City/Suburb Relationship Doesn't Have to Be Zero-Sum

The suburbs are stereotyped as homogeneous, boring, cookie-cutter communities. But suburbs are evolving, according to this column from Tom Condon. Their relationship with cities is also changing -- and it can be good for both.
January 13, 2009, 11am PST | Nate Berg
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"Since the Ozzie and Harriet era, the suburbs have been changing and evolving. For example, all of the original Levittowns, the quintessential American suburbs, have seen virtually all of their houses remodeled, and have added multi-unit senior housing as residents have aged. Now, many suburbs have become "economic engines in their own right." On the other hand, for the first time in history, there are more poor people in the suburbs than in central cities."

"So whatever the distinctions between city and suburb were, they have long since blurred. 'It is no longer useful to talk about center city vs. suburbs,' Dunham-Jones and Williamson write. 'The 'suburbs' are behaving more and more like center cities, and metropolises embrace both as they become more polycentric.'"

"The authors suggest we stop thinking of city/suburbs as a zero-sum game, where a suburb's gain is the city's loss. Places where suburban "retrofits" are thriving, such as Atlanta, Denver and Washington, D.C., are also seeing center city revivals."

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Published on Monday, January 12, 2009 in The Hartford Courant
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