AP Human Geography Education
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Urbanizing the Suburban Street

Urbanizing the Suburban Street | AP Human Geography Education | Scoop.it
A community tries some relatively pain-free fixes to make its streets greener and more walkable...

 

One of the most challenging aspects of suburbs, and of the prescriptions for improving them, is the character of their roadways. Most of us take the poor design of our streets – the most visible part of most suburban communities, if you think about it – so much for granted that it never occurs to us that they actually could be made better for the community and for the environment.

Consider, for example, main "arterial" streets so wide that pedestrians can’t cross them, even if there is a reason to; little if any greenery to absorb water, heat, or provide a calming influence; or residential streets with no sidewalks.

This is where Montgomery County’s new street-scape initiative comes in. It has done some things right, including the preservation of much of its farmland – in part by channeling growth into the central districts of Bethesda and Silver Spring, both served by D.C.’s rail transit system, and more recently by encouraging walkable redevelopment along the notoriously sprawled-out Rockville Pike corridor.


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Stranded in suburbia: Why aren’t Americans moving to the city?

Stranded in suburbia: Why aren’t Americans moving to the city? | AP Human Geography Education | Scoop.it
It's going to take more than wishful thinking to convince Americans to move back to the urban core.

 

While some urban pundits have been projecting a decline of suburbia, the numbers haven't born that out.  How come?  What will that mean for society?  How does urban planning account for cultural and economic preferences?    


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Meagan Harpin's curator insight, September 12, 2013 10:02 PM

Because of lack of jobs in our economy today most college kids move back home with mom and dad after school. This means parents can move out of the suburbs if the so choose. Cities also have a bad rep, they are seen as violent and dirty and poverty filled and the schools in the cities arent always the best. All of these leave many families choosing suburbs first or leaving the cities for them. 

Amanda Morgan's curator insight, September 18, 2014 1:13 PM

I can relate to this topic as a college student who wants to live in a bigger city. I always wanted to live in Boston however the profession I am choosing will most likely not support the lifestyle I am seeking in a metropolitan area.  The rising costs of college make so many students can't leave their home state and move to urban settings, and then student loan payments with increasing interest rates cause many to stay in their suburbs.  It would be nearly possible for someone like myself, to live in a metropolitan area comfortably with a decent pay but student loans right after college.  I feel like many people in the lower/middle class suburbs are in this situation and cannot graduate to a level where they are financially stable enough to leave and enter the city.

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The Beginning of the End for Suburban America

The Beginning of the End for Suburban America | AP Human Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Beginning of the End for Suburban America...

 

A provocative title, but are our cities and urban settlement patterns shifting?  Is sprawl going to be curtailed by cultural, environmental and economic forces?


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The Kingdom Keepers's curator insight, February 10, 2014 10:10 AM

When suburban areas starting increasing, it had several advantages- Bigger homes, better education, a yard to call your own. These advantages are beginning to be shadowed by several factors that are actually pushing people out of these suburban areas and changing the urban pattern in our cities. Will people start to swarm in the central business district, or will rural areas reign? -Brooke

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, December 15, 2014 1:34 PM

This article shows how trends in energy consumption and the economy can affect geographies of development. After WWII, the United States hit an unprecedented economic boom. Large amounts of cheap oil combined with economic growth spurred the development of infrastructure and cities dependent on automobiles. Since people no longer had to live in the cities to work in them, they began developed outside of the city. Today, oil is becoming more and more expensive, which could mean the end of the age of the automobile. Since cities remain to be hubs of employment and business, people can no longer afford to drive long distances for their daily commutes. People are beginning to move into cities or along public transportation lines in order to more feasibly get to work. 

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, January 29, 2015 2:39 PM

Over the past 10-15 years, the suburbs grew dramatically, and have become less popular.  In the early 2000s it thrived because the economy was doing well, and technological advances were in hyper speed.  I was a bit shocked that it's slowed and that it's being reported that suburbs are coming to an end, but then it it started to make sense.  The unemployment rate was extremely high, as were gas prices.  It only makes sense that less people would be building or buying larger home with bigger cars and more appliances.  But, it was possibly better for our environment.  Less miles being driven means less pollution by cars, less electricity being used never hurts.  But now, gas prices have dropped again, and the unemployment rate has dropped as well. But, today we have so many alternatives to gasoline run cars and common electricity, that even if suburbs made a huge comeback, they wouldn't be the same as they were before.

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Public Spaces Worth Caring About...

http://www.ted.com In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good....

 

Kunstler impassionedly argues that American architecture and urban planning are not creating public places that encourage interaction and communal engagement.  We should create more distinct places that foster a sense of place that is 'worth fighting for,' as opposed to suburbia which he sees as emblematic of these problems.  How should we design cities to create a strong sense of place?  What elements are necessary?  Warning: He uses some strong language.   


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Mary Burke's comment, April 15, 2013 12:24 PM
I appreciate what this guy is saying. I wish we could build places worth caring about. We need more people like Mr Kunstler. But I don't things are as bleak as he depicts. He picked some of the ugliest places there are. We do need a sense of place. Right now we get that in our homes. I think what Mr Kunstler is talking about is a community based sense of place that could be created just with the kind of buildings we make in the space. Maybe we could create a friendly atmosphere with well designed buildings. We need to start somewhere to make people not so afraid of each other.
Kenny Dominguez's curator insight, December 12, 2013 12:44 AM

Everyone in the world should care about places if it is small or not known but a place has it own character that some people enjoy while other do not want to know about. Every place has it significance that many people have not noticed because they are blinded to it. People should really have an open mind when it comes down to experiencing new places and learn about its history or anything that you did not know about it.

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Poverty pervades the suburbs

Poverty pervades the suburbs | AP Human Geography Education | Scoop.it
More people in poverty live in America's suburbs than in cities or rural areas. And their numbers are multiplying fast, overwhelming social service agencies' ability to help them.

 

The socio-economic structure of our cities is changing as suburbs are increasingly becoming places of poverty.  The map highlights that the Central Valley of California is the worst region in regards to this trend. 


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