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Thread: Why are suburban lots in the southwest so small?

  1. #51
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    My contribution to this most interesting discussion is this link to the 1894 Buffalo City Atlas, which shows just about all the building lots and the buildings on them that existed when the data was collected. (http://www.erie.gov/atlases/buff_94/city_atlas.html).

    The lot widths and lengths are listed along with the street numbers. The buildings are also shown, along with the number of stories as well as composition (ie, red for brick and yellow for wooden). Businesses, churches, schools, etc are identified.

    This atlas is from the time when Buffalo was growing but hadn't yet been "swamped" with newcomers (primarily European immigrants). What you see is that large areas of the city outside of downtown were either still farmland or "suburban" type developments. Also the tradition of deep narrow lots seems well entrenched.

    Some time in the 1890s I believe, NYS prohibited cities from annexing of surrounding areas, which meant that Buffalo couldn't expand outward. I think that contributed to the development of very dense urban neighborhoods as the city's population grew. The lots were replatted to 30' wide and whole neighborhoods of two-family homes were built (up and down apartments). Also, many neighborhoods added additional houses on the same lot. You see some of that on the atlas, but it became quite common in many working class neighborhoods later on.

  2. #52
    Cyburbian
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    I like that law. No annexation! Seriously.

  3. #53
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I like that law. No annexation! Seriously.
    That might sound good in effect but there would be some dire unintended consequences of that. If there was no annexation I think you'd just see a lot of near-urban, fringe development in counties that tend to have lower building standards and infrastructure standards. That is unless all states had laws in place that allowed jurisdiction by municipalities over zoning and building/infrastructure standards for areas within a certain radius of their boundaries (ETJ). Without ETJ laws it would be a big mess!

    Now urbana growth boundaries on the other hand...that's an idea that I wish were more commonplace.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  4. #54
    Cyburbian
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    What if each township was their own municipality, though? Here is a small map of the Twin Cities but you can clearly see how most of the suburbs are pretty square. The sheer number of lakes makes it so that some aren't square but if the lakes didn't exist they would be.



    This is a bad map but it shows how clean that pattern of annexation can look. I don't see why that is a problem.

  5. #55
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Well, without annexation you get balkanization of the region and the requirement for regional planning gets tougher and tougher. I'd much prefer to see a region under one municipal control than fractured into 4 dozen+ separate kingdoms.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  6. #56
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nec209 View post
    Has you see this Los Angeles shot ...
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/albaum/1362641756/sizes/l/


    That is what I'm talking about.. (( You will not find that look in the North or North East US or in Canada.))
    Modest bungalows, small (5,000-7,000 square foot) but not tiny lots, interconnected street grid; it's not unique to LA.

    Looks like typical 1920s-era streetcar suburb development, which the LA area had quite a bit of thanks to the Pacific Electric system. Also, the Los Angeles area absolutely exploded during the 1920s; it's really the decade when it came onto its own as a major American city. Before WWI, it was essentially an outpost at the far western fringe of the country; a small city surrounded by hundreds of square miles of orange groves.

    There's a city that is fairly close to you that has a similar history; relatively small before WWI, explosive development in the 1920s with bungalows on small-but-not-that-small lots, and in interconnected street grid. From 1910 until the 1950s, the region that city was in had a growth rate that mirrored that of Los Angeles.

    I'm talking about Detroit. I'm not kidding. A lot of 1920s Detroit is now urban prairie, but you can see evidence of the Los Angeles-like development pattern in neighborhoods that escaped the blight. Detroit's residential areas generally developed at a much lower density than those of Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #57
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    There's a city that is fairly close to you that has a similar history; relatively small before WWI, explosive development in the 1920s with bungalows on small-but-not-that-small lots, and in interconnected street grid. From 1910 until the 1950s, the region that city was in had a growth rate that mirrored that of Los Angeles.

    I'm talking about Detroit. I'm not kidding. A lot of 1920s Detroit is now urban prairie, but you can see evidence of the Los Angeles-like development pattern in neighborhoods that escaped the blight. Detroit's residential areas generally developed at a much lower density than those of Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo.
    My bungalow is on a 4,000 sq ft lot, as are most of the homes in my neighborhood. About ten percent of the housing are two family homes. Detroit does have fewer apartments than most large Cities, and it has a ton of industrial areas. People moving to Detroit from the 1930's to 1960's were virtually gauanteed enough income to afford a home so that is the pattern that developed. As the jobs dried up or the well paid jobs moved overseas the impact has been devastating.

  8. #58
    Cyburbian
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  9. #59
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Modest bungalows, small (5,000-7,000 square foot) but not tiny lots, interconnected street grid; it's not unique to LA.

    Looks like typical 1920s-era streetcar suburb development, which the LA area had quite a bit of thanks to the Pacific Electric system. Also, the Los Angeles area absolutely exploded during the 1920s; it's really the decade when it came onto its own as a major American city. Before WWI, it was essentially an outpost at the far western fringe of the country; a small city surrounded by hundreds of square miles of orange groves.

    There's a city that is fairly close to you that has a similar history; relatively small before WWI, explosive development in the 1920s with bungalows on small-but-not-that-small lots, and in interconnected street grid. From 1910 until the 1950s, the region that city was in had a growth rate that mirrored that of Los Angeles.

    I'm talking about Detroit. I'm not kidding. A lot of 1920s Detroit is now urban prairie, but you can see evidence of the Los Angeles-like development pattern in neighborhoods that escaped the blight. Detroit's residential areas generally developed at a much lower density than those of Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo.

    There was show on history Channel on LA called the citiy of of the underworld of old subway and streetcar lines underground not being used.

    I think Toronto had much higher land value and so that why Toronto did not not build like LA.Well Winnipeg a small city in Canada population 630,000 people is the closest you going get to looking like LA .Well Toronto just looks more dense and more European looking.

    The sun belt cities seem to be more into bungalows homes and homes with no basment also 1 story storefront. Well the North ,North east US and Canada and very much so Toronto it is living above a store , townhouse , roomates ,basement tenets , 15 to 20 story apartments.

    We really don't have small homes or trailer parks in Toronto .What we have is people living above a store. And roomates ,basement tenets ,townhouse and 15 to 20 story apartments.

    Toronto was really not into bungalows at all.Only in the 50's , 60's and 70's Toronto built alot of bungalows and semi- house do to high up demad after ww2 for homes. In the 80's and 90's homes got very big and 2 car garage But before the 50's seem to be that victorian look here is some homes..

    Here is what you see in Toronto old section before 50's in Toronto.The victorian homes and buildings before 50's.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/3819612...90729/sizes/o/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/3819612...90723/sizes/o/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/3819612...05680/sizes/o/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/3819612...05684/sizes/o/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/3819612...96429/sizes/o/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/3819612...96439/sizes/o/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ettml/2083977211/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/liquidi...on/3706923007/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/18378305@N00/3227235338/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/commonw...ck/3447094751/
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3024/...4bc27ca592.jpg
    http://victorianjack.com/wp-content/...ouse-start.jpg
    http://www.treehugger.com/victorian-row.jpg
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3010/...65c08db82c.jpg
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3572/...80fd87c4_o.jpg
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jfitzg/3359036141/
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/157/3...6f3fb9.jpg?v=0
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/soho_lass/2287314052/
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/140/3...81b376.jpg?v=0
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29527600@N02/3426652761/
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...Row_Houses.jpg
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathias...eau/242801183/
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3244/...89d77ae2_m.jpg
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/76/17...a0ba9909_m.jpg
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2442/...5d3d7134_m.jpg
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2454/...509c6ca8_m.jpg
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3451/...d0659064_m.jpg
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2451/...e6b5fe27_m.jpg
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/caro11ne/390308397/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/77862908@N00/259575898/
    http://www.hgtv.ca/BLOG/photos/style.../original.aspx
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/artonice/3454654127/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2767725...7594314667927/
    http://www.tysonwilliams.com/2009/07/29/07290902.jpg
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/27677258@N00/252834204/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2767725...7594314667927/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2767725...7594314667927/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2767725...7594314667927/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2767725...7594314667927/


    They took on those victorian houses and buildings. Toronto is very much into these victorian houses and buildings .Well LA did not take on this look.

  10. #60
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nec209 View post
    Not urban sprawl but suburb sprawl .Cities in Canada had little to no urban sprawl.
    I guess I am not clear on what the differences are in your definitions of urban versus suburban sprawl. To me, they are not so distinct. "Sprawl" in an urban setting (that is, development that is contiguous with previous phases of development) to me is the use of suburban development patterns that make inefficient use of land in an urban context. These settings also tend to separate dramatically retail/commercial areas from vast housing areas and emphasize automotive transport as the main mode of transit.

    Again, to me, "sprawl" in a suburban setting is similar to the above only that it is often developed on land that is not contiguous with the urban core and is economically dependent on that core (as a job center, for example). This distinguishes it from a "town" that may also develop outside of the metro core, but is its own municipality and generally has the other trappings (job base, shopping, etc.) that make it its own "place."

    Both of these dynamics employ the same type of land use patterns and so are not different other than the nature of their location. In Albuquerque, for example, much of what is today the Northeast Heights was, at the time of its development, the suburbs. But now the City has grown and it is now part of the urban fabric both literally and politically (the land has been annexed as part of the City). So, what began here as suburban sprawl would today be urban sprawl, but that's only because its now part of the city.

    I am not convinced that Canadian cities are not also struggling with sprawl (urban or suburban) but maybe I am misunderstanding your assertion. I did find this article on sprawl in Canada which is interesting: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/b...12/337404.aspx
    Urban sprawl in Canada is becoming a serious problem. Cities across Canada continue to expand their urban footprint and property taxes are rising above and beyond inflation - there seems to be a direct correlation between these two and there seems to be no end to this trend.

    ...

    Urban sprawl has become a significant issue in most major Canadian cities and is likely a major cause for our city tax hikes. When a city sprawls, the city's got to pay for infrastructure to service these remote areas including sewers, roads, transit, garbage collection etc. So which cities are doing a better job of controlling sprawl?
    I think it is worth considering that many of the housing developers that have perfected the sprawl method of building operate in many different states and geographic areas of the US and Canada. I think its hard to say that one part of the country does not have these problems while others do when these developers are operating in and often apply the same model of development across many settings.

    I think we can say that because a particular city experienced much of its growth at a particular time that the growth patterns may be more or less defined by sprawl patterns, though. We can also consider the degree to which land use controls have impacted that growth. Indeed, that accounts for much of the American West looking the way it does (including exceptions like Portland, OR which uses an Urban Growth Boundary to curtail sprawl). But having grown up in and around Philadelphia, I can tell you that I see the same type of sprawl there as I do here in New Mexico. The architecture is different, but the way land is divided, developed, etc. is the same. Many times, the developers are the same, too. So, I don't agree that we don't see those patterns in the northeastern US, for example.

    Cities are constantly in a state of transition and as long as a place is still growing, in this day and age, sprawl will be an issue that requires control no matter where you are. In my opinion.

    Arbor Lake, Calgary: http://www.rapingmothernature.com/wp...ake-aerial.jpg
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  11. #61
    Cyburbian
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    I'm talking about car centric suburb or urban foot traffiic.

    Suburb sprawl
    • Lower densities than urban patterns
    • Zoning patterns that separate residential and commercial development
    • Big shopping malls ,big plazas , box stores and power centers.
    • Big parking lots
    • road network designed to conform to a hierarchy, including culs-de-sac and leading to larger residential streets, in turn leading to large collector roads and grid pattern be removed.
    • typically have more traffic do to the street hierarchy
    • use of Insutreal park
    • use of big superblock 1.6 KM or 2 KM.

    Urban sprawl the built environment of streetcar suburb with or with out streetcar .
    • Most lots are quite small
    • compact and walkable neighborhood do to the way the streets is laid out
    • laid out in a grid plan
    • no street hierarchy
    • small parking lot ,tight lot ,parking at the side or back ,parking on the roof or under ground .
    • side-walk at the street
    • building more at the street
    • lack of green movment
    • More pedestrian-oriented
    • use of store fronts.


    This may help you understand it you have low , medium or high density when building a city .But we can brake it down more. Is the city built for pedestrian or car centic ?


    Toronto core or down down is very much high density and out of the core or down down is low density and very much car centric.Well the sun belt cities are more medium density and many hybrid of foot and car centric.Well LA is very very much a hybrid of both foot and car centric.

    You don't get this medium density or hybrid in Canada .It is down down or core high density and foot traffic and out of the down down or core car centric.People here where saying that LA was a streetcar suburb and the city plannners made the zoning a medium density .

    What I was saying by suburb sprawl is car centric sprawl and urban sprawl a foot traffic or hybrid sprawl.
    Last edited by nec209; 06 Nov 2009 at 7:20 PM.

  12. #62
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nec209 View post
    You don't get this medium density or hybrid in Canada .It is down down or core high density and foot traffic and out of the down down or core car centric.People here where saying that LA was a streetcar suburb and the city plannners made the zoning a medium density .

    What I was saying by suburb sprawl is car centric sprawl and urban sprawl a foot traffic or hybrid sprawl.
    Actually, I think that metro Toronto and it's numerous suburbs, at least its western ones, actually do show the hybrid sprawl. Some of my relatives live in Mississaugua (right on the Credit River!) just outside Port Credit. There aren't a lot of high rises there, lots of one and two story commercial buildings, strip malls, etc. Many of the one family houses are on large lots for metro Toronto, and look like older, established upper middle class suburbs in the States. Another relative lives in Swansea (some of it looks very much like a 1920s street car suburb while other parts look much more suburban), which was a suburb until the 1970s or so when it was annexed, and still others live in New Toronto, another one of the suburbs that was annexed and is now part of the city itself. The main streets look like suburban or even urban main streets, but get off those streets and you're primarily in residential areas. I don't know how much further west the street cars and commuter trains go past Mississauga, but while you can get downtown with mass transit, I don't know if can get to places like malls and stuff. You can get the subway at Bloor Street in Swansea (I think it's the Islington Station)

    Originally, my relatives lived much closer to downtown -- on Marmaduke Street and on Dupont Street (Avenue?) -- but as they gained economically, they moved away from the densely urban core to much less densely populated areas. That's very typical. Newer immigrants have moved into their old Dupont Street neighborhood (Marmeduke Street is gone but I'm not sure what replaced it.) The reason that my relatives can afford to live on the Credit River, BTW, is because her husband's family bought it decades ago when there was nothing out there but a ramshackle farmhouse on a two acre lot outside of the village of Port Credit!

  13. #63
    Cyburbian
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    Yes Port Credit and street-vill in Mississaugua are the oldest section in Mississaugua and Dundas Rd ,Queensway ,Lakeshore Rd and Houeontario St south in Mississaugua are the closet you are going get to a commercial strip. By guess is city planners hated the commercial strip with stores line up on the street one after a other that goes on for ever has this was anti-garden city movement..The best your going to get to a commercial strip is in Brampton on main street , Queen street and Kennedy Rd .

    Well the only true compact and walkable neighborhood area is the city of Toronto before the Amalgamation .Well Etobicoke,North York and Scarborough boom after ww2 .The only true compact and walkable neighborhood that come any where close is the south in of Etobicoke and Scarborough and the old section in Toronto.

    Keep in mind that Toronto Metro area that is the city of Toronto and other cities around Toronto has of now the population of over 5,000,000 people but in 1951 only 1,262,000 people. And in 1861 that was the population 193,844 people .. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto

    The city of Bramptona and Mississaugua is very much post ww2 growth. The village of Port Credit and street-vill in Mississaugua and Main street and Queen street area in Brampton and Union Vill in Markham and Woodbrige is the only true old section in those area but so small they are like a small village .



    Toronto really was not into the grid system even the old area and most of down town or core very old section where on a modified grid system.


    Toronto downtown you see they modified grid.
    http://www.torontoareadirectory.com/...wntown-map.jpg
    http://listingsca.com/common/maps/torontodowntown.gif
    http://www.redsealnotary.com/images/...ary-public.gif
    http://www.internationalbowl.org/img...wntown_map.jpg
    http://www.guide-toronto.com/toronto...ap_toronto.jpg

    Also when laid out this modified grid it looks like they lacked math skill has the street are not like every 1 KM city block some are big and some small.

    Keep in mind those areas in map are very much high density almost like New York..
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Toronto+downtown
    http://images.google.com/images?gbv=...-8&sa=N&tab=wi

  14. #64
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I think that Toronto, much like Buffalo and other cities on the Great Lakes, began it's "growth spurt" around the turn of the last century. For example, when Casa Loma was built in the early part of the 1900s, it was in an undeveloped area within the city limits. The guy who built it had acres of land (his stable was 200-300 yards away from the house). Now, Casa Loma isn't all that far from the city center.

    The same thing occurred in Buffalo. Before 1900, Buffalo's wealthy had their estates in the largely, undeveloped land just south of Olmstead's Delaware Park. It was only after the Pan American Exposition (1901) that this area was developed for residential use, and this area of the city is now surrounded by urban development, most of which took place in the 1920s.

    I suspect that you would find similar patterns in other cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee -- or even NYC's boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn. People who've made some money have always wanted to escape the congestion of the central city, and they've been the driving force for cities expanding outward. When there were millions of European immigrants and millions more migrants from the impoverished rural areas (especially the South), this population shift wasn't noticeable unless you were to look at individual census tracts. I think that sprawl has always been with us but that it's been masked by city limits and in-migration.

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