'Triumph of Suburbia' is a Far-Fetched Story

Joel Kotkin is on a roll in the past few weeks, making the case that the revival of cities and decline of suburbs is a fraud — but his argument ignores the facts, argues Robert Steuteville.

"Joel Kotkin is on a roll in the past few weeks, now making the case that the revival of cities and decline of suburbs is a fraud perpetrated by a long list of elites and urbanists including Edward Glaeser, Richard Florida, Alan Ehrenhalt, Christopher Leinberger, James Howard Kunstler, Peter Katz, and many others. Those he names should feel honored, because he traces what he calls 'a hate affair with suburbia' back to Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte."

"Mostly Kotkin ignores, or doesn't understand, that the issue is not single-family versus multifamily, or suburb versus city. It's not even higher density versus lower density," says Steuteville. "The issue is really walkable places versus auto-oriented places."

At Slate, Matthew Yglesias doesn't mince words in his response to an argument that Kotkin seems to make "every six months."

"Since he's written this article so many times and so many people have written the rebuttal to it, I'm sure he already knows what the rebuttal is and for some reasons doesn't care. But here goes. If people hate dense urban areas so much, why isn't Manhattan one of the cheapest places in America to buy a house? Why isn't San Francisco cheap? If people are voting with their feet for spraw, why is land in Georgetown so much more expensive than land in Georgia?"

Full Story: 'Triumph of suburbia' is a far-fetched story

Comments

Comments

Both are here to stay, with different roles

It is frankly possible to walk and chew gum at the same time, so we can save the vitriol. The suburbs are here to stay, and so are cities. Even if millenials as a cohort have a different preferences, they are probably not going to be earth shatteringly different as they age.. Somewhat, and with *some* concentrations in *some* locations, and as fertility rates drop there will surely be more single households as Klinenberg suggests in Going Solo, and these are more likely to stay in bigger cities. But so far there doesn't appear to be the basis for blanket decorations in either direction. Cities are doing better, but they are still doing a terrible job as a family home based on actual choices, not least, ironically, because they are so successful that prices are so high as to not make them generally attractive for families, all other things equal.

Case in point: San Francisco has about 13 percent of households with children. The Bay Area as a whole has 30. That difference hasn't moved much the past decade.

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