Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
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Sense of Place

Seth Dixon's insight:

Kunstler 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. 

Question to Ponder: How should we design cities to create a strong sense of place?  What elements are necessary? 

Tagsurban, planning, place, architecture, suburbs, video.

L.Long's curator insight, November 20, 2015 7:04 PM

Culture of Place

Sally Egan's curator insight, November 22, 2015 5:28 PM

Provides great example of the concepts of Place and Lieveability.

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How Suburban Are Big American Cities?

How Suburban Are Big American Cities? | Geography Education |

"What, exactly, is a city? Technically, cities are legal designations that, under state laws, have specific public powers and functions. But many of the largest American cities — especially in the South and West — don’t feel like cities, at least not in the high-rise-and-subways, 'Sesame Street' sense. Large swaths of many big cities are residential neighborhoods of single-family homes, as car-dependent as any suburb.

Cities like Austin and Fort Worth in Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina, are big and growing quickly, but largely suburban. According to Census Bureau data released Thursday, the population of the country’s biggest cities (the 34 with at least 500,000 residents) grew 0.99 percent in 2014 — versus 0.88 percent for all metropolitan areas and 0.75 percent for the U.S. overall. But city growth isn’t the same as urban growth. Three cities of the largest 10 are more suburban than urban, based on our analysis of how people describe the neighborhoods where they live."

Tagsurban, suburbs, housingsprawlplanning, density.

Sammie Bryant's curator insight, May 27, 2015 12:07 AM

This article accurately depicts the difference between a normal city 50 years ago and a city today, as well as the continuing spread of suburbanization. For example, Austin, the capital of texas, a hustling, bustling always busy area, is predominantly suburban. As cities and countries continue to advance and develop and its citizens become more successful and family oriented, suburban homes for families will become more needed than something smaller, like condos or studio apartments. As the needs of the cities change, the structure of the city changes as well. This applies to our final unit of APHUG: Cities and Urban Land Use.

MsPerry's curator insight, May 27, 2015 9:29 AM


Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, May 27, 2015 10:43 AM

unit 7

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The ghastly tragedy of the suburbs

The ghastly tragedy of the suburbs | Geography Education |
In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Kunstler passionately 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. 

Question to Ponder: How should we design cities to create a strong sense of place?  What elements are necessary?  Warning: He uses some strong language.  

Tagsurban, planning architecture, suburbs, TED, video.

Kevin Barker's curator insight, January 21, 2015 9:02 AM

This could become something of a fixation for me.  Plano TX is seen on many levels of a great suburban city but here is one way it is lacking most.

Linda Denty's curator insight, February 3, 2015 5:41 PM
Strong language used in this!
Zeke Robinson's curator insight, May 26, 2015 9:23 PM

i disagree with this guy, for suburbs bring us close and save space and its good that we have them.

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GIS for home buyers

GIS for home buyers | Geography Education |
Whoa, check out Trulia Local - A visual way to explore crime, schools, home prices, and local data.


The map above was generated to display the areas within a 30 minute commute of Rhode Island College in Providence.  This site generates commuting maps and other layers that are especially pertinent for home buyers---schools, crime stats, property values and local amenities.  This is GIS data brought to the real estate shopping community, but consider this a project in the making.  One of the best exercises to get to know a place holistically is to shop for housing and make some locational analysis decisions.

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Big U.S. Cities Growing Faster than Suburbs

Big U.S. Cities Growing Faster than Suburbs | Geography Education |
For the first time in a century, most of America's largest cities are growing at a faster rate than their surrounding suburbs.


"As young adults seeking a foothold in the weak job market shun home-buying and stay put in bustling urban centers," this profoundly is changing the demographic processes that create our major urban areas.  "Driving the resurgence are young adults, who are delaying careers, marriage and having children amid persistently high unemployment. Burdened with college debt or toiling in temporary, lower-wage positions, they are spurning homeownership in the suburbs for shorter-term, no-strings-attached apartment living, public transit and proximity to potential jobs in larger cities."  With home ownership no longer the goal and the suburbs the destination of choice, how with this affect the urban structure of or major metropolitan areas? 

Kim Vignale's comment, July 30, 2012 10:33 PM
It is logical for many single people to live in urban areas due to job availability, convenience of location, and small affordable apartments. Established families resides in suburban areas because houses are bigger and land is vast for young children to grow up in. However, a typical college graduate would find it difficult to find employment right after college; once employed, wages are not high enough for these young adults to buy a house. I would find it more convenient to live in the city because public transportation is available and more jobs are offered in large cities. Once i get established with a career, it would be more logical to buy a house in the suburbs.
Seth Dixon's comment, August 2, 2012 2:39 PM
It is a logical shift in urban processes, especially when you consider that in the United States, fewer and fewer people are 1) getting married young and 2) having children. Both of these makes the suburbs less of an ideal spot young Americans that are leaving college and their parents homes.
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Urban Trees Reveal Income Inequality

Urban Trees Reveal Income Inequality | Geography Education |
Wealthy cities seem to have it all. Expansive, well-manicured parks. Fine dining. Renowned orchestras and theaters. More trees. Wait, trees?


I certainly wouldn't argue that trees create economic inequality, but there appears to be a strong correlation in between high income neighborhoods and large mature trees in cities throughout the world (for a scholarly reference from the Journal, Landscape and Urban Planning, see: ). Why is there such a connection? In terms of landscape analysis, what does this say about those who have created these environments? Why do societies value trees in cities? How does the presence of trees change the sense of place of a particular neighborhood? For more Google images that show the correlation between income and trees (and to share your own), see:

Donald Dane's comment, December 10, 2013 10:00 AM
this short article explains the evidence supporting tree to rich cities ratio. it goes to show that if I'm going to pay big bucks for location I would want the scenery to be beautiful hands down. they mention the per capita increase to tree ratio and how its only a dollar that influences such a high quantity of trees in city. bottom line is that it makes sense for the more trees in wealthier neighborhoods of the city because when your in the heart of the city you tend to see quantity of quality of homes and being jammed packed into small square footage doesn't leave much room for nature. but go just outside the city where the real estate is high and more spacious and you will find more trees the further and further from the center.
megan b clement's comment, December 16, 2013 1:04 AM
Like a previous article it explains how if viewing a neighborhood with lush grass and huge yards with landscaped grounds it is associated with big money. People pay top dollar for houses that have huge back yards and privacy of trees. You would not see yards like this is the city though so these neighborhoods on the outskirts of the citylines.
Shaun Scallan's curator insight, January 27, 2014 11:48 PM

Interesting the value, in the broadest sense, that trees can bring in an urban setting

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Radiant City

Radiant City | Geography Education |
In this feature length film Gary Burns, Canada's king of surreal comedy, joins journalist Jim Brown on an outing to the suburbs.


This 2006 documentary is a critical look at suburbia that has comments from suburbanites interspersed with planners, real estate agents, experts and urban academics. 

Chris St. Clair's comment, April 27, 2012 2:03 PM
I've showed this movie once in a while during the Urban unit and the kids enjoy it. "Edutainment"
Seth Dixon's comment, April 27, 2012 7:09 PM
It seems a mixture of vignettes, with some academic founding mixed in. Warning: There was one F-bomb in the movie.
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What Doesn't Stay in Vegas? Sprawl.

This NASA-produced timelapse video of Landsat data shows the spatial spread of the Las Vegas metropolitan area from 1975-2010.  These are not true color images, but false color that shows the near infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum as red in the image.  Geospatial technologies are once again, shown as invaluable in our analysis of the urban environment.   

Nicholas Rose's comment, September 4, 2012 12:06 PM
As I look at this video, I noticed that as the years go by there is more urban sprawl in Las Vegas. The reason is because more rich people live in Las Vegas and more hotels and casinos are built to increase the city's economic development. According to the NASA timelapse, the City of Las Vegas is increasing in size and population.
Daniel Lindahl's curator insight, May 25, 2015 1:55 PM

This article illustrates not only Las Vegas's sprawl, but also Vegas-style diffusion. By creating a time-lapse, a clear illustration of Vegas's diffusion is shown. 

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Chinatowns in Decline in Move to Suburbs

Chinatowns in Decline in Move to Suburbs | Geography Education |
WASHINGTON — America’s historic Chinatowns, home for a century to immigrants seeking social support and refuge from racism, are fading as rising living costs, jobs elsewhere and a desire for wider spaces lure Asian-Americans more than ever to the...


The geography of ethnic neighborhoods has changed as urbanization has changed within the United States.  This article, posted by the AAG, shows that most middle-class, second generation that are accultured into American society, gravitate towards the suburbs.  The 'older generation' with littled English skills coupled with the newly arrived to the country become those that remain behind in the urban centers.  How does this culturally impact Chinatown and Chinese-Americans?  Will Chinatowns become gentrified?  Are they already?  Where?   

Alison J. Garrow's curator insight, April 15, 2015 10:50 PM

Module Seven. 


In this post it talks about the people of Chinatown having to move to the suburbs. Towns that are filled with immigrants that came to American are asking to leave their homes for reasons that do not seem as valuable as them leaving homes they grew up in. I think that there are places that can take the place of Chinatown so that it does not have to be moved. These people will end up being spread out and not living comfortably next to one another. It is odd that another place could not of been asked to up and move a place where there were no immigrants. I feel that because they are immigrants that it does not matter to the people in charge of this project.  

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Public Spaces Worth Caring About... 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.   

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

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

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 | Geography Education |
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?

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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Dear smug urbanites, stop ridiculing the suburb I love

Dear smug urbanites, stop ridiculing the suburb I love | Geography Education |
I’m always disappointed that my urban acquaintances know very little of the suburbs surrounding their city. But I’m never more disappointed than when urbanites spout clichéd opinions about suburban living.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a interesting op-ed that defends suburban living when many critics of routinely argue that the suburbs symbolize what's wrong with American urbanism.  

Tags: neighborhoodsuburbs, op-ed.

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, October 9, 2015 4:53 PM

Perspective on suburban life 

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The steep costs of living so far apart from each other

The steep costs of living so far apart from each other | Geography Education |
In strictly economic terms, sprawl is inefficient. Spread people out, and it takes them longer to drive where they need to go, and it costs them more in gas money to get there. Disperse a few people over a lot of land, and that land is used inefficiently, too. Then give those people roads and sewers — you’d need a lot more of both to serve 20 households living over a square mile than 20 on the same block. And that's to say nothing of the costs of fire and police service when people live far apart.

These costs add up, in both private budgets and public ones. It’s a messy thought exercise to contemplate tallying them, akin to trying to calculate the productivity America wastes by sitting in traffic every year. How do you measure, for instance, the saved health care costs in a community where many people walk for transportation every day? How do you quantify the pleasure gained from a big yard that offsets any of these costs?

Tags: planning, sprawl, scale.

Dawn Haas Tache's curator insight, April 8, 2015 12:34 PM

APHG- HW Option 6


Cass Allan's curator insight, April 16, 2015 9:46 AM

good for urbanisation or liveability

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, June 27, 2015 12:01 AM

Affordability impacts on people's choices about where to live and in turn impacts on access to goods and services, community identity and social connectedness in many outlying suburbs

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Mental Maps

Mental Maps | Geography Education |

Tags: transportation, mapping, place.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This comic strip would be funnier if it weren't so true.  Studies have shown that children who are driven everywhere do not have as fully developed mental maps as children who walk through their neighborhoods or ride their bikes.  For some lesson plans on mental maps, click here.   

Gary Pascoa's comment, March 1, 2013 9:53 PM
Certainly guilty of this growing up. I have a photogenic memory when it comes to directions and getting around. I think it will only get worse in the future for kids with the advent of GPS who might not take the time to build up a solid understanding of their surroundings.
Conor McCloskey's comment, March 4, 2013 8:37 PM
Proud to say my mental maps are pretty accurate and so are my brothers, however I have two siblings that cannot say the same... I would definitely support the theory that walking through neighborhoods and riding bikes really helped to give me and my brother strong mental maps and geospatial awareness. Also, being a runner has also influenced my mental map making.
Michelle Fowler's curator insight, August 2, 2015 10:54 AM

This comic strip would be funnier if it weren't so true.  Studies have shown that children who are driven everywhere do not have as fully developed mental maps as children who walk through their neighborhoods or ride their bikes.  For some lesson plans on mental maps, click here.   

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Urban issues: Transportation and Density

Urban issues: Transportation and Density | Geography Education |
A map that has been making the rounds on the internet demonstrates how you can fit 7 major U.S. cities plus New York's most famous borough within Los Angeles city limits.


So Los Angeles is big, but, LA's spatial extent is in part due to it's history with transportation (ripped out the streetcars to let the automobile and freeway take over).  How do density and transportation affect cities? 

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The Grave Health Risks of Unwalkable Communities

The Grave Health Risks of Unwalkable Communities | Geography Education |
Our car-dependent lifestyle has led to a dramatic rise in obesity-related illnesses. But we can do something about it.


What does urban planning have to do with our health?  Plenty.  More walkable cities not surprisingly have citizens that are healthier and more fit.   

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America's romance with sprawl may be over

America's romance with sprawl may be over | Geography Education |
Three years after the recession officially ended, Census county population estimates show Americans are staying put or moving to cities.


The recession and foreclosure crisis really hurt many suburban families and the values of suburban homes.   This interactive map is helps students to notice the patterns that shape the changing demographic patterns connected to urbanization. 

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Population Growth in Metropolitan America Since 1980

Population Growth in Metropolitan America Since 1980 | Geography Education |
The twists and turns of metropolitan population growth are reviewed in William Frey’s examination of recently released Census Bureau data separating the bubble and bust years of the past decade.


Key urban demographic changes from 1980-2010:

--Metropolitan growth in both the Sun Belt and Snow Belt tapered in the 2000s, after accelerating in the 1990s.

--Growth slowed considerably during the latter part of the 2000s, especially in “bubble economy” metropolitan areas.

--Suburbs continued to grow more rapidly than cities in the 2000s, but growth rates for both types of places declined from their 1990s levels.

--Exurban and outer suburban counties experienced a population boom and bust in the 2000s.

--Hispanic dispersion to “new destination” metropolitan areas and suburbs dropped sharply in the late 2000s.

Rayden Duncan's curator insight, October 2, 2013 11:38 AM

This relates to my topic in that it shows how the united states populaction moved into urban settings.  It show cities are generally showing an increases in population. poeple would move to cities to find jobs or shorter commute.

Aleasha Reed's curator insight, October 2, 2013 12:16 PM

This is a map that shows the rate of change in the U.S., population wise. The most growth occured on the western and eastern coast's. There were a few places with a decreasing population.

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America's suburban future

America's suburban future | Geography Education |

"If you think American cities are sprawling now, just wait until 2025. In that time, the U.S. population will grow by 18 percent but the amount of developed land will increase 57 percent. Up to 9.2 percent of the lower 48 could be urbanized by then. And while that number includes cities and the infrastructure to support them—roads, rail, power lines, and so on—that number does not include land impacted by farming, logging, mining, or mineral extraction."

mderder's comment, February 19, 2012 5:16 PM
The US has already fallen behind most other first world nations in public transportation. The reliance on the automobile, which enabled the growth of our suburbs, needs to be slowly phased out, and major rail lines need to be laid to serve as the backbone for our future urban/suburban transportation network. Rail is FAR cheaper than cars. Cars, in a sensible future, will be thought of as transport for short trips. Hopefully we will be mainly electric with those 50 years from now as well. It is good for the environment and good for our pocketbook. Classic win/win.
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Urbanizing the Suburban Street

Urbanizing the Suburban Street | Geography Education |
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.

Via Lauren Moss
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NYTimes: The Death of the Fringe Suburb

NYTimes: The Death of the Fringe Suburb | Geography Education |
As demand for housing in walkable neighborhoods rises, we should be investing in carless transit options.


Here is an excellent article that ties the economic mortgage crisis with the urban geography of the United States.  This is a good piece to challenge students to think about how the organization of cities matter. 

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Poverty pervades the suburbs

Poverty pervades the suburbs | Geography Education |
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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