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Old 03-24-2012, 02:48 PM
 
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As an inhabitant of the suburbs of Los Angeles (namely, Irvine, California), I am proud of my city. It is only 220,000 people, but it is spread out among 70 square miles. It is renowned for its very high quality of life and superb urban planning. It is also a burgeoning, sprawling city, and is very aesthetic. Think of Singapore in suburb form, and that is Irvine!

The city is a college town, planned in the 1960s around the college, which is in the south. It is 5-15 miles inland, with hills in the northern and southern edges and a broad, flat valley in the middle. The roads are broad, well-lit, tree-lined, and mostly straight, although some areas have curvelinear roads. The vast majority have sidewalks and bike lanes as well as manicured landscaping. The houses can be redundant and cookie-cutter, but they are authentically European; one can get a glimpse of Provence, Catalan, or Tuscany. Some areas have artificial lakes with fountains, pedestrian bridges, and gazeboes. As for high rises, there is a decent, modern skyline of many new 15-20 storey high buildings. Billboards and overhead electrical lines are virtually nonexistent, and the landscaping and parks is so abundant that from afar, the city appears to be a forest. All of this is litter-free, well-maintained, and imacculate. There are no Wal-marts, 99 cents stores, or any discount store. Homeowners Associations dictate almost every neighborhood.

I challenge fellow forumers to find a sprawling city that has comparable charm. I know that there are many cities in the sunbelt that sprawl and are masterplanned. Which cities are just as aesthetic in Irvine? Please visit Irvine in Google Maps to compare!

My bet is that The Woodlands, near Houston, is a good competitor.
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:17 PM
 
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I used to work in Irvine. Don't know what's so special about it. It's the same sprawl you see everywhere else. Is there any other kind? Except Irvine appears to be perhaps even more sparsely populated and hyper-autocentric than the typical suburb. If you can imagine that. There's no public transit to speak of. Of course Orange County, CA is nothing but sprawl. So you won't find an urban center or urban core in the middle of all that sprawl. There's no urbanism to speak of at all. But there's plenty of strip malls, chains stores, office parks and fast food joints. Very sterile, snooze-inducing environment. Nothing but monotonous sprawl surrounded by more monotonous sprawl.
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:38 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haowen Wong View Post
The houses can be redundant and cookie-cutter, but they are authentically European; one can get a glimpse of Provence, Catalan, or Tuscany.
Authentic? Really? Going to be snarky here...

The imitation style houses remind me of the descriptions of LA from The Day of the Locust.

“Los Angeles makes the rest of California seem authentic”
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:14 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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While it's great to proud of your city, I don't see what's so special about Irvine, either. And a network of wide boulevards is a bit alien to me coming from the east coast. But I don't like autocentric sprawling areas; but here's what could be in some ways the best of sprawl...

Outer suburbs of Boston. You get an old town center where much of the shops (except for big box stores) are concentrated. Has character, pleasant to walk in. Outside, the density is often low, so low it's very easy to confuse it for being rural. So homes in a peaceful forested setting, with cute well-used downtown. Many of these downtowns have rail service to the nearby big city. Best of sprawl, then? Or a waste of land? With these huge lot sizes, land usage is enormous, with the lowest urban area density of any of the large northeast coastal urban areas.

The roads are mostly curved, following centuries old rural paths. Nothing is gridded, but neither is the city. The arterial road network is radial and rather jigsaw like; most roads lead to the nearby town center; rather than going mindlessly straight, the roads go logically to the nearest destination; this helps keep the town centers a destination point. Few roads are three laned; many suburban roads feel like two lane country roads designed in another era.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:52 PM
 
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Ahh, Irvine. The Twinkie of cities!
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Old 03-25-2012, 06:06 AM
 
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I quite like the Sprawl of Atlanta, it all seems to be hidden under a dense canopy of trees.

All South-Western US cities, particularly the desert ones, look dusty and ugly to me and the stucco fronted homes, often only single storey, look like glorified mud huts.
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Old 03-25-2012, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Paris
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^^
Yeah, Altanta, land use at its best!
http://img234.imageshack.us/img234/8...orama22cy6.jpg

@OP: How about Clifton Park, NY?
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Old 03-25-2012, 07:47 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rozenn View Post
^^
Yeah, Altanta, land use at its best!
http://img234.imageshack.us/img234/8...orama22cy6.jpg

@OP: How about Clifton Park, NY?
Boston looks a bit similar:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...on_Foliage.jpg

The outer suburbs of Boston and Atlanta have similar densities. But, I think since Massachusetts had more old rural villages to develop from, the commercial development doesn't feel as sprawly. This graph shows 30% of people in the Boston urban area live at densities similar to Atlanta, but the rest of the metro is very different:

We Alone on Earth: A Portrait of the City as a Squiggly Line
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Paris
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Interesting graphs. On the first, one can see that western cities one on side and the eastern cities on the other side share similar traits. The former have many residents living in middle-density neighborhoods, and very few in extreme sprawl and high-density districts. On the other hand, the slope for eastern cities is less steep. Looking at Google maps, it's clearly visible: West Coast cities have a rather uniform density and suburbs often end abruptly whereas for East Coast cities one sometimes has hard time pinpointing where the sprawl ends. Chicago somewhat lies in the middle, and it's not surprising considering its location. Atlanta is extreme, as it seems lacks a dense core but has east-coast-like outer suburbs and exurbs.

Boston suburbs seem very liveable, with the best of both worlds: leafy suburban lanes and walkable old towns linked by rail to the city. I guess they are on average quite expensive?
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:05 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rozenn View Post
Boston suburbs seem very liveable, with the best of both worlds: leafy suburban lanes and walkable old towns linked by rail to the city. I guess they are on average quite expensive?
Many quite expensive, the housing market price crash had little impact there. To make things worse, in the outer suburbs, many towns require large lot sizes so there's no space to build raising prices further. Both the city and suburbs also have a lot of high paying jobs raising the demand. Newer construction is often in spots that allow denser construction.

Many of the downtowns are hit or miss, some too tiny too practical, forcing one to drive to strip malls very far away. I much prefer inner suburbs; nicer downtowns, still leafy. Here's Waltham , and the houses outside the downtown look like this . Brookline is also very nice but urban ; some parts have quirky row homes , others rather green but. The central areas are busy looking . But even the denser parts look very green, more so that a lot of newer American suburbs that are less dense. This neighborhood of Belmont feels a bit less attractive, and you mostly don't get lawns in these suburbs, though you can in the newer parts. Here's a commercial district in Belmont.

Most of the suburbs I posted would be on the right side of that graph, denser than anything in Atlanta, close to the densest parts of western cities like Seattle or Las Vegas (but not the Bay Area or LA!). On a side note, these areas give Democrats some of the largest margins in the count for being very white suburbs. Obama won 81% of the vote in Brookline, and somewhere between 60-75% in neighboring towns. Did very well in Belmont, though that's also where Mitt Romney is from.

One of the bigger surprises I got from the chart was that Chicago was so different from New York. Growing up, I envisioned Chicago to be a smaller version of New York since it has lots of skyscrapers.

Last edited by nei; 03-26-2012 at 04:49 PM..
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