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Innate Sprawl

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
I have read it 100 times. I have heard it 101. I have known it to be true, but this morning it set in. I mean it was like a simple riddle and it just all made too much sense. All to my dismay. We, the United States of America, are founded on sprawl. Of course. We were sprawl form Europe. We are still sprawl from Latin America, Asia, etcetera...

We are a place where people go to find a better quality of life, we are the “new world”. We are not people that stick out rough times in places of old and follow traditional ways of life, we are people who escape to new places and start over.

With this acceptance I have gained a bit of clarity. :-|



*It is understood that anomalies do apply, additionally this thread does not intentionally exclude Americans who’s ancestors were brought to this country by force. This thread is NOT about race or religion, rather about the majority of American culture that is believed to also transcend to the minority through cultural exchanges. :)
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
I could not agree with you more, H. You're exactly right -- this nation was founded by people moving away from one reality to create a new one. Since Jamestown in 1607, sprawl has been part of America.

I'd only add that as our nation comes closer to reaching our tipping point in population or density (whatever that number is), and there's no more "prime" land to build on, people will be confronted with the ramifications of that lifestyle, and searching for ways to improve it.

I think that's the essence of the Smart Growth/New Urbanism movements, but they have no urgency because the general public is still not impacted.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Just look at the average waistline in this country 8-!

(Confession: I, too, am a person of plump :) )
 

ChevyChaseDC

Cyburbian
Messages
190
Points
7
Rumpy Tunanator said:
Just look at the capital of this country, DC.
Rumpy, can you clarify about DC? I think that DC and (some of) its suburbs are rather well planned...

[Rant]

The United States was originally founded as a place largely for all people (er, white male landowners) to be free from the societal and religious confines of "The Old Country." Over time, this American definition of 'freedom' has evolved from the idyllic Jeffersonian laissez-faire vision of man free to reach his full potential without government hinderence.

In our present US of A, teeming country of close to 300 million people where the frontier was traversed long ago, and the demands of modern life require a limitless number of public services, the idea of 'freedom' has been hijacked by some hysterics to mean 'freedom from the responsibilities of citizenship.' Nowhere else in the modern world would simply flying the flag atop a gas-guzzling vehicle be considered patriotic (then again, we Americans tend to confuse "patriotism" and "jingoism."

Could you imagine President Bush going on TV and saying, "my fellow Americans, these are tough times for us abroad and at home. I ask that you all do your part to keep America strong. We need to begin by reducing our dependence on Middle East oil. You can help by driving less. Carpool or take mass transit to work. Combine trips. If you have the means, consider purchasing a more fuel-efficient car..."
Neither can I. [/Rant]
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
ChevyChaseDC said:
Rumpy, can you clarify about DC? I think that DC and (some of) its suburbs are rather well planned...

[Rant]

The United States was originally founded as a place largely for all people (er, white male landowners) to be free from the societal and religious confines of "The Old Country." Over time, this American definition of 'freedom' has evolved from the idyllic Jeffersonian laissez-faire vision of man free to reach his full potential without government hinderence.

In our present US of A, teeming country of close to 300 million people where the frontier was traversed long ago, and the demands of modern life require a limitless number of public services, the idea of 'freedom' has been hijacked by some hysterics to mean 'freedom from the responsibilities of citizenship.' Nowhere else in the modern world would simply flying the flag atop a gas-guzzling vehicle be considered patriotic (then again, we Americans tend to confuse "patriotism" and "jingoism."

Could you imagine President Bush going on TV and saying, "my fellow Americans, these are tough times for us abroad and at home. I ask that you all do your part to keep America strong. We need to begin by reducing our dependence on Middle East oil. You can help by driving less. Carpool or take mass transit to work. Combine trips. If you have the means, consider purchasing a more fuel-efficient car..."
Neither can I. [/Rant]
Is your REAL NAME Chev'yah Chaa'salem Bin Laden? Get thee behind me! :-}
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
i think maybe "religious fanatics running away from the problems of the old world"
and "profiteers in search of quick fortunes" is a long way from "hiding in my backyard in a gated subdivision"

Europeans had been pushing further and further into the continent for 450 years - a growing and expanding population doesn't explain the pattern of development unique to the last 50 years.

It certainly doesn't explain this -
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
jresta said:
i think maybe "religious fanatics running away from the problems of the old world"
and "profiteers in search of quick fortunes" is a long way from "hiding in my backyard in a gated subdivision"

Europeans had been pushing further and further into the continent for 450 years - a growing and expanding population doesn't explain the pattern of development unique to the last 50 years.

It certainly doesn't explain this -
I can get from our nation's founding to sprawl in two steps:

1) religious libertarians + land owning profiteers = a nation that cherishes personal liberty.

2) Nation that cherishes personal liberty + top world economy after WWII = the emergence of sprawl.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
CCDC:

Don't you remember when Jimmy Carter actually used the word "sacrifice" on national TV? Look what happened to his presidency! He was right of course and anyone who actually deserved to hold the office would do the same.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,493
Points
41
Anybody remember 11th grade history?
Remember the phrase "Manifest Destiny"?
It is an unstoppable, unassailable fact that there will a McStar*Mart at every fifth intersection of this asphalt nation. Get used to it!















NOT! We, as planners, have got to find the better way, or the above will become the one, true way. Just my $0.02
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
H said:
We, the United States of America, are founded on sprawl. Of course. We were sprawl form Europe. We are still sprawl from Latin America, Asia, etcetera...
I am with jresta on this one - the automobile changes everything. There's a difference between human migration and a sprawling built environment. Just look toward the cultural and economic shifts occurring in China right now. As affluence spreads, they are becoming more like us, and they are not even a democratic nation.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
every habitable portion of the continent was subdued and settled 120 years ago -

that's not the same thing as shopping malls surrounded by 100 acres of parking.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Wanigas? said:
the automobile changes everything. There's a difference between human migration and a sprawling built environment.
Yes, there is. And when you migrate from the city to the burbs, you are sprawling. Sprawling for the same reasons I believe Europeans moving to the new frontier in the 1700's did ...to start a new.

How you get there is an entirely different matter; car, train, boat, feet, bike, it still sprawling out when you migrate from old to new.

Maybe I am being too basic, but then tell me why the we like sprawl so much? And why we want to move OUT to the new school? Why we like 'new towns', but dont care what happens to the city we leave behind? Why we continue to develop green fields and leave brownfields behind???

Me thinks becuase it is easier to start over than to fix a current problem. The very premise we are founded on. I am not saying this is a bad or good attribute, just saying I finally get why we like sprawl so much, it is our culture. :)
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
It's easy to leave a problems behind. If a drug dealer moves in next door, it's often easier (and perceived as safer) for the innocent neighbor to move to a neighborhood without a drug dealer than it is to report the illegal activities.

Therefore, we sprawl. We leave behind that the general populace doesn't want to deal with. Again, auto's just made it easier.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
boiker said:
Therefore, we sprawl. We leave behind that the general populace doesn't want to deal with. Again, auto's just made it easier.
Agreed, the auto did, of course, make it easier.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
population growth doesn't cause sprawl.
10 acre minimum lot sizes does equal sprawl.

we handled population growth quite well up until 50 years ago. staying in relatively compact urban areas.

For 300 years Philly grew in a predictable fashion. It grew from a few hundred settlers to almost 6 million people. They spread out along the river one block at a time. Eventually they followed the rail lines. Later the trolley tracks. The urbanized areas of this 9 county metro continued to get more dense from 1624 up until about 40 years ago when the trend reversed. As the area moved from an agricultural economy to an urban/industrial economy the population boom was mostly immigrants but they didn't settle scattershot into the hinterlands - and nor did the swedes, finns, dutch, and english before them. They settled in villages, towns, and cities along the rivers.

In the last 30 years Metro Philly's population has grown a pathetic 6% but the developed land area has grown 40%.

That's classic sprawl. Not people moving to Ohio and starting Cincinatti or on to Missouri and starting Kansas City.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
H said:
I finally get why we like sprawl so much, it is our culture.
And part of our public policy. Nothing like the benefits of deferred capital gains tax when we move from a quaint 20-year-old 1,800-sf home in the suburbs to a brand new 2,200 home in the exurbs.

And it's not like we want to sprawl. Sprawl is the unintended consequence of our voracious appetite for whatever it is we want or don't know what we are looking for.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Sprawl is not the natural result of American settlement.

A hundred years ago people started migrating from the country to cities to escape the boredom of living on large tracts of land, where everyone is exactly the same and talks about the same things.

Now, people want to get away from the cities so they can live on large tracts of land, where everyone is exactly the same and talks about the same things.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
Don't forget the impact of marketing and the hyposis of the American people: "You must have this house in the suburbs, you must have this HDTV plasma t.v.," etc.
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
Messages
496
Points
16
Wanigas? said:
I am with jresta on this one - the automobile changes everything. There's a difference between human migration and a sprawling built environment. Just look toward the cultural and economic shifts occurring in China right now. As affluence spreads, they are becoming more like us, and they are not even a democratic nation.
I'm afraid we ARE moving the American Way( that's what I call it). Fortunately we are quite democratic in our own way.

Now since the old imperialism is done with the new imperialism is guised in the form of economic generators.

Things are changing fast but I wish we could learn from the west about what not to do and how not to do it.

But I guess we have to go through all that it takes to become a modernised and Urbane Country.

Thats the way it is.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
But (especially since we are approaching Earth Day) can the world really support 1 billion Chinese and Indian SUV-Driving, Gated Community Living people trying to live the (unsustainable) American lifestyle? Not that I would ever presume to claim that we in the west can try to deny Indians and Chinese self-determination (as if you guys would listen to us anyways). So, I guess my question is rhetorical. Still, a China where hundreds of millions of people are motorized-eek.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
BKM said:
But (especially since we are approaching Earth Day) can the world really support 1 billion Chinese and Indian SUV-Driving, Gated Community Living people trying to live the (unsustainable) American lifestyle? Not that I would ever presume to claim that we in the west can try to deny Indians and Chinese self-determination (as if you guys would listen to us anyways). So, I guess my question is rhetorical. Still, a China where hundreds of millions of people are motorized-eek.
Nova had a special on last night about this issue and global population trends. China's affluence is good for their economy but just about everything powered by coal. The auto industry there is a huge employer and large part of their economic success but auto emissions standards are way behind. Hopefully, as was the case in other developed nations people there will start demanding more pollution controls as things get worse.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/worldbalance/
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
BKM said:
But (especially since we are approaching Earth Day) can the world really support 1 billion Chinese and Indian SUV-Driving, Gated Community Living people trying to live the (unsustainable) American lifestyle? Not that I would ever presume to claim that we in the west can try to deny Indians and Chinese self-determination (as if you guys would listen to us anyways). So, I guess my question is rhetorical. Still, a China where hundreds of millions of people are motorized-eek.
Short answer: perhaps our Salvation shall lie in Sprawling to the Moon and Beyond. :)
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
Messages
496
Points
16
:)

Around 1996-97 period when I was studying Planning( in the thick of it) and was rather deep into Environmental Arguments( Kyoto, Istanbul and Rio) I questioned whether the west had any right to ban CFC coolants and specifcally the domestic refrigerator. Talking specifically of China I asked when now millions of Chinese( for that matter Indians too) could afford a fridge and have a better life and enjoy the material comforts (mostly inventions of the 'western' society).
I argued that NO. Either the west paid for the new non CFC technology and still ensure that the teeming millions get the benefits of an affordable fridge or the whole world pays the price( environmentally).
IN anycase the society within these countries( Both India and China) are willing to pay the price for technological advances. For them its an accepted package. For a society which is just getting the know and even afford something called the SUV/MUV or whatever it is the way to live for another century till the negative impacts are felt.

Therefore for people who see the situation on a global scale, the advent of modern technology (primarily invented in the Americas, Europe and the South East), these countries need to have indigenous ( not Indiagenous ;-) )methods to sort out their problems.
The 'west' need not feel guilty or responsible for the ill effects. The maximum the 'affluent' countries can do is to increase awareness about the side effects of this kind of growth.

I believe that when you cant make people in your own family understand your viewpoint( I am talking generally and symbolically here) then how can you convince the ' Developing Countries' to slow down?

I know that I have given some big statements and as usual I feel that even after a long message there's some important point that I have missed that could have been covered. Maybe in some time when Cyburbia can have virtual voice/talk forums then we can have lengthy discussions. Now what did I say... :p
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
I have mentioned before about the evolution of American sprawl. It has always been with us, just recently we have turned it into an art. Anyway, do not forget the role of easy credit in the sparwl milieu. If we had to pay cash for vehicles, if you needed 50% down for a house, you get the idea.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
mike gurnee said:
Anyway, do not forget the role of easy credit in the sparwl milieu. If we had to pay cash for vehicles, if you needed 50% down for a house, you get the idea.
Excellent point. Feasibly I could go out today and get a new house much larger (or more expensive) than I could afford with little to no money down on a low interest ARM. My question is what is going to happen when the rates go up and so do the ARMs? People are already way overextended (since that Tahoe is also low interest, little money down and quickly upside down, along with the TV, couch, etc.. :-S) are we headed for massive forclosures in the next 5 to 10 years when rates go up? Will these new 'cheap' built cookie cutter subdivions turn to blight? i think many will. I think the outer ring burbs will become the slums as this happens and the cities will continue to gentrify with smaller condo, apts, ect... and as the baby boom gen retires and moves out of their fist gen subs so their kids can abandon the vinly outer rings and head back to the more affordable brink 'old subdivions'.

Thoughts?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
H said:
Excellent point. Feasibly I could go out today and get a new house much larger (or more expensive) than I could afford with little to no money down on a low interest ARM. My question is what is going to happen when the rates go up and so do the ARMs? People are already way overextended (since that Tahoe is also low interest, little money down and quickly upside down, along with the TV, couch, etc.. :-S) are we headed for massive forclosures in the next 5 to 10 years when rates go up? Will these new 'cheap' built cookie cutter subdivions turn to blight? i think many will. I think the outer ring burbs will become the slums as this happens and the cities will continue to gentrify with smaller condo, apts, ect... and as the baby boom gen retires and moves out of their fist gen subs so their kids can abandon the vinly outer rings and head back to the more affordable brink 'old subdivions'.

Thoughts?
You are speaking of one of my biggest concerns, too H: What do we do with the neighborhoods of the 1960s, 70s (and even 80s) as they start to decline, with few cultural or economic amenities to support them. My town and my employer are at least somewhat "complete" communities with commercial and job bases-to a certain extent-but what about suburban "municipalities" that lack this balance?
 
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