Older Suburbs: Crabgrass Slums or New Urban Frontier?

Older Suburbs: Crabgrass Slums or New Urban Frontier?

Since the 1950s, suburbia has represented middle-class success and the fulfillment of the “American dream.” More than three-quarters of America’s new population growth has occurred in the suburbs. Indeed, more than half of all Americans now live in suburbs, a higher proportion than any other industrialized nation. More than 80 percent of all demand for office space and new jobs occurs in the suburbs. Between 1988 and 1998, office space in suburbia grew 120 percent, eight times the rate in traditional center cities.
Recently, however, older suburbs-like the urban core before them-appear to be the victims of an everexpanding metropolitan periphery that lures away residents, workers, and high-tech companies critical to growth in the new information age. In response to this perceived pattern of decay and decline, pundits tout regional government-oriented approaches as the solution.
Although parts of this analysis bear some truth, the older suburb, or “midopolis,” is in fact evolving and, in many cases, thriving. These communities are far more diverse than commonly perceived and, while some are clearly in decline, many are thriving, both demographically and economically. Indeed, in many ways, the rebirth of the suburban community-like the earlier rebirth of the urban core itself-testifies to the changing nature of the new economy and the remarkable ability of people to find new uses for older things.

Joel Kotkin

Reason Foundation

October 2001

I didn't find this helpful.This was helpful. Please let us know if you found this article helpful.
By |2018-01-01T00:00:00-08:00January 1st, 2018|Efficiency/Growth, Land Use Regulation, Reference|