Urbanizing the ‘Burbs

Cities have become cool, suburbs are anything but. This transformation over the past few decades has fully taken root, not only in the United States, but globally. Concerns over white-flight from our urban cores have become concerns over gentrification. The suburban business park and regional mall, once seen as staples of a bustling economy, have become vacant and rundown, while traditional downtowns have found new life.

Not only have cities once again regained their standing in the economic and social lives of Americans, cities are developing a new reputation as an environmentally preferable option to the suburbs. Suburbs were once thought to be green, with their landscaped parkways and enclaves of preserved nature. However, with new understanding of the deep rooted systems that support our cities and suburbs, it is apparent that cities impact the global environment less than the suburbs.

Suburban development has been firmly ensconced in the American landscape for sixty years, and continues today. These decades of suburban development create both a liability and an opportunity today. If these patterns of development continue, our economy will continue to suffer and our environment will be irreparably altered. However, redeveloping existing suburbs to address these economic and environmental concerns will enable a new wave of investment into our communities.
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