Revisiting the 'Edge City'

Lessons from Edge City, after the world changed again.
April 16, 2018, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Aimee Custis Photography

 coined the term Edge City with his 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, which Jake Blumgart writes revisits in a post for CityLab.

"For years, all across the country, stores, offices, and entertainment had been retreating into the suburban and exurban hinterlands where the middle class had decamped," explains Blumgart. The effect of these decades of migration amounted to the "suburbanization of everything."

Garreau's definition of an Edge City relied on statistics, explains Blumgart: "It’s a place that has at least 5 million square feet of leasable office space, 600,000 square feet of retail space, and a population that increases at 9 a.m. on weekdays. It’s perceived locally as a destination for work, shopping, entertainment, and housing. Finally, it sits on land that, 35 years prior, was primarily rural or residential." Garreau's primary example of an Edge City was Tyson's Corner, Virginia.

The book was wildly successful—reaching much-read status with planners and also finding wider popularity. Blumgart speaks with Garreau about the motivations and ideas that inspired the book (Garreau was far from sympathetic toward sprawl) and also examines the political and academic backlash against the book. Eventually Garreau also evolved his theory, saying that American's are "Santa Fe-ing the World," but a long term trend away from large, old cities.

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Published on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 in CityLab
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