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Thread summary:

Lived in developing country outside of United States, seeking commentary on developing counties versus US cities in terms of population and affluence, inner city versus suburbs

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Old 01-10-2007, 03:23 PM
JPT JPT started this thread
 
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Hello all. I'm an American citizen, but I've only been back in the U.S. living here for a few years. The rest, I spent living in a major city in a developing country in a middle-class apartment building. As I peruse urban literature (an interest of mine), I'm beginning to suspect that there is a particular bias in the U.S. against renters in general, or those who live in manufactured housing, which is often consequently located on high density parcels. In the developing world, for those who don't know, development follows the opposite pattern it does for American cities (with the exception of recently revitalized downtown urban neighborhoods marketed to the hype single crowd. However, in the developing world, the affluent tend to live in the denser core areas, and the further one goes out, the more dilapidated the buildings become, until one reaches the periphery, or what Americans would call the suburbs, which are essentially composed of squatter cities - a typical example are the oft shown photos of the favellas in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I grew up in the center of the city, and thus I brought this mentality with me to the U.S. and was surprised to find that people seem to use equate urban with "poor" in this country, whereas the opposite is true in the so-called "third world." Any commentary?

Last edited by JPT; 01-10-2007 at 03:45 PM..
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Old 01-10-2007, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Happy wherever I am - Florida now
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That is because it is the American Dream to own your own home, not an apt, not a condo. We like having our own little kingdoms with garden, privacy, etal. Also because this country is so large and spread out in comparison to many others we are car oriented. Thus being outside the city center is the preference for many, save younger singles who may be trying to match up.

There's also that little problem of many inner cities being crime ridden.
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Old 01-10-2007, 05:22 PM
 
Location: Missouri
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Yes, sgoldie is right. The "American Dream" is to have your own house, on your own plot of land, with a white picket fence, a spouse, two children, and a dog. Maybe in a sense, owning property is one of the things people came to this country to do. The comparison you share is interesting.
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Old 01-10-2007, 08:33 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
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While in general the city/suburb dynamic is reversed in much of the world (i.e. the poor Parisian banlieues that were the site of the riots the other year), it is changing a bit in this country as well. There has been a great deal of regentrification in virtually every city across the nation and housing prices and development is creeping in in even the most blighted of cities. While the big house with the yard and the white picket fence in the suburbs is the quintessential American dream, many Americans are finding out that the dream is not for them. Two groups in particular: young people and retirees. Many young people who grew up in the low-density suburbs which sprouted for the most part after WWII, and really sped up in the 70s and 80s, loathe the suburbs they grew up in, finding them boring, homogenous and artificial and crave more vitality and entertainment and therefore will relocate to the city. That's to be expected as young people have been drawn to cities for work opportunities for some time now. However, the influx of retired adults into the nation's large cities is a somewhat new phenomenon. What's happening is that many adults raise their children in the suburbs where the schools are top-notch, and then a few years later, downscale and move into the city where they no longer have to deal with horrific commutes, have arts, culture and dining at their doorstep, can walk to the store, etc. Of course, this newfound desirability in our nation's cities is causing it's share of conflict, from longtime poorer residents feeling priced out of their homes, and also of a worry of the old inner city blight being pushed further into the suburbs to create a bizarre effect eventually of a wealthy city surrounded by poor inner suburbs and then wealthy exurbs.
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Old 01-10-2007, 09:09 PM
JPT JPT started this thread
 
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Originally Posted by dullnboring View Post
inner city blight being pushed further into the suburbs to create a bizarre effect eventually of a wealthy city surrounded by poor inner suburbs and then wealthy exurbs.
[/b]

Interesting. That sounds hauntingly famiilar to what's happening/has happenend in the Los Angeles metro area. I've never been there, but from some of the pictures I've seen, it made my head spin, because it looked exactly like some of the neighborhoods in the city in which I grew up.

I wonder if we can expect this to happen in every major American city with a sizeable immigrant population.
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Old 01-10-2007, 10:41 PM
 
Location: Tucson, AZ
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JPT, good topic for discussion here. I have lived in several parts of the US, Europe and South America and I can relate to your thoughts about this flip flop in the way cities are set up in the US vs. elsewhere. I live about 45 miles south of downtown LA and go there once in awhile for business but not for many other purposes. Compared to other major cities in the US, downtown LA is not a destination for people in the metro area to go for entertainment (except Staples Center), dining or shopping, especially after dark. Nothing even close to night time crowds in central city areas of NYC, Chicago, SF, Seattle. LA downtown streets are pretty empty after 6 pm, sidewalks too except for the homeless that sleep there. I can't fathom why all kinds of upscale loft condo projects are under construction around the W. 7th St area - it would feel like living behind the castle walls to me.

Here's my take on why the central cities in many other countries attract a high percentage of higher income people. Obviously it starts with the higher paying jobs in the central city areas. Many countries don't have great transportation options to allow people to reach the central cities from far away in a reasonable amount of time. So the only option is to live fairly close to the central city so as to not waste a lot of time getting to and from work. If things are going real well, a weekend / vacation house in the countryside becomes the ticket to escape the city and enjoy the outdoors every so often.
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Old 01-11-2007, 08:57 AM
j33
 
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Interesting discussion. I see this a lot too in Chicago (the a lot of the inner ring burbs and outer areas of the city are poorer but the ex-urbs are wealthy and the areas close to downtown are wealthy). I've been an apartment dweller, and a renter, for 15 years as an adult (and a few years when I was a child) and it has never really bothered me. But from what I gather, that is not the prevailing mood of the country.
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Old 01-11-2007, 05:28 PM
 
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Most of the comments on this subject are right on the money, but a glaring event is not mentioned which precipitated the transition from inner-city wealth to inner-city blight - busing. When busing was declared necessary by the federal courts in the 70s, whites voted with their feet. Rather than have their kids buses out of their own neighborhoods to poorer ones across town in a futile quest for social engineering, they simply pulled them out of the system. Those who could afford to leave, did. Those who couldn't, stayed. The result after many years was the busing of minority kids from one poor neighborhood to another with no purpose. It has mostly been discontinued but the effect still remains in many places.

As long as cities do not offer excellent public schools to families, the wealthier middle class people will move to a suburb with high taxes but great schools. Most families living in 'the city' send their kids to private schools, which means they are de facto wealthy individuals. They also see to it that city property taxes are not as high as those in the 'burbs because of this.
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Old 01-11-2007, 09:29 PM
JPT JPT started this thread
 
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The last post brings up a very interesting point. Anyone feel free to correct me if this sounds too un-PC, but let's suppose that busing/integration never happened in this country. What would our cities look like as a result? Would suburban sprawl decried by so many planners these days exist as we know it? Are lower quality schools not the main reason why so many people left the central U.S. city?
I came across another blog written from the perspective of a German immigrant to the U.S. It is interesting to compare the German school system to the U.S. one. Here is what this person had to say:

"This is, however, in my view the one crucial difference to the US which might explain why the mixing is still there in Germany and why suburbia is so pervasive in the US: It is possibly for the very same reason why American cities were mixed until 1954.
In Germany, schools are segmented by merit. After mandatory elementary school (Grade 1-4), each child in Germany is assessed on its academic potential at age 9 and then send to either "Main School" (to become a craftsman), "Real School" (to become most likely a very skilled worker) or to "Gymnasium" which is in essence a public (!) prep school with grade 5-13 whose graduates at age 19 then go to University.
In conservative states (Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg), 40-50% go to Main School, 20-25% to Real School and 20-30% to Gymnasium (before 1963 it was 5%).
In left-wing states (notoriously Bremen and Berlin), 60% go to Gymnasium which has, of course, caused a collapse in quality. (German parents take great care to live outside the city-state of Bremen to take residence in either near-by Lower Saxony or Schleswig-Holstein - a rare example of suburbia behavior similar to the US)."

For the full blog<http://www.amazon.com/Home-Nowhere-Remaking-Everyday-Century/dp/0684837374/ref=pd_ybh_a_12/105-6611198-7730029>

This is really interesting stuff in my opinion, and not without merit, although it would never fly because it flies in the face of the civil rights movement.
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Old 01-12-2007, 06:27 AM
j33
 
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Originally Posted by ExNYC View Post
As long as cities do not offer excellent public schools to families, the wealthier middle class people will move to a suburb with high taxes but great schools. Most families living in 'the city' send their kids to private schools, which means they are de facto wealthy individuals. They also see to it that city property taxes are not as high as those in the 'burbs because of this.
This is so true. The problem of the city is that the schools often leave much to be desired, and most people with children, even if they want to stay in the city, cannot afford private schools. I have friends that work for the city and as such, as a condition of their job, must live in the city limits. I know they are both concerned about when they have children, and how things are going to go when the child is old enough to go to school. If the cities could fix their schools, I think that a lot of people would go back to them. But until that happens, the dynamic of the the childless middle class, the wealthy who can afford private schools, and the urban poor with children will probably make up the bulk of city population.

I'm in the childless middle/lower middle class portion of the population who would probably struggle to live in the suburbs financially (when I've looked at rent out in the burbs, the cost of apartments were just as high, if not higher than any rent I've paid in the city), but lives confortably in the city because I don't need to have a car, etc.
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