Bruegmann: Sprawl Is Natural And Is Part Of History

<p>Once considered "sprawl" by Londoners, the city's row houses now form the essence of the city. Are attacks of sprawl in the US built on "an extremely shaky foundation of class-based aesthetic assumptions and misinformation?"</p>
June 24, 2007, 11am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

"If sprawl is the outward spread of settlement at constantly lower densities without any overall plan, then London in the 19th century sprawled outward at a rate not surpassed since then by any American city."

London's neighborhoods of row houses, now widely considered to be the "very essence of central London", were "castigated... as ugly little boxes put up by greedy speculators willing to ruin the beautiful countryside in order to wrest the last penny out of every square inch of land" by the artistic and intellectual leaders of London's in the 19th century.

"Contrary to much accepted wisdom, sprawl in the U.S. is not accelerating. It is declining in the city and suburbs as average lot sizes are becoming smaller, and relatively few really affluent people are moving to the edge. This is especially true of the lowest-density cities of the American South and West. The Los Angeles urbanized area (the U.S. Census Bureau's functional definition of the city, which includes the city center and surrounding suburban areas) has become more than 25% denser over the last 50 years, making it the densest in the country."

..."Certainly sprawl has created some problems, just as every settlement pattern has. But the reason it has become the middle-class settlement pattern of choice is that it has given them much of the privacy, mobility and choice once enjoyed only by the wealthiest and most powerful."

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, June 17, 2007 in Forbes
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email