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Old 01-29-2011, 04:58 PM
 
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Greetings:

I'm a university professor teaching a course on Urban America and will be having my students spend a lot of time here. In my own browsing, I've been trying to determine how the term "neighborhood" is defined, or maybe what I'm asking is who does the defining? The idea "neighborhood" seems to been something quite different in Denver than it does in San Francisco, where there are a couple of neighborhoods with no population. Thanks very much for any information you can give me about this.

Mike

Last edited by amike401; 01-29-2011 at 04:59 PM.. Reason: misspelling
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Old 01-29-2011, 05:35 PM
 
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That's a very good and thought provoking question.

A "neighborhood" to one person may be a "town" to yet another. It's one of those vaguely defined terms that varies widely depending on who is using it. I've heard many people refer to a suburban bedroom community tied together by a commonly used shopping/business district and covering as much as several square miles referred to as a "neighborhood" in newspapers and other places. But the same area could be said to be made up of several dozen neighborhoods if each district and subdivision is taken into account. And to someone not old enough to drive, the later rings especially true.

IMHO, a neighborhood is an area tied together by the age and/or architecture of the houses, the function or unifying combination of functions of a particular area, or the demographics of an area which stand out in some way from the surrounding areas. I also believe that to truly be a "neighborhood" It should be an area no larger than what a typical person can easily walk.

And as far as the way neighborhoods are defined on the City-Data website it's self, it seems to follow official designations, even if many of those have been left out.

Last edited by Cthulhu7; 01-29-2011 at 05:46 PM..
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Old 01-30-2011, 12:01 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,832,670 times
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Generally, I use the term "neighborhood" to mean a relatively small area where most of the properties have something in common. The size of a neighborhood can vary depending on what they have in common. A "fashionable neighborhood" for example, might be fairly large. A "neighborhood meeting" probably refers to the people living within a few blocks of each other.

Two words that I really see changing in definition is "town" and "city."

Here in northern Virginia, we have very few incorporated areas. Yet you here people talking about our "cities" or towns" even though the communities they're discussing aren't incorporated. The reason is these communities are now highly populated, they're often dense, they often have some form of self government, and they have distinct boundaries. They provide many services and essentially function as if they had incorporated. I think they're following the "if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, you can call it a duck" theory.

I try to use the word "community" but often find myself talking about Northern Virginia's "towns" or "cities" too. It's just easier, and I suspect that in time those words will not mean an incorporated municipality, but instead will be used more generally.

IMO incorporation is a quaint idea that's rarely necessary these days and will eventually go by the wayside. Therefore, it's not really an important part of the definition anymore.
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