Cities and Suburbanization in the US
Before discussing the probable effects of anti-suburban policy, it is appropriate to consider the issue of
urban decay. Why is it that our central cities have declined so? Anti-suburbanists
Proponents of so-called "smart growth" suggest that the decline of the US central city is the result of suburbanization,
the automobile and highway construction. But suburbanization was well on its way in the 1950s, before any significant part of the
interstate highway system opened. Of course, as people have become more affluent, they have sought
new houses on larger lots, in pursuit of the American Dream. But there are other factors --- what some
have called "push factors."--- that have hastened the decline of the central cities. Examples include:
Even so, however, similar demographic trends have occurred in virtually all major cities in the developed world over the past 30 years --- dense central city areas are losing population to the more spacious suburbs.
Finally, as a new generation of mayors, such as New York's Rudi Guiliani, Indianapolis' Stephen Goldsmith and Chicago's Rich Daley have undertaken successful strategies to improve city services, reduce the crime rate and improve education. For the first time since World War II, the nation's largest historic central cities began to gain population again in the 1990s. New York reached its population peak, fully 100,000 above its previous high.
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