in any case.

What about the wide open spaces in the suburbs? Do parents these days want their kids exploring in the woods or fishing in the local creek? Ask a modern parent for their ideal park and it would be a small space, surrounded by a fence, with a single entrance. This would allow the parents to station themselves in one spot, keep an eye on their kids while they were playing, and ensure that they could not wander away. In other words, a city park.

Parents also want their kids to be able to run down the street without worrying about being hit by a car. But with the increase in car travel in the suburbs, every driveway they pass becomes a chance that someone will back out of their garage. A city block, with no driveways because all the cars park on the street, has no such dangers to cross. In fact running down the street is a rarity in the suburbs; with no chance that children will discover playmates who live in the same apartment building, most opportunities for play have to be carefully planned, and naturally involve another trip in the car.

Schools were also supposed to be better in the suburbs. But although public schools may be better, that's not what today's suburban parent cares about. They want a private school for little Tyler and Madison, and private schools tend to be located in the city, where they can serve the widest audience.

Even the alleged "white flight," in which white urban residents move to the suburbs to escape the increasing minority population in cities, has boomeranged back. People now want to expose their children to more diverse cultures. Although one can question the notion of treating minorities as merely enrichment opportunities for white children, the fact remains that the multicultural cities are viewed by many as superior to the homogeneity of the suburbs.

The pieces of the suburban dream may still exist - but in a city.


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Suburban Dreams Move to the City | 125 comments (109 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
Public Transport (4.83 / 6) (#6)
by Talez on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 09:48:47 PM EST

Yes it can connect all the suburbs in the urban area so long as the urban area is planned properly.

The city I live in, Perth, Western Australia, for example has what I believe to be the best public transport system in the world. A good 70% of people live in the coastal corridor which is serviced by a train line that runs a good 20 miles north of the city. At the end of the train line and along the lines are bus interchanges which run like little roots from a stalk and touch all the suburbs within the northern corridor.

The southern corridor runs almost 60 miles south to Mandurah and is serviced by a rather large selection of buses. You can catch a bus to almost anywhere in the city and it will get you there in under an hour. For large suburban centers there are high frequency buses that run the Fremantle-Rockingham and Perth-Booragoon routes every 15 minutes. Not to mention the circleroute which does a lap of the inner part of the city and arrive at the stops every 15 minutes.

For people that live up in the hills there are buses, Midland people have trains and Armadale have a train line as well. If your area isn't serviced by trains very well you can be damn sure theres a bus interconnection to where you want to go.

In short, the city was made for public transport by using a train as a trunk and smaller bus routes to services outer suburban centers. This works quite well and its a very efficient way to travel. Don't discount public transport in suburban areas just yet ;).

Good article by the way.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est

Public Transport (4.00 / 2) (#11)
by John Thompson on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 10:03:30 PM EST

Talez wrote:

[Public Transport] can connect all the suburbs in the urban area so long as the urban area is planned properly.

Aye, there's the rub: "so long as the urban area is planned properly." Too many urban areas and their suburbs seem not to be planning for public transportation at all, at least in the USA.

[ Parent ]
Here's a good example (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by Talez on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 10:09:39 PM EST

Over here the government sometimes doesn't talk with other departments because of oversights, mismanangements, etc.

Right now we're trying to fix a rather expensive mistake.

Traditionally the Joondalup train line has run down the Mitchell Freeway and has used connecting bus services to service shopping centers and local residents. Since there was no freeway that ran to Joondalup the people designing the train lines decided to run the train line direct from edgewater up to the Joondalup shopping center. The end result of this is that the train line actually crosses the freeway TWICE which is going to require sinking the train line under the freeway.

Not only that but some bright spark forgot to leave room for the freeway at the Currambine Station. Now they have to build an exact replica of the train station but its exactly 150 yards east of the current train station. All to the tune of something like 7 million bucks.

Just goes to show how much forward planning is required to make sure the public transport fits in with the rest of the city.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est
[ Parent ]

How long will all this take? (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by thebrix on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 05:19:14 AM EST

My worry would be that it took N years to fix this blunder and there was general chaos in the interim.

A big problem with public transport is that it's always catching up (population shifts and the infrastructure comes later);

There has been a rather spectacular surprise here; the population of London had been dropping for fifty years then increased by 3/4 million over the past ten years (when it was 'supposed' to continue dropping) and is forecast to rise by another 3/4 million by 2015. So, in twenty-five years, it will have taken on extra people equivalent to four times the population of Edinburgh.

The result is that various schemes which have been pipe dreams for years and, in one case, over 100 years (Thameslink 2000, Crossrail, Wimbledon-Hackney) are now being cobbled together to get these extra people to work. But they'll all be "ready by 2006" or some such time, whence about 300,000 more people will have packed in ...

[ Parent ]

"The suburbs" are much more complex than (4.85 / 7) (#7)
by jbuck on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 09:54:39 PM EST

Consider suburban Prince Georges' County, Maryland, which is more than half black. Or how about Richmond, British Columbia (a suburb of Vancouver), which is majority Chinese. Or Fremont, California, with its very large Indian (people from India, that is), Afgan, and Asian communities. Did you think that only whites are attracted to suburbs?

The largest city in Northern California is San Jose, not San Francisco, but it is essentially a suburb on steroids. But many of the smaller "cities" of Silicon Valley have vital, lively downtowns, highly walkable areas where it is common to bumb into neighbors or colleagues you know. Meanwhile, more traditional cities are being assaulted by the chains; San Francisco's Marina district has the exact same chains that can be found in the 'burbs. And the more enlightened suburbs are building, or encouraging, central areas where people can walk, shop, have music festivals, and meet each other in something other than a mall. Tualatin, Oregon now has an area of this type, "Tualatin Commons" on a piece of land that was once a dog food plant. It's the whitest of any of the places I mention in this comment, but it's a highly livable place.

Some of these projects are successful and some fail; it seems that success is associated with a vaguely Taoist approach that tries to set up conditions and let things flow as opposed to an attempt to micromanage everything. San Jose has poured over a billion dollars into revitalizing downtown but has fought a war against the entertainment district, because the powers that be are scared by the kids with piercings that frequent the few clubs that survive on south 1st street. Meanwhile Mountain View has a much more interesting downtown than far larger San Jose, and it was done in an area that had basically collapsed twenty years ago.

Yes, there are plenty of boring homogeneous housing developments in the suburbs, but "suburb vs city" is so massively more complex than your simple-minded article would suggest. Suburbs can be exciting and cities can be boring, or vice versa.

Tualatin Commons (none / 0) (#12)
by rayab on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 10:05:09 PM EST

Strangley enough I work just a few blocks from there. It is a pretty cool place. Lotsa great food and you gotta love the little lake. I wonder how the residents like all the noise tho.

Y popa bila sobaka on yeyo lyubil, ona syela kusok myasa on yeyo ubil, v zemlyu zakopal, i na mogile napisal...
[ Parent ]
that's sort of a disgusting sig <nt> (none / 0) (#55)
by CodeWright on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 02:17:52 PM EST

"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Black Humor (none / 0) (#73)
by rayab on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 08:11:16 PM EST

Well growing up in Russia I was exposed to several black humor rhimes and never thought them to be disgusting. But it'd be impossible to explain them to someone who has not grown up in Russia. For example: Kostachi v kuchku zvezdochki vryad. Po zeleznoi daroge prashol otryad oktibryat.

Y popa bila sobaka on yeyo lyubil, ona syela kusok myasa on yeyo ubil, v zemlyu zakopal, i na mogile napisal...
[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 0) (#98)
by CodeWright on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 09:50:24 AM EST

Russian chornye gumor is quite funny. Although I didn't grow up in the CCCP, I had the privilege of living there for a bit more than a year just after the fall...

...and that rhyme was not impossible to explain at all. My appellation of disgusting was meant as a compliment. :)

"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Well in that case ... (none / 0) (#102)
by rayab on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 11:30:47 AM EST

... thank you :)

Y popa bila sobaka on yeyo lyubil, ona syela kusok myasa on yeyo ubil, v zemlyu zakopal, i na mogile napisal...
[ Parent ]
I agree with your comments on San Jose (none / 0) (#30)
by khallow on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:47:25 AM EST

The city is terrible. I've heard talk on how to improve things. Eg, prettify the nonexistent skyline (San Jose airport restricts the heights of buildings). I couldn't find anything there without a phone book. I recall driving around looking for a shoe shop. I found several medical supply stores (I had just read a story on a medical care scandal, so I was sensitized to their presence) before that shoe store showed up. What a pain!

The sprawl is terrible for several reasons. The big one for me was the monotony. It was completely boring. I did my time there in a small apartment and got out of town when the money stopped coming (laid off). Currently, I'm living in rural southern Washington. Renting a bigger place for a small fraction of that one bed apartment. Nice small town too.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Do we live in the same valley? (none / 0) (#119)
by rtechie on Fri Jul 26, 2002 at 04:41:14 AM EST

I'm a lifelong resident of Silicon Valley, and I'm afraid I disagree with you.

Over time, SV has turned into LA. Nobody EVER walks. For the most part, people live in housing developments/tract homes that are a mile away from anything, even a 7-11. Walking simply isn't an option, especially in Milpitas/Fremont.

Yes, to some extent Mountain View and Sunnyvale have "lively" downtowns if you consider Asian resturants and yuppie bars "lively". Not a nightclub to be found in either CITY. In fact, both have ordinances against building them. And nobody is ever just "walking around" because they had to drive to get there.

Meanwhile, as you correctly point out, San Jose is busy killing off it's few remaining nightclubs (I'm unsure if it's illegal to build new ones, like it is in Mountian View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, etc.)

The reality is that Silicon Valley is workaholic and boring. They practically roll up the sidewalks at 9pm.

[ Parent ]

the best of both worlds (3.75 / 4) (#9)
by tornadron on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 10:00:08 PM EST

I'm no expert in Urban Planning...but I have read and have also hadd conversations on the subject with people more knowledgeable off the subject than I... its interesting to note in my city anyway (toronto)...that certain aspects of the suburbs (e.g. 24 hour supermarkets, big block warehouse stores) are popping up in "the city"--maybe not right in the "core" but definitely not out in the burbs either... while some of the more interesting suburban developments are trying to make their communities more city like--keeping the garage and the home separate so that the front of the house lots are closer together to encourage more interaction that sort of thing...

Actually (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by MKalus on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 10:46:19 PM EST

I am living right downtown Toronto and I have a 24 hour Dominion 10 minutes walking distance away from my building.

Reality is I am now working "out of town" in Waterloo but I couldn't convince myself to move into the "small town" or "suburbs".

Actually places like Oakville just give me a rash.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

agreed (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by tornadron on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 10:54:24 PM EST

yeah that's another trend I see...relatively well paid people doing the reverse commute while the less well paid do the commute... ...its sad sometimes...I realize that due to my relative affluence I'm really part of a different economic class than many of my friends...I'll be the one lucky enough to be doing the reverse commute...while more and more of them will be stuck moving out to whitby, ajax, brampton where they can actually affort to eek out a living their city jobs pay them...

[ Parent ]
I had the same observation (none / 0) (#22)
by MKalus on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 11:04:56 PM EST

It is in part really shocking to see how many jobs people have to make months end.

I looked at places like Brampton, Whitby etc. but it's just not a place where I could be.

Waterloo is a bit different compared to those cities but I guess I am not cut out for small towns either.

Too bad my company doesn't have a Toronto Office :|

-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Reverse commuting (none / 0) (#46)
by hatshepsut on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 12:48:40 PM EST

Our "Toronto Office" is in Markham, letting me live in downtown TO and reverse commute north of the city.

I love it! On weekends, no car usage at all, and during the week, I don't have to sit for an hour (or more) in heavy traffic, breathing tailpipe fumes.

The only downside I have found to living in an interesting, friendly neighbourhood in the downtown core of a big city is that every time there is a major event of some description (right now it is World Youth Day, but the Santa Claus Parade, Gay Pride Parade, Take Back the Night March, etc. etc. all do the same) my neighbourhood, and the other neighbourhoods for miles around get packed full of illegally parked cars and hordes of people who come in from the 'burbs to see the events. Then it isn't the interesting, close-to-everything but essentially quiet neighbourhood that I love.

[ Parent ]

I hear ya! (none / 0) (#60)
by MKalus on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 03:31:59 PM EST

WYD right now is really getting on my nerves a bit, you can't make a step without stepping on someone who  came to town because of that, I tend to run along the waterfront but right now forget it, there are so many people that running is not an option.

Oh well, I guess a week and we have our peace back.

What part of town are you living in? Drop me a line if you get a chance.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Toronto, best of breed (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by vastor on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 07:35:25 PM EST

I've a friend that works for urban planning here in Newcastle (Australia) and he is a huge fan of Toronot (Canada). Mainly about their public transport system, but generally their urban density planning and the like (building up densities along transport corridors, having a good rail system with bus interlinking to it).

When I had to give a lesson on urban clustering and public transport I even used some newspaper articles from Toronto about people moving back to the city so they can walk to work etc (gentrification does a lot of this in many cities and so does infill, but apparently Toronto is the best example in the english speaking world of doing it well).

[ Parent ]

The dream lives on (2.00 / 2) (#16)
by quartz on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 10:44:14 PM EST

Hm... No commercial development, easy to find a parking spot, no human interaction, lots of wide open spaces... Sounds like the perfect place for me. The stuff about kids does not apply since I'm not a Breeder.

As far as I'm concerned, the suburban dream lives on. I don't really see any reason to move back to the city.

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.

Suburbia (4.27 / 11) (#20)
by kwsNI on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 11:01:13 PM EST

Where they bulldoze all the trees and then name the streets after them.

there are reasons for that (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by squinky on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 10:22:06 AM EST

they aren't good ones though.

By bulldozing the building site, nobody has to think about incorporating the trees into the design-- you start with a clean slate. (After doing that though, you'd think that somebody would consider the orientation of the house though-- southern exposure/northern installation-- but they don't seem to).

Plus, you get to sell all that topsoil (usually back to the person who just moved into a house surrounded by rock-hard subsoil).

I think it's a horrible practice. It combines two of the most compelling human dives though (greed and laziness) so it is unlikely that it will stop.

[ Parent ]

Bah (none / 0) (#69)
by ucblockhead on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 07:09:02 PM EST

That is not always true. Here is a picture of the suburb I live in.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
are you sure that's a recent picture? (none / 0) (#86)
by adamba on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 12:20:09 AM EST

Here is a newer one I found.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Um... (none / 0) (#89)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 12:46:39 AM EST

Weren't you the one saying that they don't build houses by 7-elevens?
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
you said there were 7-Elevens... (none / 0) (#91)
by adamba on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 01:17:04 AM EST

I don't see too many houses their either. It looks pretty rural.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Looks (none / 0) (#103)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 11:52:42 AM EST

Yeah, it looks pretty rural. That's one reason why people like suburbs. That picture is looking out over northern Walnut Creek (pop. 70,000) towards Concord (pop. 100,000). Downtown Walnut Creek is obscured by the bush on the right. The road you see in the distance is the 680.

There are tons of houses there. You just can't see them because the trees are in the way. (Which is why I posted the picture, to show that "suburb" does not mean "no trees".)

That picture was taken about a mile from my house, about a half mile from the local supermarket. We got there by walking along part of the large network of walking/biking trails that run near my house.

Here's a map of where the picture was taken.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Book Tip (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by MKalus on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 11:02:34 PM EST

"Suburban Nation: the rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream"

by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck.

The book gives a very interresting insight into why and how Suburbs are designed.

I was never a fan of Suburbs and I could never understand how people can choose to live there, but while reading this book I started to get pissed to a degree I can't really describe. Why? Because the book makes it clear that the principal behind the design is the idea to "store people".

The book gives hope though, as pointed out by other, suburbs are realizing that they still need a centre outside of a shopping mall.

The ISBN of the book is: 0-86547-606-3

Costs 18 Bucks US or 29 CAN

It's worth the read.
-- Michael

Both words changed in meaning. (4.50 / 4) (#24)
by Apuleius on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 11:53:49 PM EST

The first suburbs had no rhyme or reason. In the post-war era, a lot of people moved to the burbs simply because that was where houses were being built. The construction was so hasty, that (I kid you not! I live in one of these right now) some houses were built by pouring a concrete slab and assembling a house out of sheet metal paneling.

Then in the 60's, America's cities became hellholes. Right wingers say it was because the Great Society program caused the collapse of the family. Far-Left wingers say it was because the Proletariat was standing up to the bourgeoisie. The truth is that the collapse of urban light industry in the US had more to do with it than anything. So people moved to the burbs for a different reason.

Now the cities are much better, and some suburbs are becoming hellholes.

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
I sort of disagree (none / 0) (#41)
by xtremex on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 11:04:40 AM EST

I live in Long Island, NY which for decades was known as where the filthy rich live who WORK in nYC. (Think of the book, The Gold Coast, thats Long Island).However, that was 20 years ago. Sure, there are definitely enclaves of rich communities, and the cheapest house you can buy here is around $250,000, but it has become SOOO crowded, and there is WAY too much gov't housing. Highways are crowded, traffic is insane, and the schools are getting worse.(One school, Roosevelt High has been CLOSED due to the crime and the grades, and now they bus kids to neighboring schools) In The NY tri-stare area, the "rich" from Long Island are now moving TO Manhattan (Upper East side). It's been a complete reversal. Where a young couple can get a 1 bedroom apt for around $1,000 on Long Island, it costs $2,500 a month for a 1 Room loft in manhattan. I used to think it was silly. WHY move to manhattan, when you can have a place 3 times the size for half the price? I understand why now. Because it has become cheaper to live in the 'burbs, the people who still want their exclusive place must move to manhattan to get it. The Hamptons was a a Summer Resort for the wealthy, but it makes no sense to LIVE there as it's at a minimum an hour from any sort of life. And 2 hours from NYC proper. At least in Western Long Island, you were never too far from the Big Apple.

[ Parent ]
Your numbers are off (1.50 / 2) (#84)
by TheSleeper on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 11:16:53 PM EST

Where a young couple can get a 1 bedroom apt for around $1,000 on Long Island, it costs $2,500 a month for a 1 Room loft in manhattan.

No. I was shopping for places in Manhattan back in March, and the prices I was seeing for 1-room studios were about half what you mention. As it was, I ended up in Brooklyn, where I pay $1500 for a small 1 bedroom with a good-sized terrace.

[ Parent ]
Suburbs? How about rural? (4.00 / 3) (#25)
by tzanger on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 11:58:51 PM EST

I live in Listowel, Ontario which is a town of about 5300. I'm in town right now but my dream is to move to the Ottawa Valley. If I have my way, right here. (Hwy 17 just outside of Cobden, ON.) My family owns about 500 acres of land around there and I'd like a small chunk to raise my family.

I don't need to be in a city, or really even near one. I do need access to one and Renfrew, Pembroke and Ottawa are all relatively close.

It's strange -- when I was growing up in Kitchener (265k people) and my mom moved to Listowel (5k people) I fought it every step of the way. I've been here for about 10 years now and the slower, smaller, friendlier aspect of small-town living really grows on you. Busing the kids to school isn't a big deal. There's lots family up there, and there's beautiful, beautiful scenery.

There's also a Bell fiber run going across that road. ;-)

Another Ontarian (none / 0) (#36)
by nchannen on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 10:12:21 AM EST

I grew up in Elmira (pop. 7000 in 1993), then moved to Waterloo, then Brampton (over 200k), before buying a house in Milton (34k).

What I've found is that yards in the suburbs have gotten MUCH smaller... back in Elmira, my parents house had quite a large back yard, even though it wasn't rural. Now, I've got enough space for a garden and a deck. There isn't even any grass back there.

Some year, I'd like to get 100 acres or so out "in the woods", and live in a trailer or small cottage there. I really hate the "big city".

Oddly, a co-worker grew up in Haliburton (pop. 1800), and he much prefers the city. I'd switch any day!
Parents of young organic lifeforms are warned that towels can be harmfull if swallowed in large quantities. [HHGttG]
[ Parent ]

Great area (none / 0) (#44)
by czth on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 12:30:34 PM EST

I've lived in Waterloo for a few years (did my BMath at UW), and been to Listowel several times, have a few friends there (I dunno if it's a small enough town that you would know the Kraayenbrinks or the Webers [I think Weber might be a common name there, though?] or the Wiebes?). I also like the small towns surrounding Waterloo, like Elmira and Arthur and St. Jacobs (except St. J's getting way too touristy). It's a beautiful area, I hope it doesn't get taken over by suburbs. I'm from the Niagara area, about 1 3/4 hours away, which is also a good area to live in, with some small towns and farms and rural communities on the fringes. I think the abundance of Mennonite farms holding to the traditional way of living (backwards as some consider it) in the Waterloo outlying areas will ensure it continues to hold out well against the depredations of the city.

I'm now in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, though, living in an apartment. It's a nice area. 25 minute drive to work in midtown Memphis, not too bad, Memphis is pretty spread out anyway, so the contrast is "city with trees" and "city with more trees" not "urban" and "rural." I do a lot of travelling on weekends, too. Been here about five months, previously worked in Niagara Falls (thankfully well away from the tourist areas), and Toronto for a year or so (where you really can't avoid the tourists but you can ignore them).

I've also lived in Ottawa briefly (as in one co-op term) and been back to visit friends I made in that time. I was out in Gloucester (east end, oppose Kanata in the west), took the bus in to the NRC (National Research Centre) which was right on the fringe of Gloucester and Ottawa.


[ Parent ]

Uh? (5.00 / 2) (#28)
by khallow on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:38:06 AM EST

My impression is that "white flight" is still happening in the traditional directions (at least in the US) except now they're fleeing the suburbs as well. Ie, I'm seeing a lot of people who want their children in more or less rural environments. The diverse, urban environments are seen as too dangerous, and the educational system as too terrible to risk putting your children there. Bottom line, I see nothing of what you are talking about. That doesn't mean it isn't happening, just that in my niche, things aren't following the Plan. Perhaps, it is an age thing. I'm 32 (and could be "white" you know), and most of my relatives and friends who make moving decisions are at least as old.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Maybe this is a peculiarly US premise (4.57 / 7) (#31)
by loaf on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 05:11:24 AM EST

But here in the UK, the opposite is true. The majority will only stay in the city until they can afford to leave, then they will only go to the suburbs if they can't afford the rural life.

Of course, the rural life is generally too expensive for those born there, so they must leave for the city - keeping the cyclic flow alive and turning the rural parts of this country into a theme park.

I'm just the same, only yesterday I was looking at the details for a house in the sticks - swapping the one bedroomed London flat for a huge pile out of town. Who wouldn't if they could? The city's no place to live your whole life or raise a family, so you stick around for only so long as you have the time and inclincation to enjoy it - and leave when you stop.

Big assumptions! (none / 0) (#38)
by thebrix on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 10:37:26 AM EST

As someone who enjoys poor health (to use that strange phrase) and doesn't drive I don't agree with what you say.

Although living in the countryside has obvious virtues there are also big problems; poor transport and patchy medical services are not encouraging in my case.

[ Parent ]

Untrue. (4.50 / 2) (#39)
by Tezcatlipoca on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 10:47:59 AM EST

If people were trying to get out of cities and into the countryside or  suburbia then property prices would be skyrocketing in the leafy places while downtown London would be dirt cheap. Which is patently not happening.

People want to live in big town because it is there were oportunity, openess and eligthment lies.

Do you want classical music (a serious classical music scene I mean), or theatre (proper theatre, with different offerings, not just a yearly "panto"), or do you pehaps wnat to watch proper football (not a 5th category team that happens to play where you live). The answer of where all this and more is available is evident.

I would buy in London in a second if property prices were sane, but I payed as much for a 3 bedroom house with huge garden in suburbia as I would have paid for a filthy, small, two bedroom appartment in London.

The people leaving London do so not because they don't want to stay there (property prices clearly say people are dying to stay) but because they can't afford it.

I would rather expose my children to the richness of life in a big town than to the stupor of most suburbian places where conformity in all aspects tends to be the norm.
"Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

[ Parent ]

Filthy? (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by thebrix on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 02:33:24 PM EST

Repainting doesn't cost much and is good fun :P

The problem is with the coming of children. A one-bedroom flat (with garden in my case) is fine if you live by yourself or a partner; if you plan to have two children, in the end you'll need a three-bedroom flat or house and have to pay for the children as well. Unless there are two people working and remaining fortunate (no serious illness, redundancy or other difficulties with life) this payment, given the price of housing in London, is going to be hard to keep up over an extended period even if it can be made in the first place: the average salary in London is not 2 or 3 times the national average, despite the impression media give.

Hence people tend to move out of London in this situation, and rationalise their decision with 'London's not a place to bring up kids' or similar. (If I had 1 for every time someone made that or a similar remark to me I'd be making an offer for Clarence House ;)

On rationalisations, another is that 'yes, there are all these art galleries and concert halls and things, but do you ever go to them?'. My answer is 'well, I do'.

The above is a rather brutal economic argument, but it holds in my experience.

As per the last sentence, as someone who was brought up in a mining village where everyone knew everyone else's business - whether they had any business knowing anyone's business or not - and all individuality was crushed by public opinion I agree 100 per cent with you; social capital has many dark sides.

[ Parent ]

Painting! (none / 0) (#68)
by Tezcatlipoca on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 07:02:25 PM EST

I wish it would have been only painting: carpets, plumbing, and the damn place was in a 8th floor, no lift....
"Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

[ Parent ]
Chicago (5.00 / 5) (#34)
by j1mmy on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 09:48:48 AM EST

I've lived near and in Chicago for almost 5 years now. The suburban sprawl here is ridiculous. You have to drive 20-30 miles in any direction before you see anything resembling farm land or otherwise open spaces.

I'm currently doing the apartment thing in the city, and it suits me fine for now. The only attraction the suburbs have would be a larger place to live. Unfortunately, my two reasons for having a larger place are so I actually have a workshop of some sort (power tools = lots of noise) and a place to rock out on my drumset (acoustic drumset = lots of noise). I'm sure my neighbors would be more understanding of the first, but the second wouldn't really fly in most neighborhoods. It certainly doesn't fly in my apartment complex.

I think my only real option is to buy a largish chunk of undeveloped land in the middle of nowhere and plunk down a house in the middle of it. Ideally, I'd like to get one of those missile silos that the government has been selling off. Then I could start working on my ICBM project again (got as far as the warhead and control systems, not enough room in my apartment to build the delivery vehicle). World domination is only a couple steps away at that point.

Chicagoland (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by ethereal on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 10:22:50 AM EST

The fun thing about Chicagoland is that if you read any of the suburban newspapers, you see a consistent motif repeated over and over:

  • New development is built on the edge of prairie, farmland, or sometimes forest. Often this is a semi-rural area. Development is large houses on large lots, with lots of winding streets.
  • People move to $development. Life is good for them, on the edge of open spaces.
  • As $development grows, traffic in the areas next to $development gets steadily worse, farm/rural roads are overloaded, taxes go up to pay for more roads and schools, etc.
  • A new development is planned for $development. Residents of $original_development are up in arms over the increase in traffic, loss of their nice view, etc.
As far as I can tell, out here no one has the empathy to realize that just as their sprawl has hurt their old neighbors, their new neighbors sprawl will hurt them. Thus the cycle continues, in a "wave" of new construction spreading out from Chicago like a ripple in a pond, engulfing any communities it comes across. Meanwhile, some great older buildings in existing downtown areas go vacant and fall into disrepair, as yuppification continues. There is very little regional land-use planning because developers have so much money and because all the little towns love to soak up developments because they think it will increase their tax base (which it will, eventually). Some of the counties surrounding Cook County have land use plans that try to preserve open land and agricultural use, but the State and Federal governments continue to propose new freeways and highways which will have the effect of encouraging unplanned and uncombatable growth.

I am entitled to bitch about it because my wife and I bought an existing older home in an established downtown area (in a town which was actually founded long before the suburban housing boom). Thus I am not contributing to sprawl directly, although I admit that I'm one more car on the road. But proposed mass transit running out I-90 would solve that problem for me :)


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

sprawl is getting so bad (none / 0) (#120)
by j1mmy on Fri Jul 26, 2002 at 02:40:38 PM EST

I've been hearing ads on WFMT lately for a new community (Sand Creek, Sand Hill, Sand something ... don't really remember) in the "outskirts" of Chicago. Except it's actually in Indiana. Sprawl is just getting absurd.

There used to be a similar ad for another community west of the city that posed to the listener: "Remember what it's like to see the stars at night?" I seriously doubt those people can see that many stars at night if they're living within 50 miles of the city. I drove out past Rockford to watch the Leonids back in December, and the damn city glow was still noticeable to the east.

I wonder how long it will be before the whole country is just one vast metropolis bathed 24/7 in the unnatural glow of sodium streetlamps? Probably all too soon.

Meanwhile, some great older buildings in existing downtown areas go vacant and fall into disrepair, as yuppification continues.

Have you been downtown Chicago lately? There's tons of new construction. Lots of old buildings are getting major renovations. My friend's apartment is within three blocks of six new buildings under construction and directly next to a parking lot that's going to be developed within the next few years.

I guess you're really talking more about existing suburbs, but the ones I frequent (Evanston, Skokie, Niles) seem to be doing quite well.

But proposed mass transit running out I-90 would solve that problem for me :)

I thought Metra ran out that way, but I could be wrong. I stick to the L and my bike, and really only use my car when i need to transport large/heavy objects or travel long distances.

[ Parent ]

I'm not sure... (none / 0) (#122)
by SympathyInChaos on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 09:29:15 PM EST

Have you been downtown Chicago lately? There's tons of new construction. Lots of old buildings are getting major renovations. My friend's apartment is within three blocks of six new buildings under construction and directly next to a parking lot that's going to be developed within the next few years.

He could mean South Loop, in between Chinatowna nd the Loop. It's full of Industrial Lofts and theres a new developement in the ironically, so called "Sprawl", which is untouched abandoned land ( more of natural Prairieland, yep thisis walking distance from the El. Made famous in the book "Bomb the Suburbs" by William "Upski" Wimsatt) bordering the Chicago river directly south of LaSalle. New developement being code for "yuppiefication".
It's slowly gentryfying and reminds me of Detroit (What with the Urban entropy and everything). But it's definitely a place I would invest in. *sigh* If only I wasn't 17, I would buy a nice, large warehouse. All for myself.

[ Parent ]
just there yesterday (none / 0) (#123)
by j1mmy on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 08:00:44 PM EST

visited the museum of holography. almost 20 minutes worth of entertainment.

but yea, all those warehouses are getting converted or replaced. There's some very, very nice condos going up in that area. And the locals already fit the yuppie bill for me, as I almost got in an accident as two of these bozos ran a stop sign and nearly me caused a horrible mess. bah.

[ Parent ]

The devaluation of suburbia. (4.00 / 4) (#35)
by evilpenguin on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 10:09:26 AM EST

I grew up, and currently reside in, Staten Island -- the "fifth borough of New York City".  It was a great atmosphere, and I actually got to know my neighbors, and other such things that made me feel like there was actual community.  There was open lots and parks to play in, the streets were seldom-traveled wide-open stretches of pavement, and you could actually let your kids stay out late at night without worrying about them being shot by some crack head or something.  Everything was just peachy keen.

Then the condos, er, "townhouses", er, chicken coops (as my father calls them) started popping up.  The first one went up in an empty lot right next door to me.  I didn't realize it then, but that was the beginning of the end for my block, and a foreshadow of things to come.  Somehow, in a lot where there was once only one house, there was now twelve.  With that type of ratio, they must be quite affordable.

Well, apparently they were -- that is, affordable enough for slum-crawlers to gather a few months' welfare checks and put a down payment on one.  A commendable effort, right?  Seemingly they're trying to better the lives of their kids and themselves by giving them a better life away from the ghettos?  Maybe, but in doing so, and dramatically increasing the population density of a suburban block, they destroy much of the atmosphere of community.  The first time I heard rap "music" being blasted through overdriven speakers right next door to me, even as a kid I felt like the neighborhood had just been shot to shit.

Now all of my friends started moving away.  One by one, they started moving to the few remaining places without "townhouses".  But those neighborhoods were expensive, and my parents couldn't afford it.  So I grew up around this human filth, and the only thing the "diversity" has given me is an extreme animosity towards any new "townhouse" being developed.

In the last year alone, my old neighborhood saw four new developments.  All places where there used to be houses and the owners got fed up with the devaluation brought about by the other townhouse developments (can you say, "chain reaction").   Not being able to find any actual people to move into the old houses, they were sold to developers.  Where there used to be one house, there is now up to sixteen.  The streets are now crowded, there were no more open lots or parks to play in, and no one in their right mind would let their kids stay out late.  It's a shame, but it's happening all over the borough (and from what some of my friends in other states tell me, all over the country).  The lucky ones move somewhere else, but there's only so many places to move.
# nohup cat /dev/dsp > /dev/hda & killall -9 getty

Do you live under a bridge in a fairy tale? (1.66 / 3) (#42)
by nutate on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 11:06:51 AM EST

I can understand your father perhaps being unhappy that his dream of apartheid in NYC's forgotten borough has flashed out, but why must you try to carry it on. Times change. Adapt.

Seemingly they're trying to better the lives of their kids and themselves by giving them a better life away from the ghettos? Maybe, but in doing so, and dramatically increasing the population density of a suburban block, they destroy much of the atmosphere of community.
Aren't 'they' just creating a bigger and better community? Oh wait, you don't interact with 'them', I forgot. I bet you have all sorts of words for 'them' that you won't share with us here online. That's fine with me, but you're at best a classist and at worst a racist and a classist. You deserve a better life. One without your phobia driven hatred.

peace or something like it.

[ Parent ]

You are obviously an Evil Racist (none / 0) (#58)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 02:48:31 PM EST

How dare you want safe streets!

How dare you object to ghetto music!

The while people who used to be there sold coke on the front porch too!

[ Parent ]

Unfortunately (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by MicroBerto on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 08:46:12 PM EST

This is sad but true. I have seen it happen -- it happened to me.

Just wait until the school system starts to take a shit. That's when my parents got out, and it was the best decision they ever made. God I can't even begin to tell you how much one move - 3 miles away - can make such a drastic difference.

My recommendation is to sell your house while somebody wants to buy it. Our old neighbors in the old hood who tried to sell their houses a couple years after us had a hell of a time getting any offers at all, and sold for much less than us.

I hate to sound like such a prick... but again, i'll repeat, what you say is sad but true.

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

All that speculation (2.50 / 4) (#43)
by Rogerborg on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 11:08:52 AM EST

And not a single reference to back it up. Not one. How pointless.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

Sprawl Hurts Us All (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by delfstrom on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 12:47:14 PM EST

Now that you're aware of the issues, you can do something about it. Visit the Sierra Club's sprawl campaign website.

Since a number of the replies below have come from people in Ontario, you should check out the local campaign the Sierra Club is running there. Go to http://eastern.sierraclub.ca/ to see what's happening.

Yeah that's the solution (none / 0) (#97)
by tzanger on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 09:46:13 AM EST

The hell to those of us who want an acre or ten for ourselves and not be in the middle of some godforsaken city; we should all pack ourselves into apartments, condos or townhouses and live like gerbils!

[ Parent ]
fine with me (none / 0) (#100)
by ethereal on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 10:38:05 AM EST

As long as you pay to run roads, power lines, and telecommunications out to your distant compound :) Not to mention providing for police and fire protection (response time increases the farther out you move, of course), hospitals, libraries, etc.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

I never said I wanted the infrastructure. (none / 0) (#111)
by tzanger on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 02:27:29 PM EST

As long as you pay to run roads, power lines, and telecommunications out to your distant compound :)

Power, (dirt) roads and telecom are pretty much everywhere these days. I'm not asking for much.

As far as police/hospital - yes, response time increases. But the need for them seems to decrease as well. Basic First Aid and a cool head can do wonders.

I never asked for the libraries, stores, theatres and so on to come to me; if I wanted them nearby I'd live in the suburbs. :-)

[ Parent ]
finally figured it out (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by tps12 on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:04:02 PM EST

Every time I've seen this article, I've wanted to vote it down or argue with it or something. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it finally came to me. The title, "Suburban Dreams Move to the City," is utter nonsense. WOGGE is a suburban dream? Since when do dreams move anywhere, city or not? It's at least a mixed metaphor, and the two component metaphors are pretty terrible. If only I'd noticed this in time.

Do you have any idea what you're talking about? (4.00 / 3) (#48)
by thomp on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:07:08 PM EST

There's so much bullshit here I don't even know where to start. I live in a suburb in a subdivision built completely by one developer among many other subdivisions. My kids play every day with other kids from the neighborhood. We walk to the local shopping center (groceries, videos, restaurants, drugstore, etc.) on wide streets with little traffic. My kids walk to school. We have hiking/mountain biking trails practically across the street. The kids argue about which one of the several parks/playgrounds they should play at. We have a big yard for the kids and the dog. We grill out with the neighbors constantly. My wife put less than 5K miles on our minivan last year. Our neighborhood is a diverse mix of whites, blacks, Asians, Indians, Muslims, gay couples. Oh, yeah. And the most important thing we have: no crime.

So, don't go spewing all your garbage about stale suburbs and how much better the living in the city is. I was raised in the city, and I'll never go back. The city is a nice place to visit.


Where are you? (none / 0) (#50)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:12:53 PM EST

Sounds like a nice place to live.

[ Parent ]
God's country ... (none / 0) (#52)
by thomp on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:46:12 PM EST

Madison, Wisconsin.

Not a huge metropolis (~200k pop), but very much a city dealing with sprawl. The subdivision I live in now is not much different than the suburbs where I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As an aside, I do think a lot of older suburbs were not planned very well; but a lot of the newer subdivisions (like mine) were laid out to be more than just bedroom communities.


[ Parent ]
The suburbs in Mpls (none / 0) (#64)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 04:41:45 PM EST

feature many windy streets with names like Meadowbrook and Happy Flower Lane and God knows what else. I drive everywhere I go as it is but I imagine if you lived in the back of one of those tangled suburbs you really would have no choice. It'd be probably a 5 mile minimum to the nearest shopping plaza. Madison though... can't live there. It doesn't have as good a job market.

[ Parent ]
Been there. (none / 0) (#96)
by thomp on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 09:19:49 AM EST

Yeah, Burnsville/Apple Valley/Eagan/etc. are a labyrinth of poorly planned communities. You can get lost in there and never find your way out. You know the main road is to the south so you head south on a street only to have it snake all the way around to some other direction. Damn confusing. A lot of the first tier suburbs - St. Louis Park and Richfield, for example, are laid out more like a grid. Very nice.


[ Parent ]
about as much as you do, I think (none / 0) (#53)
by adamba on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:48:01 PM EST

Sounds like we live in very similar situations. In fact from a quick spin around your website, we have the same Exersaucer, laundry basket, and big cushions we use to keep infants from falling over when learning to sit up.

My point was not, "suburbs bad, cities good." My point was that when people set out to design what they thought was an ideal place to live -- the suburbs -- they outsmarted themselves. Looking for a leisurely pace and a sense of community, they intentionally picked designs that go against those. There is often a more leisurely pace and a better sense of community in a city environment.

Now if you go into suburban living expecting it to be like it is -- recognizing that you will be doing a lot of driving kids around, that traffic woes still exist, and that large lots may be worse for crime -- and accepting that because of certain tradeoffs, in particular having a nice lot for the kids to play in, which I conveniently did not mention in my article (although many subdivisions don't have that because land is so expensive) -- then more power to you. You are not who I was writing about.

It sounds like you live in a somewhat unique situation in that you can walk to shopping and school. This is unusual for a subdivision, in fact many of them don't even have sidewalks. As for no crime...must be nice!! Does your high school basketball team win every game also?

- adam

[ Parent ]

Hee hee ... (none / 0) (#59)
by thomp on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 03:05:33 PM EST

See my reply to MrSurly's post. I have lived in some crappy suburbs, i.e., no sidewalks, etc., that were downright scary for children. There's a distinction to be made, though, between those suburbs/subdivisions attempting to foster a sense of community and those suburbs/subdivisions that appear to be nothing more than a quick buck for a greedy developer. You see a lot of subdivisions, especially around Chicago, miles from everything, which makes it more like rural living except with all the houses crammed together on a 40 acre plat.

It sounds like you live in a somewhat unique situation in that you can walk to shopping and school. This is unusual for a subdivision, in fact many of them don't even have sidewalks. As for no crime...must be nice!! Does your high school basketball team win every game also?

All of the kids are good looking and above average. All of the moms are sex goddesses and the grass is always green. Heh. Seriously, though, if you had told me 15 years ago that I would be living in the suburbs and loving it, I would have threatened physical abuse. But, now, I feel damn lucky to have what I consider a little slice of heaven out here on the prairie.


[ Parent ]
heaven? (none / 0) (#63)
by loudici on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 04:41:43 PM EST

if the heaven comes with WI weather i think i have found one more reason to be a sinner....
gnothi seauton
[ Parent ]
Hardly unique (none / 0) (#72)
by ucblockhead on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 07:19:30 PM EST

I live in the depths of suburbia, but we walk to the park, to the movies, to restaurants all the time.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
not *every* suburban house is like this (none / 0) (#80)
by adamba on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 09:22:51 PM EST

Even in lovely Redmond, WA where I live you can find a house that is close to downtown. But it is rare. Most houses are only driving distance away from shops/etc. It's partly a physical limitation: in many developments it is a long walk just to the edge of the subdivision, never mind out to a commercial area. Those single-family lots on cul-de-sacs chew up a lot of room.

It's also partly by design. Placing houses out of walking distance of 7-Elevens, whose parking lots are teeming with criminals, means the bad guys can't walk to youir house. So goes the theory.

Anyway having one counter-example "Well I can walk to the store" doesn't disprove my argument.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Crime (none / 0) (#82)
by ucblockhead on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 10:43:14 PM EST

The crime statistics disprove your arguments concerning crime.

And much of your "argument" is hearsay and prejudice. I've got two 7-Eleven within walking distance of my house...no criminals at either. Where do you get the idea that they teem with criminals? Anyway, pretty much every suburb I've lived in has had a 7-Eleven, or something like it, with walking distace of my house/apt.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

I was presenting the other side's argument (none / 0) (#85)
by adamba on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 11:54:12 PM EST

It's not *=> ME <=* who thinks that 7-Elevens are hotbeds for crime, it's people who (poorly IMHO) design suburbs. The argument is that if you can walk to a convenience store, then the lowlifes who patronize such establishments can walk to your house. I don't agree with this, I would much rather have the convenience of a place to buy milk within walking distance.

I'm not talking about apartments. I'm talking about the suburban dream house, with the barbeque and the inflatable pool in the backyard.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Um... (none / 0) (#88)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 12:45:15 AM EST

I've lived in a number of houses in suburbs, and every damn one was in walking distance to either a 7-eleven, a liquor store, or both.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Walking distance (none / 0) (#109)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 02:12:56 PM EST

Having your house out of walking distance is irrelevant. It just means that the 7-11 BadGuys (tm) will steal a car from some rich guy buying milk, and drive to your fancy house.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Define 'walking distance' (none / 0) (#112)
by Kintanon on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 02:30:41 PM EST

For me Walking Distance is less than 5 miles away. I can walk than in about 45 minutes, maybe an hour if I'm strolling. The beig pain is carrying 50lbs of groceries back... But then again, the excersise is good for me, and if it's too heavy I can always take the bus back...
I know some people for whom walking distance is measured in number of steps, and can be kept track of on both hands. These are the kind of people that complain about their couch being too far from their fridge... Even slightly more active people frequently aren't willing to walk more than 1/2 a mile...


[ Parent ]

Back to the 1950s (none / 0) (#62)
by thebrix on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 04:30:27 PM EST

Although I believe you, the whole post reads like a throwback to (a romanticisation of) the Eisenhower period ;)

Unfortunately, all suburbs are not the same and you appear to have struck lucky; I've lived in 1920s ones (where the weakness was the quality of the houses; they looked impressive but were astonishingly flimsy) and 1970s ones (where the weakness was the lack of pavements).

Then there have been disasters like Cambourne, where the developers had a fabulously rare opportunity in the United Kingdom (a new town) and blew it; there was virtually no public transport provided and I heard the 6,000 houses were made up entirely of 17 stock designs from catalogues :/

[ Parent ]

1950s != bad (none / 0) (#78)
by thomp on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 09:16:31 PM EST

Although I believe you, the whole post reads like a throwback to (a romanticisation of) the Eisenhower period ;)

Unfortunately, all suburbs are not the same and you appear to have struck lucky; I've lived in 1920s ones (where the weakness was the quality of the houses; they looked impressive but were astonishingly flimsy) and 1970s ones (where the weakness was the lack of pavements).

I grew up in a small town in the midwestern US in the early 1960s on the tail end of the boomer age. All I want is for my kids to enjoy the same life I had when I was growing up.

I have lived (with kids) in the same crappy buildings in the same poorly planned suburbs, which is why I can't help but wax romantic about my current situation. It *really* is everything you'd want in a suburban community. My only complaint is that my next door neighbor cuts his grass too short. That bastard ... heh.

[ Parent ]
Inconsistency (none / 0) (#83)
by TheSleeper on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 11:02:00 PM EST

A couple of posts up you wrote:

I was raised in the city, and I'll never go back.

Now we see:

I grew up in a small town in the midwestern US

So which is it?

[ Parent ]

Oops, not too clear ... (none / 0) (#95)
by thomp on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 09:06:42 AM EST

Lived in the small town until I was 11, then moved to the big city.

Sorry about the confusion. I shouldn't have used the phrase 'raised in the city', but it seemed to flow better than 'spent my later childhood in the city'.

Damn computer geeks don't know enough to read what I mean and not what I write ... heh.


[ Parent ]
Surprised noone has mentioned Arcosanti (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:11:35 PM EST

I've always been interested in the Acrosanti project, and I think I would enjoy living there, but I always wondered what I would do there (job wise).

From the Arcosanti website:

Suburban sprawl, spreading across the landscape, causes enormous waste, frustration and long-term costs by depleting land and resources. Dependancy on the automobile intensifies these problems, while increasing pollution, congestion, and social isolation. Arcosanti hopes to address these issues by building a three-dimensional, pedestrian-oriented city. Because this plan eliminates suburban sprawl, both the urban and natural environments should keep their integrity and thrive.

Arcosanti is a prototype: if successful, it will become a model for how the world builds its cities.

Backflash (none / 0) (#57)
by JChen on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 02:42:09 PM EST

Sounds like Dark Reign 2.

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
Suburbs are a compromise between rural and urban (3.66 / 3) (#51)
by Pure Logic on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 01:39:48 PM EST

There are many reasons that people are fleeing the city: crime, pollution, bad schools, noise, gangs, socialism, corruption, traffic, annoying people, lousy parks, high prices, high taxes, and so on...

IMO, most people would like to return to a pre-1960s environment where people were friendly and you didn't have to lock your doors, and you knew all your neighbors.  You didn't even have to worry about some pervert snatching your kid when he was playing outside!

If given a choice, I think many people would like to live in a rural area, but the truth is that there are no jobs in rural areas unless you want to start a career as a gas station attendent.  Also, the rural crime rate has really been climbing over the last decade (mostly minor crimes like vandalism and theft).  No place is really immune to the cultural decay of America.

The best alternative is the suburbs.  They are close enough to the city to find work, but do not have many of the problems which the cities have.  Sure, they have crime, but like the rural areas it is mostly limited to property crimes and driving offenses.  And sure the traffic is bad (even worse than the city actually), yet the schools are good, the people are generally of better character (no welfare collectors or homeless), no noise, the kids can play street hockey or football in the backyard.  You have easy access to modern, clean stores and hospitals.  The local government generally stays out of your life (although some communities have strict rules about what you can and can not do with your house and yard).  While the houses are crowded together and there is little opportunity for enjoying nature, at least you are better off than those in the concrete jungle of the city.

In short, suburbs offer the convenience of the city with the peaceful cultural environment of the country.  No, you can't walk to your job, and yes it is more hectic than the country, but it is an acceptable compromise for 90% of the people.

Why have the cities become such hellholes?  In my opinion it can be traced directly back to the cultural changes of the 1960s onward.  The various left-wing social engineering projects have become miserable failures, and have turned our once prosperous urban areas into row upon row of empty storefronts sprayed with gang graffiti.  Our schools became more concerned about diversity and promoting leftist ideas and catering to people who refuse to learn English than they are about teaching basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Now urban criminals have more rights than crime victims, and racist programs like affirmative action have shut qualified people out of jobs and promotions just because of the color of their skin.  Government handouts encourage people not to work (hey, I won't feel the need to work either when the govt. sends me a free paycheck), and high taxes punish those who do work...

Okay, okay, I realize I am going off into a rant here, but you can analyze the facts yourself: What things have changed throughout our nation's history to make our urban areas unliveable?

I think you're being a bit hypocritical (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by bigsexyjoe on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 03:40:48 PM EST

Subrubs take up a lot more than their fair share of social services. For example the roads. A lot of infrastructure must be built out to the suburbs. Denser living is more logical. (I don't know but I hope suburbs pay more for water and electricity to support the pipes and wires.)

City public schools do poorly because they are underfunded compared to suburban schools, not because they spend so much time teaching leftist propaganda.

I am very happy to live in Chicago. I feel that the city people are generally of higher character. I do know some of my neighbors. They are usually down to earth and not so materialistic. The people here are not as naive as suburbanites (e.g. they know that a schools performance is a strong function of how well funded it is). I can always tell a sububuran teenager by the blank look on his or her face. (I am being totally serious about this.)

I get around on the train very easily and do not have to support terrorists by excessive reliance on gasoline.

I have found that black people from bad neighborhoods are usually quite nice (except for the gang-bangers). They tend to be very religous and actually live their lives more closely to Jesus's teachings than most Christian right people.

In Chicago the rich people are all moving back to city, especially near the train. I am worried about what will happen to the lower class people who will be pushed out to the suburbs. They can't afford cars and they will be in suburbs which consist entirely of poor people. These places will be true hell holes with barely enough money to maintain roads. Meanwhile my rent goes up and surrounded by Starbuckses. Oh well, nothing lasts forever.

[ Parent ]

Well, I don't feel the same way (none / 0) (#81)
by khallow on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 10:27:13 PM EST

Subrubs take up a lot more than their fair share of social services. For example the roads. A lot of infrastructure must be built out to the suburbs. Denser living is more logical. (I don't know but I hope suburbs pay more for water and electricity to support the pipes and wires.)

The suburbs pay for what they get. Ie, your hope is indeed fulfilled. OTOH, in urban areas you often pay for services you don't get like law enforcement, public services, schools, etc. It's not just a matter of underfunding. Having said that, there's no obvious reason why you couldn't pack the entire human race into Ohio. Ie, if the building is well-planned, you don't have to climb over people all the time, then it could be done. Of course, in practice it would go overbudget ISS-style and the shortcuts taken would turn the whole thing into a continuous riot involving a significant fraction of the human race.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

I laugh at you. (none / 0) (#94)
by gromm on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 05:00:23 AM EST

In my opinion it can be traced directly back to the cultural changes of the 1960s onward.

Or maybe it was the severe recession in the 70's that both drove up inflation and unemployment rates? The housing projects near industrial districts were hit especially hard and as a result turned into ghettos as everyone that could, moved and everyone that couldn't, turned to selling drugs or other crime to survive.

Our schools became more concerned about diversity and promoting leftist ideas and catering to people who refuse to learn English than they are about teaching basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic.

I've heard this before. Right after "reading, writing and arithmetic" comes "And how to treat people. How to treat niggers. The only good nigger is a dead nigger." And so we come to...

and racist programs like affirmative action have shut qualified people out of jobs and promotions just because of the color of their skin.

Kind of like how racist assholes like you have shut people out of entry level jobs just because of the colour of your skin. Affirmative action exists because there was desperate inequality to begin with. How the hell do you expect people to become fine, upstanding taxpayers who hate welfare moms for sucking $3.50 out of their wallets every paycheque, when they're not getting the city contracts that would keep their businesses afloat?

Government handouts encourage people not to work (hey, I won't feel the need to work either when the govt. sends me a free paycheck), and high taxes punish those who do work...

Heh. "Free paycheques." I like that. Obviously you've never been poor because a shitty minimum wage job scraping gum off floors or cleaning grease vats is preferable to welfare. Why? Becuase a) you don't quite get enough to keep body and soul together and b) because if you had to go through the same bureaucratic bullshit, the lineups, the public humiliation, the massive mistrust and blatant accusations of your person to get your paycheque at work, your employer would have an open revolt complete with molatov cocktails and lynch mobs faster than you can say "the peons are revolting!"

And high taxes? Canadians like myself have even higher taxes than you do. I just figured out exactly how much of my tax money goes towards keeping grandma off the street, family allowance, and "welfare bums." 13.5%. If I figure that as a dollar value, based on the $219.68 I paid in tax last paycheque (total deductions included Federal tax, Employment Insurance and CPP... EI doesn't count of course because it goes to a different budget but I figure I spend all that in federal sales tax anyway) it comes to a WHOPPING $29.66. My god, what could I do with that money if it weren't spent on welfare! I could buy a case of beer! I could buy a new mouse for my computer! I could pay for all the porn channels on cable! I could buy the newest Britney Spears album!

Oh wait! No I wouldn't, because I would be in JAIL for stealing a loaf of bread or a bag of rice two years ago just to feed my sorry ass at a time when I couldn't find a job for four months. And people like you who were born with a fucking silver spoon up your ass would be bitching about how we should just kill all the criminals so that you don't have to pay $50 every paycheque to cover the cost of incarceration. "Those dirty criminals!" you would say, "They could never be fine upstanding taxpayers like us!"
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]

Suburbs are great! (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by avdi on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 02:04:22 PM EST

I moved from the city to the suburbs recently.  It's been great.  Now that we have nice people (rather than asshole yuppies) for neighbors we actually know our neighbors and greet them when they walk by.  Our kids have lots more friends.  They play safely. Their school is far nicer than the ones in the city.  The streets are quiet and peaceful.  We can leave our doors unlocked.  There's plenty of shopping within walking distance.  We have a quaint little small-town main-street shopping district a short walk away, as well as a couple strip malls with larger stores.  There's a brand-new farmers' market.  There's a great sushi restaurant, and a decent coffee-and-bagel shoppe, and about a half-dozen pizza joints to choose from. That's just a small sampling.  We have a couple nice public parks also within walking distance, and some lovely nature parks a short drive away.  

It's the suburban dream here in Shrewsbury, PA.  Where do you live? It sounds absolutely miserable.

Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir

Problem with suburbs (none / 0) (#65)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 04:44:27 PM EST

One major problem is that they're perceived as an escape from the cities. The result is that everyone who can afford to move, does. The city is now full of the people who can't afford to move! Businesses close because they don't think inner-city people can afford their stuff. Money for the infrastructure dries up. In the meanwhile, the suburbanites discover that they haven't left crime behind after all! The criminals follow the money and rob them. And it's only a matter of time before the rot in the urban core spreads to the burbs! *end rant*
Information wants to be beer.
Regarding Crime (none / 0) (#66)
by bouncing on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 05:17:16 PM EST

And it's only a matter of time before the rot in the urban core spreads to the burbs! *end rant*
Although I agree generally with your rant, the simple fact of the matter is that suburbs do have lower crime. And the spreading city does not really effect that. Suburbs have lower crime because there they are less dense, lack lower income housing districts, and have excellent police departments. Particularly the home-rule suburbs.

I'm very sure that the crime issue is not a myth. Although it's hard to say what the cause and effect is, history shows use that the cities have always been higher crime than less dense areas.

[ Parent ]

Crime (none / 0) (#108)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 02:03:05 PM EST

The crime rate may still be higher in the city, but it's getting pretty high in some of the burbs, especially the older ones. I'm frequently hearing about burglaries and carjackings in some suburb. The burbs LOOK far better and cleaner, but I wonder how much is just illusion.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Safety of the Suburbs (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by frankwork on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 06:57:23 PM EST

Several people have mentioned that one of the lures of the suburbs is a sense of safety.

Unfortunately increasing your commuting distance to live in the suburbs has a large negative impact on safety, one that overwhelms any decrease from the suburbs' lower crime rate.

Northwest Environment Watch published an interesting little pamphlet called The Car and the City that discusses this sort of thing in detail.

What? (none / 0) (#75)
by MicroBerto on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 08:52:01 PM EST

Can you give a few examples of why the commute raises the crime rate? I can't think of a single significant one, unless pollution is considered a crime in this case.

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]
Safety, not crime (none / 0) (#93)
by driptray on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 02:21:24 AM EST

No connection between commuting and crime rates was mentioned. What was mentioned was that commuting negatively impacts on safety, presumably due to the risk of car accidents, and the negative health effects of commuting by car.

We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
One solution (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by Skwirl on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 07:10:11 PM EST

Implement an urban growth boundary.

"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
Green belt (none / 0) (#115)
by thebrix on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 05:03:15 PM EST

It's the British term for the same thing.

And, because the green belt is deliberately difficult to get planning permission to build on, the brownfield site (old industrial land cleaned up) is currently favoured.

[ Parent ]

What!? (none / 0) (#71)
by ucblockhead on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 07:16:58 PM EST

Your notes on crime are just plain wrong. I live in a suburb. Crime is exceedingly low. "Tempting target" or no, property crime (as with all crime in general) is much, much worse in the city. The nearest city to me (Oakland, CA) is working on over a hundred murders for a population of 700,000 so far this year, while my little burb of Walnut Creek, with a population of 70,000 and less than twenty miles away, hasn't had a murder in four years.

The parents you speak of don't seem to be in my suburb. I watch the kids that live on either side of us ride their bikes on our street daily, and the large, twenty acre park (not fenced) a block from our house is always full of families and children.

(And there are plenty of little Tylers and little Madisons in the public school my wife works at.)

I'm not denying that cities are more culturally diverse, but these suburbs you talk about certainly aren't like any of the ones I've lived in?
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

it's a perception thing (none / 0) (#87)
by adamba on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 12:25:17 AM EST

I've watched my kids in wide-open suburban parks in and fenced-in city ones. And the fenced-in ones are just more relaxing. Because these days you never know who just might be lurking in the woods. Of course part of me knows that the chance that my child will actually be approached by a kidnapper/molester is basically zero. But it detracts from the feeling of ease that the suburbs are supposed to engender.

And I know few parents these days who would let their kids just go off and play by themselves somewhere in the neighborhood for hours before dinner...or at least until they reach an age that is much older than what my parents would let me do that at (I can't tell you the age yet except it's older than any of my kids are).

Same thing with crime. Sure there is more crime in the city. But are things more relaxing in the suburbs? Imagine you are a homeowner with a nice-sized lot and you hear a noise in your backyard at night. Now what do you do.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Your prejudices (none / 0) (#90)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 12:51:41 AM EST

You are talking about your own prejudices, not the way people behave in suburbs. I live in a suburb. People don't act the way you say they act.

Are thinks more relaxing in the suburbs? Uh...yes. That's why people move to them.

(I've heard a noise in the backyard at night many times. It's the fucking racoons.)

If you don't perceive suburbs to be safe, well fine, but don't think that your perceptions are somehow everybody's perceptions. They aren't. I live in the suburbs precisely because I don't want to worry about crime, and because I want to live on a street where I don't have to worry about my cats and my (future) kids getting squished by some moron going fifty past my house.

No, we can't pretend kids are safe anywhere, but I damn well would feel safer in the suburbs then downtown in even the safest major city.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

oh please (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by adamba on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 01:22:28 AM EST

Look I live in the suburbs, and I have kids. How do you know how people with kids act or feel? Do you have long conversations with your kid-endowed friends about this? Trust me I do and this is the way a lot of people feel. And if you don't think people drive 50 past suburban houses...yeah right.

Meaning to sound superior, I don't see how you can predict how you are going to feel once you have children. If you want to continue this conversation, get back to me when you do.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Get out of your own head (none / 0) (#104)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 11:57:13 AM EST

I live in the suburbs. I have friends in the suburbs. My wife is a schoolteacher, so we have a pretty fucking good idea of how parents in suburbs feel.

Perhaps your town just sucks. Who knows? But I grew up in the 'burbs and I've lived for years in the 'burbs and your description of them frankly doesn't match any reality I know of.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

ooohhh (none / 0) (#107)
by adamba on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 01:52:49 PM EST

You used a naughty word..."RUSTY!! ucblockhead is acting sophisticated again!"

I have no doubt you think you know how parents in the suburbs feel.

Since your wife is a schoolteacher, let me ask you a question: does the school district do background checks on its employees?

- adam

P.S. I just re-read that last paragraph...I didn't mean "how could they hire someone who would marry you", I meant along the lines of "If so, why?"

[ Parent ]

Jeez (none / 0) (#113)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 02:39:18 PM EST

Oh, go stew in your own prejudices.

Listen, I socialize with many parents. Talk to them at dinner parties. Talk to them over the back fence. I'm going to be one of them in about four months. Since my wife's a teacher, we know the "parent community" quite well.

I'm sorry you are living in a world of fear, but frankly, it's not where I live, and it's not how people think where I live.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

fence height (none / 0) (#116)
by adamba on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 07:35:19 PM EST

...Talk to them over the back fence...

Well I can't top that. I bow down before your awesome iconography.

But you remind me of another strange choice made in suburb design. Where I live, if you build a fence it has to be 6 feet high. Now I can understand the logic in saying everyone has to build a 6-foot high fence. But giving people a choice of no fence, or a 6-foot fence, seems strange. You are not enforcing total privacy since you can have no fence at all. So what would be so terrible about a 4-foot fence in that situation?

- adam

[ Parent ]

re: fence height (none / 0) (#118)
by louboy on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 07:54:13 PM EST

Wow, at least you have the freedom to not have a fence.  Where I grew up (Riverside County, CA), all fences were the exact same height, and I recall the neighbors complaining because my dad wanted to paint his fence a slightly different shade than their fences.

[ Parent ]
Oh please... (none / 0) (#110)
by Kintanon on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 02:19:03 PM EST

You act like having children automatically makes you an authority on the social psychology of suburban humanity, as well as an expert of the risks of various criminal activity in the suburbs as opposed to urban areas. Having a child makes you a parent, nothing more, nothing less. You don't gain any mystical insight into humanity just because you have a kid, you might THINK you do, but you don't. All you know is that the people in your neighborhood are a bunch of paranoid pansies. That isn't true for all parents. My aunts and uncles with young children (ranges from 1 year old up through all age brackets currently) live in a diverse range of locations from country forests to inner city townhouses. All of them have different attitudes about their children, some are more paranoid than others, and there is no correlation between location and attitude. The illusion of suburban safety that you have is deluding you to the real threats in a suburban neighborhood, other peoples kids. That's right, the biggest danger to your property and children is the children of other people. The ones who egg your house and go 'pumpkin smashing' on halloween, the ones who think it would be funny to light your dog on fire, the ones who need an extra 50$ to buy a stereo so they steal your kids bike, or break into your house, or just lift cash out of your purse/wallet when they are over visiting your kid.
Sure, you're kid isn't likely to be snatched by a molester, but he's quite likely to get the shit kicked out of him by some neighborkid who doesn't like him. Suburbia has DIFFERENT dangers than the city, not fewer. Your illusion of safety just means you aren't preparing your child to deal with life, so he's going to be truly fucked when he has to come out into the real world.


[ Parent ]

being a parent (none / 0) (#114)
by adamba on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 02:51:44 PM EST

Being a parent makes me know how it feels to be a parent. NOT being a parent doesn't make you know this. You may think you know, but you are wrong. Can I convince someone of this? No.

Does every parent feel the same way I do about safety? As you pointed out, the answer to that is also No.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Crime in Oakland (5.00 / 1) (#106)
by louboy on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 12:21:52 PM EST

Interestingly, the most crime-ridden areas of Oakland are the lowest density areas -- the areas that were "suburban" only 40 years ago.  Most of East Oakland has suburban densities -- single family detached homes -- yet has far greater crime than the denser areas of the city.  

Suburbs per se aren't bad, but they tend to slummify at an alarming rate as they are engulfed by the central city.  Jane Jacobs described this process in "The Death and Life of Great American Cities", which is a wonderful book for anybody interested in cities.

I think that places like Walnut Creek have avoided this fate, primarily due to their physical isolation (hills and open space) from the central cities.  When suburban areas are not isolated from, or are engulfed by, the central city, they decay, and the more affluent residents flee for the new suburban outer ring.  You can see this process at work in Southern California, where I grew up, where the suburbs sprawl further and further, endlessly into the desert...

[ Parent ]

The Front Porch (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by MicroBerto on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 09:00:31 PM EST

Perhaps one problem with housing developments lately in suburbs is the disappearance of the front porch.

No longer are the days where everyone hangs out and walks up to everyone else on the front porch, while watching their kids play outside together. Porches are too ugly for contemporary homes... it's a damn shame.

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

More about Chicago (5.00 / 3) (#77)
by pridkett on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 09:06:29 PM EST

I've seen one comment already about Chicago, but I'll interject mine.  I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul (which really is just one big blob of suburbs searching for a big city to grow around).  I moved from the comfort of the outer ring of suburbs to Bronzeville in Chicago to attend school at IIT.  In fact, where I live is right in the middle of the densest sprawl of public housing in America (state street from 22nd - 53rd streets).

I love living in the city.  I've chosen to remain in the city and just move across the freeway about a mile now that I've graduated.  The commute is incredible, while everyone else is slogging their ways in down the Kennedy and Eisenhower, I make my 25 mile commute in 30 minutes daily.

I'll address some of the stuff from the article.  Is there crime here?  Yes.  Is there more in the suburbs?  No way.  I realize that I'm much more likely to be a victim of crime again here in the city (had my car stolen, house broken into...) than out in say, Darien.  Transportation time is also usually a little greater in the city.  There are the 24 hour grocery stores by me and all, but most places I have to take public transportation to avoid the parking headaches, including restaurants.  This rather sucks.

So why do I remain here?  Well, it's cheaper.  Yes, living in the city is cheaper than suburbs.  I don't own, I rent, but rent is $900 for a three bedroom place.  Out in the burbs rent is closer to $1200 for a three bedroom place.  Oh yeah, there's a little thing called Lake Michigan here.  And all of Chicago's festivals.  For a single guy or a couple it's great.

Would I raise a family in the city?  NEVER.  The schools are atrocious here, no matter how much I work I wouldn't be able to make up for that.  So that's my take.  I'll live here until I get married, start a family and stuff, then it's off to the burbs to raise em.
Read this story.

Not all Chicago schools are that bad... (none / 0) (#121)
by SympathyInChaos on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 09:09:18 PM EST

Northside COllege Prep This is a Public School in Chicago after all. Theres also several others Like Walter Payton and Whitney Young isn't bad.
I attend Northside and Will be part of the 1st graduating class. They really has a lot of the things that make Suburban schools good (facilities, teachers and courses) while also being inside the city, accesible through public transporation and have a diverse student population both in race and in economicS.
You just have to show you're capable of working hard, the entrance exams aren't that hard. After all even I got in and with a score of 26 on my ACT's. A lot of my friends got scores in between 25-32.
Which from what I hear, that isn't too bad. So it's not fair to say that all students in the CHicago Public school systems are crap. But that's not to say that the system is great. Not at all. it needs improve a lot. Having a few good school is nice, but not everyone can get into them.

[ Parent ]
comment for avdi in Shrewsbury, PA (none / 0) (#79)
by adamba on Wed Jul 24, 2002 at 09:16:56 PM EST

(since "Reply" to that post didn't seem to work). Is Shrewsbury really a suburb? From a map it looks like it is a small town, about 20 miles from York, which isn't exactly a metropolis.

- adam

Dunno what the technical definition is... (none / 0) (#125)
by avdi on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:03:54 PM EST

...but seemingly half the people here commute to Baltimore every day, so it functions as a suburb of Baltimore.

Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
[ Parent ]
Look up "New Urbanism" (none / 0) (#101)
by nosilA on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 10:46:55 AM EST

Basically new urbanism is a movement toward the more traditional small down development.  It feels very artificial, but it's a great place to get the best of both worlds, particularly if you're trying to raise a family.  They're becoming very popular in the DC area, but there are hundreds of them in suburbs around the country.

My development has, at its core, a town center.  The center is comprised of a shopping center, a "main street" and a central town square.   Main street has some small stores and offices.  The town square area has several small restaurants and a few more stores.  The shopping center has all the typical strip mall things.  

As you leave the core, you can go either west or south.  To the south you have mostly townhouses and small houses.  To the west, there are larger houses on slightly larger lots.  In the middle of the residential areas, there is a community area with a pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, and grass.  The streets are narrow and windy, and there are sidewalks on both sides of the street everywhere.  It is very much geared toward walking.  

My biggest complaint with my community is that it's not on the Metrorail.  There are 3 busses that go through the development, however.  But essentially, everyone drives to get to work.  Even though my grocery store is close enough to walk to, I usually find myself driving there so I don't have to carry my gallons of water home.  So it's not completely what it should be, but it's better than the typical suburb around DC.

Personally, I miss the city life and I'll be moving back, but I think the push to New Urbanism has promise.

Vote to Abstain!

Concerning schools (none / 0) (#105)
by psicE on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 12:14:46 PM EST

A debate a while back at the JFK Library, UMass Boston, featured the five Democratic candidates for goverrnor of Massachusetts. Four of the five candidates sent their kids to private school. One of those candidates, Tom Birmingham, lives in Chelsea, a poor, working-class city bordering Boston.

When asked why he sent his kids to private school, Birmingham said (not exact quote), "Chelsea's a great place. There's a real community here; most of the people here have lived here for generations. Some of them got rich and moved out to the suburbs. I could have done that; I could have moved to Newton (a suburb close to Boston with excellent public schools) and sent my kids to public school. But I didn't want to leave Chelsea. I may have to send my kids to private school, but that's less elitist than moving to the suburbs."

Why do most people leave the city? Not because of crime; there are safe parts of most cities, even if they're not in the core of the city; essentially suburbs inside the city, but close enough to the city that they're accessible by public transit. Not because of cost; even if huge central cities like Boston and Seattle are expensive, there are smaller cities all around (in urban states at least) that are very cheap to live in; and if people could expect less than a 4-bedroom house on an acre of land for a 4-person family, they could get a condo in any city they want for the same price or less as a house in the suburbs.

People move to the suburbs because of the schools. But many parents who live in the suburbs end up sending their kids to private school anyway, and charter schools are making location even less of a factor in where kids go to school. But above all, people live in the suburbs because they want more space than they'll ever know what to do with, and because they want elitism. If a given house in the city is more expensive than a house in the suburbs, people cite that as a reason to move; if a given house is more expensive, people will still move, because being able to afford a big house in that location will demonstrate their wealth, and their value as a person, to other people. That's a culture we need to change.

Schools, and also cost if necessary, can be easily changed: pass a law declaring all schools to be municipal-independent charter schools, and amend the tax code to charge a 20% "sprawl tax" on any mortgage payment on a house in a census-designated suburban zone (rural areas are exempt), or giving people a tax deduction for payments on properties in the city, and only in the city. Ignore for the moment how hard it would be to pass those laws; if they ever were passed, that's all you'd need.

More difficult will be convincing people not to be snobs. Is that possible? I'm not sure; it's the same argument as getting people to give up their guns. Laws are ineffective. It would require a huge change in the American way of thinking. I hope it happens before it's too late.

American gun culture? (none / 0) (#124)
by bigbtommy on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 06:07:12 PM EST

You barely have to criticise the right to bear arms and you'll start getting death threats. Case in point: a photographer, who's name has slipped my mind (useful for A-level Photography... :D) who released a book of images called 'Gun Nation' including a shocking picture (imho) of a 14-year-old girl working in a gun shop selling shotguns and ammo. After releasing the book, he has had death threats. Can't find the name of the bloke who made it - anyone know?
-- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up
[ Parent ]
Suburban Dreams Move to the City | 125 comments (109 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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