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Old 02-01-2014, 09:46 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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There was a thread on another forum that suggested the view of a definition of a suburb depended on what metro one was from. These two NYC region poster describe the view I've always been familiar with prior to this forum:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thundertubs View Post
Growing up in the NY metro area, a place where inner city neighborhoods occur frequently outside the main city, I've always had a non-literal definition of what is a city and what is a suburb. I think it has more to do with density, development patters, and type of housing and commercial streets than arbitrary municipality lines.

For instance, in North Jersey, I would never consider Paterson, Passaic, Hoboken, Hackensack, Perth Amboy, Union City, Bayonne, etc... to be suburbs. They are cities. Not the main city, but outlying cities, places made up of urban DNA. People who live in these places are urbanites who live in an inner city environment.

Same thing with other metros. I consider Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Everett to be part of inner city Boston, despite them being different municipalities.
or this

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Yeah, I think in the NYC area, "suburb" is usually not used in the literal sense, but in the built-form sense. For example, if you lived in SW Yonkers, or Hempstead, or Hoboken, you wouldn't say you lived in the suburbs.

That said, if you lived on the South Shore of Staten Island, you probably would say so, depending on context.

The NYC doesn't have the relatively "flat" urbanity gradient between city and suburb like in LA, but also doesn't have the stark and symmetric geographic urban-to-suburban gradient you get in Chicago. It's more like a large dense core surrounded by splotches of quite dense within an outer belt that is rather sparse.
decentralized Californian metros get a bit of that but for different reasons:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordo View Post
I get the literal meaning that Steely mentions, but both "suburban" and "urban" have so much cultural baggage associated with them that literal meanings are basically worthless now. From a Bay Area or Seattle cultural standpoint, you can't get much more urban than Berkeley.
Chicago is completely different:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
the word "suburb" is clearly used differently in different metropolitan arrangements. in chicagoland, "suburb" is used as a political word, it refers to any municipality in the chicagoland area that is separate from the city of chicago. the city is primary and everything else is lower than, or subordinate to, the city = sub-city = "suburb".

it has absolutely nothing to do with:

- built form
- density
- era of development
- proximity to the city core
- transit/pedestrian friendliness
- autocentricty
- job numbers
- etc.

and even evanston, with all of its density and transit and respectable pre-war urbanism, is a suburb in chicagoland. no one in chicago would ever refer to evanston as being anything other than a suburb. it's just a political word here.



in other metropolitan areas, "suburb" seems to be separated from its strict political meaning and takes on connotations of some of these other aspects urban development. the people who created the stupid ranking that started this thread clearly used "suburb" in the strictly political sense, the way it's used in chicagoland.
From my perspective I would think: why must you focus on the biggest city vs everything else? Couldn't there be multiple places that count as "city"? And then there's the fact that in local NYC speak, "the city" refers to Manhattan, more as a synoymn for center city / downtown region. I don't remember ever hearing the "Chicago" perspective until this forum.

and then there's this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonkeyRonin View Post
Isn't the built form sense the literal sense? I mean suburb - less urban.
Obviously ignores political boundaries, but he doesn't think they're part of the definition the same way SteelyDan thinks they're the only part of the definition.
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Old 02-01-2014, 01:59 PM
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Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Those are all good reasons to be concerned about public education. But as a childless person, what am I supposed to do?
Go to your local elementary school and volunteer your services as a crossing guard! (J/K)

At a minimum, find out which schools service your neighborhood, elementary, middle and high school. Read the news articles about your local schools.

I can tell you, very few people besides parents attend any activities at schools, but you might enjoy a HS play, concert or something. My spouse loves football, and we've gone to HS football games before and after we had kids in the schools.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
There was a thread on another forum that suggested the view of a definition of a suburb depended on what metro one was from.

Chicago is completely different:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
the word "suburb" is clearly used differently in different metropolitan arrangements. in chicagoland, "suburb" is used as a political word, it refers to any municipality in the chicagoland area that is separate from the city of chicago. the city is primary and everything else is lower than, or subordinate to, the city = sub-city = "suburb".

it has absolutely nothing to do with:

- built form
- density
- era of development
- proximity to the city core
- transit/pedestrian friendliness
- autocentricty
- job numbers
- etc.

and even evanston, with all of its density and transit and respectable pre-war urbanism, is a suburb in chicagoland. no one in chicago would ever refer to evanston as being anything other than a suburb. it's just a political word here.
From my perspective I would think: why must you focus on the biggest city vs everything else? Couldn't there be multiple places that count as "city"? And then there's the fact that in local NYC speak, "the city" refers to Manhattan, more as a synoymn for center city / downtown region. I don't remember ever hearing the "Chicago" perspective until this forum.
Steely Dan's definition is my definition. Aided and abetted by Denver being in its own county, the other cities are referred to as the suburbs. Even Aurora, with all its low-income areas, its common border with Denver, etc is always referred to as a suburb. And when you cross Colfax Avenue from Aurora to Denver, from Arapahoe County to Denver County, you are in the city. It's the same on the other side of the city. Edgewater, cute little blue collar burb that it is with a famous pizza parlor, shares a border with Denver (Sheridan Boulevard), but the west side is Edgewater in Jefferson County and the east side is Denver in Denver County.

When the Denver Public Library decided they would only serve Denver residents, they asked you for ID at the door. If you had an out of city address, you were denied entry. Didn't matter if you lived in a one-story ranch house with a three car garage in the city limits, or the same outside the city limits, the location of the house made all the difference. (This situation has been rectified by the Colorado legislature.)

Although some say they never heard of this definition until this forum, it seems that is not entirely correct. Many people will say they prefer some other definition, yet they talk derogatorily about "suburban schools", claim there is no public transit in the suburbs , that there are no cultural facilities in the suburbs, etc. Just what do they mean by "the suburbs" then?
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:36 AM
 
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In the Philadelphia area most people say "the City" to mean "the City of Philadelphia", "the Suburbs" generally means the 4 "suburban counties" west and north of Philadelphia, and "South Jersey" generally means the 3 suburban counties across the river.

If someone is talking about "urban areas" in the Delaware Valley they usually mean Philly, Camden, Wilmington, Chester and Trenton (and occasionally towns like Gloucester City, Norristown and Coatesville get thrown in there is well.)

Rowhomes and generally dense neighborhoods can be found all over the region, especially along the rivers and especially in Delaware and Camden Counties so most people recognize that parts of Philadelphia are more suburban in character than a lot of suburbs . . . to the point that a lot of people will include parts of Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia when they're talking about "the 'burbs". I guess I'm saying that people differentiate (at least implicitly) between "city" and "urban".

I'd say it's pretty close if not identical to the usage in the NYC area.

When I lived down south, where cities would just keep annexing any new development (and devour most of the county), the definition of "urban" wasn't really urban at all. It was distinctly suburban but with older, detached housing on lots smaller than a 1/2 acre and maybe with some nearby townhouse style developments and a shopping mall or strip mall or two. "Urban" was also used as a euphemism for "run down" and/or a ghetto.

In Australia thinking about the usage hurts my head. "Suburb" is just a substitute for "post code" so that everyone lives in a suburb even when they don't. People will refer to downtown as a suburb which brings about the oxymoronic "urban suburb" for the CBD and the dense, adjacent neighborhoods. Brisbane is very much like a sunbelt city in the US in that it has annexed most of the suburban areas around it. Melbourne and Sydney are much more like Boston or DC with a small central city surrounded by dozens of smaller municipalities. In Brisbane if you're trying to have a conversation about the municipality of Brisbane you can't say "the City" or even "the City of Brisbane" or people will think you're just talking about the downtown area. You have to say "Brisbane City Council" or "Local Government Area".

When people here ask me about where I used to live they'll say things like "what suburb did you live in?" And I used to say "No, I didn't live in the suburbs. I was in the city. " and then I realized that gave people the impression that I was living in some high rise downtown. So now I go for a more nuanced explanation.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:45 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
In the Philadelphia area most people say "the City" to mean "the City of Philadelphia", "the Suburbs" generally means the 4 "suburban counties" west and north of Philadelphia, and "South Jersey" generally means the 3 suburban counties across the river.

If someone is talking about "urban areas" in the Delaware Valley they usually mean Philly, Camden, Wilmington, Chester and Trenton (and occasionally towns like Gloucester City, Norristown and Coatesville get thrown in there is well.)

Rowhomes and generally dense neighborhoods can be found all over the region, especially along the rivers and especially in Delaware and Camden Counties so most people recognize that parts of Philadelphia are more suburban in character than a lot of suburbs . . . to the point that a lot of people will include parts of Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia when they're talking about "the 'burbs". I guess I'm saying that people differentiate (at least implicitly) between "city" and "urban".

I'd say it's pretty close if not identical to the usage in the NYC area.

When I lived down south, where cities would just keep annexing any new development (and devour most of the county), the definition of "urban" wasn't really urban at all. It was distinctly suburban but with older, detached housing on lots smaller than a 1/2 acre and maybe with some nearby townhouse style developments and a shopping mall or strip mall or two. "Urban" was also used as a euphemism for "run down" and/or a ghetto.

In Australia thinking about the usage hurts my head. "Suburb" is just a substitute for "post code" so that everyone lives in a suburb even when they don't. People will refer to downtown as a suburb which brings about the oxymoronic "urban suburb" for the CBD and the dense, adjacent neighborhoods. Brisbane is very much like a sunbelt city in the US in that it has annexed most of the suburban areas around it. Melbourne and Sydney are much more like Boston or DC with a small central city surrounded by dozens of smaller municipalities. In Brisbane if you're trying to have a conversation about the municipality of Brisbane you can't say "the City" or even "the City of Brisbane" or people will think you're just talking about the downtown area. You have to say "Brisbane City Council" or "Local Government Area".

When people here ask me about where I used to live they'll say things like "what suburb did you live in?" And I used to say "No, I didn't live in the suburbs. I was in the city. " and then I realized that gave people the impression that I was living in some high rise downtown. So now I go for a more nuanced explanation.
This may seem odd coming from me, but the bold actually makes a little sense. They're talking about a sub-unit of the city. Of course, that is not the standard usage in the US.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:10 AM
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:
Melbourne and Sydney are much more like Boston or DC with a small central city surrounded by dozens of smaller municipalities.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
This may seem odd coming from me, but the bold actually makes a little sense. They're talking about a sub-unit of the city. Of course, that is not the standard usage in the US.
Sydney and Melbourne is more extreme than Boston or DC. The City of Sydney has 169,000 people in a metro population of 4 million. From what I can tell, no uses Sydney to refer to just the City of Sydney, Sydney refers to anyplace in the metro. Suburb refers to a neighborhood in any municipality, not just the city itself. Sounds like the closest distinction you can get is inner suburbs vs outer suburbs there.

The Australian political arrangement sounds rather logical: why should there be one really big municipality near the older center of the metro area and then lots of tiny ones elsewhere? Shouldn't they all have about the same setup? There's a potential for funding inequalities with a broken up city in the US, as the poorest districts of a city would have trouble funding themselves if separate. And whichever district that got the CBD would be flush with money, especially if it was a centralized metro. So there'd need to some revenue sharing.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:22 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Sydney and Melbourne is more extreme than Boston or DC. The City of Sydney has 169,000 people in a metro population of 4 million. From what I can tell, no uses Sydney to refer to just the City of Sydney, Sydney refers to anyplace in the metro. Suburb refers to a neighborhood in any municipality, not just the city itself. Sounds like the closest distinction you can get is inner suburbs vs outer suburbs there.

The Australian political arrangement sounds rather logical: why should there be one really big municipality near the older center of the metro area and then lots of tiny ones elsewhere? Shouldn't they all have about the same setup? There's a potential for funding inequalities with a broken up city in the US, as the poorest districts of a city would have trouble funding themselves if separate. And whichever district that got the CBD would be flush with money, especially if it was a centralized metro. So there'd need to some revenue sharing.
I don't think drive carephilly means the cities are broken up into little units government wise. I think he means that suburb means "neighborhood". In which case, the definition of suburb used by many on this forum (someplace they don't like that has single family houses outside the downtown) doesn't apply, either.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:24 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 Katiana View Post
I don't think drive carephilly means the cities are broken up into little units government wise. I think he means that suburb means "neighborhood".
Suburb does mean "neighborhood" there. However, Australia, besides Brisbane, does not have a larger central city municipality in a metro (see the numbers I posted about Sydney). The City of Perth has 19,000 people, metro has 1.9 million.
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Old 02-02-2014, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
In my experience, there are three different ways the term suburb is used in the U.S. Briefly, they are as follows:

Not in the core city: Under this definition, a suburb is defined by being within a metro area dominated by a city, but not within whatever that city is. Everything from incorporated cities, towns, and unincorporated county land thus is defined as a suburb - even if the "suburb" is pretty urban itself (see Hoboken, or Cambridge). The flipside of this is all city neighborhoods are thus defined as urban, no matter what their built structure.

A "bedroom community:" Another way to look at suburbs is by commuting patterns. Traditional urban neighborhoods were walkable and mixed use, having both employment centers (factories, offices) as well as housing and commercial districts. Beginning with the rise of streetcars, people could work and live in different neighborhoods, which led to the rise of the first strictly residential (or residential with some commercial) areas. While modern-day employment has dispersed even further, meaning even in traditional walkable neighborhoods most people need to use some form of transit (driving or mass) to get to work, the legacy of the planning of the era remains. Thus under this definition some areas within a core city (both streetcar suburbs and later autocentric areas), would be suburban, whereas some areas outside of the core city (such as old independent mill towns) would not.

Autocentric post-WW2 development: The last definition tends to focus on the built aesthetic of suburbs during the phase that mass car ownership took off in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Thus things like cul-de-sacs, driveways, garages, and strip malls are associated with the suburbs. Conversely, the absence of such things may make an area "urban." Under this definition "streetcar suburbs" are not suburban. Still, virtually all cities have some neighborhoods developed post WW2, and in the South/West, the majority of the city is often of later vintage, meaning there are still numerous "suburbs in the city." As with the second example, in many metros (in the Northeast and Midwest) many of the first ring of municipalities near the core city might not meet the definition of suburb, and hence may be "urban."

Edit: I meant for there to be a poll, but somehow the box didn't get checked. Arrgh. Well, put in your two cents.

Edit again: Already moved to Urban Planning. I dunno why, since this doesn't deal with urban planning in particular. *sigh*
It isn't that complicated. A suburb is an area that is not in the city core, but adjacent to the city. Both Cleveland and Detroit have high-rise, dense suburbs, but they're still suburbs. Same goes for areas outside of Dallas and Houston. The height of buildings means nothing to me. Some would even go as far as to suggest that high-rise suburbs are not urban. Technically, the high-rise cities of Northern Virginia are still suburbs to Washington DC, in spite of the fact that these cities have buildings with 25 stories or more, whereas DC has height limits. The only exceptions would be Arlington and Alexandria, which used to be part of DC. But they still serve the purpose of that of a suburb, though they are technically, not a suburb. Another interesting example would be Columbus, OH, which annexed it's suburbs, and what were it's exurbs are now it's suburbs.

Suburbs are cities that exist within the same metropolitan area, but exist because of prior or ongoing economic ties to the city that is the center of said metropolitan area. Some suburbs grow up and become larger than their core cities; as if the case with Virginia Beach, which is much larger than Norfolk, the "city" in this case. Other suburbs stand no chance of that ever happening, as is the case in a city like New York or Chicago. But they're all suburbs. Suburb has become a pejorative on C-D, but there is nothing inherently wrong with suburbia, particularly when people are getting priced out of cities across America.

There is also this misconception that suburbia is somehow "anti-high rise", which there is little evidence of. It all depends on how quickly people move into that suburb, and how that suburb deals with the influx when it is land locked, same as the city.
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:00 PM
 
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A suburb does not need to border the Central City. Nor does it need to be in the same State. Some suburbs are not even incorporated.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:15 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
Suburb does mean "neighborhood" there. However, Australia, besides Brisbane, does not have a larger central city municipality in a metro (see the numbers I posted about Sydney). The City of Perth has 19,000 people, metro has 1.9 million.
From what I can see online, Perth was broken up into four municipalities in 1993. If it maintained itself under old boundaries, it would have over 117,000 people today. This is still remarkably small for a core city, but not quite as ridiculous.

Note that in Australia, local government is not responsible for police, fire protection, or schools - these are all done on the state/territorial level. Historically they were mainly concerned with "public works" through to the 1970s, although since they have expanded to cover virtually all of the features we associate with local government in the U.S. Still, as they are missing these services (which are often the largest in American local government) one has to look at the overall scope of control on the local level being quite limited compared to the U.S.
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