Oil Prices Aren't the Only Reason Sprawl is Dying

<p>In this column, Richard Florida argues the decline in the popularity of suburbs is not just a product of rising oil prices, but a result of a new "spatial fix" that is reorganizing how and where people live their lives.</p>
July 18, 2008, 10am PDT | Nate Berg
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"One of the few things increasing as fast as the price of oil lately has been the amount of commentary linking higher energy costs to the death of suburbia. Clearly, higher gas prices have affected where people want – or can afford – to live. Just as the demand for SUVs plummets and consumers have finally begun to see the point of hybrids, people are turning away from sprawling exurbs toward urban neighbourhoods and inner suburbs."

"But what's happening here goes a lot deeper than the end of cheap oil. We are now passing through the early development of a wholly new geographic order – what geographers call "the spatial fix" – of which the move back toward the city is just one part."

"Suburbanization was the spatial fix for the industrial age – the geographic expression of mass production. Low-cost mortgages, massive highway systems and suburban infrastructure projects fueled the industrial engine of postwar capitalism, propelling demand for cars, appliances and all sorts of industrial goods."

"The creative economy is giving rise to a new spatial fix and a very different geography – the contours of which are only now emerging."

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Published on Friday, July 11, 2008 in The Globe and Mail
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