U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 01-06-2014, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,416 posts, read 11,920,328 times
Reputation: 10536

Advertisements

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*

Last edited by eschaton; 01-06-2014 at 09:54 AM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 01-06-2014, 10:54 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 18 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,996 posts, read 102,568,112 times
Reputation: 33059
Definition #1. This is the only definition that can take in old "streetcar suburbs", post WW II suburbs (some of which are close to 70 years old now, BTW), and all other forms of suburban living.

Re: #2, it has not been common for some time for all employment to be in the center city, nor has it EVER been common for employment to be interspersed with residential, with a few exceptions. Even in factory towns, the factories are placed at the edge of town, or in some way separated from housing, especially any housing considered "desirable".

#3 is what many people on this forum seem to mean when they say "suburb", but even the oldest of the western cities have suburban areas that predate WW II.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-06-2014, 12:36 PM
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
45,987 posts, read 41,947,535 times
Reputation: 14805
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post

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*
Anything about density or suburbs (besides which city has nicer suburbs) gets moved out of general US to urban planning. We already have a thread exactly like this so I'm going to move it to that one.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-06-2014, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,416 posts, read 11,920,328 times
Reputation: 10536
Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Anything about density or suburbs (besides which city has nicer suburbs) gets moved out of general US to urban planning. We already have a thread exactly like this so I'm going to move it to that one.
Fair enough. I had hoped to get a broader range of opinion besides the "usual suspects" though. One would presume people who post on this subforum would have more detailed ideas than elsewhere.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-06-2014, 12:43 PM
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
45,987 posts, read 41,947,535 times
Reputation: 14805
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Re: #2, it has not been common for some time for all employment to be in the center city, nor has it EVER been common for employment to be interspersed with residential, with a few exceptions. Even in factory towns, the factories are placed at the edge of town, or in some way separated from housing, especially any housing considered "desirable".
Depends what type of employment. But before the late 19th century, separation was small and employment was rather mixed. There was no transportation (for the masses) other than how far one could walk on foot. For a factory/other industrial neighborhood*, the usual seemed to be to have the factories on the edge of the neighborhood. You can also factories in the center city. A large section of Midtown Manhattan consisted (a few still remain) of garment factories, and many other cities had warehouses and factories near downtown.

*Warehouses and ports count as industrial without being factories.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-06-2014, 04:52 PM
 
9,520 posts, read 14,823,688 times
Reputation: 9769
It's really hard to make a formal definition fit without violating some strongly-held intuition or requiring a lot of data. For example, calling Hoboken a suburb now makes some sense, but for most of its history it was a small but independent port city in its own right.

The third definition makes very little sense. There are plenty of streetcar and train suburbs which are easily recognizable as suburban in form. And there's a wide variety of post-WWII auto suburbs. And there are a huge number of suburbs with characteristics of multiple eras. If you want to discuss post-WWII greenfield planned communities like the Levittowns or Daly City, CA or Columbia, MD , say so; you can't just say "suburb".
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-06-2014, 05:23 PM
 
Location: Richmond/Philadelphia/Brooklyn
1,263 posts, read 1,272,910 times
Reputation: 741
I would say that there are actually 4-5 types of suburbs
-Streetcar suburbs (Victorian Era-WWI) which are usually inside of the city, and usually built up by WWI usually built in Victorian (Queen Anne) styles, in some cases, they are within walking distance of the city center
-interwar suburbs (1920s suburbs), suburbs of this interwar period usually built in Colonial, and Bungalow styles, could still be in the city, but more around the edge
-Post WWII suburbs (1940s-70s) these tend to share some characteristics of the prior and following suburbs. They are either laid out on a grid, or on a sort of curvy road grid (not quite cul-de-sacs yet). usually they tend to be mass produced ranchers, or cape cods. These suburbs tend to show some decline in recent years, as their commercial areas (usually strip malls) empty out. Lastly, they are usually completely out of the city except for some places such as Dallas, Houston, Charlotte
-Postmodern Suburbs (1970-) These are what most people would think of as a modern suburb (at least before the recession), usually laid out in a sort of jumbled network of cul-de-sacs, Shopping malls, office parks, etc. The houses tend to be a sort of discombobulated jumble of add-ons and wings with low quality construction (McMansions). They also lack almost any transit at all except for a few cases with regional rail, or express bus services that often service the previous two.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-06-2014, 05:59 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 18 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,996 posts, read 102,568,112 times
Reputation: 33059
Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Depends what type of employment. But before the late 19th century, separation was small and employment was rather mixed. There was no transportation (for the masses) other than how far one could walk on foot. For a factory/other industrial neighborhood*, the usual seemed to be to have the factories on the edge of the neighborhood. You can also factories in the center city. A large section of Midtown Manhattan consisted (a few still remain) of garment factories, and many other cities had warehouses and factories near downtown.

*Warehouses and ports count as industrial without being factories.
The industrial revolution did not start in the US until the beginning of the 19th century. What Year Did the Industrial Revolution Start? - Ask.com
It's not surprising that once it got underway, it became apparent that it wasn't cool to live next door to a factory. My experience with factories is more the heavy industry stuff such as steel mills.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-06-2014, 06:01 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 18 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,996 posts, read 102,568,112 times
Reputation: 33059
Quote:
Originally Posted by pantin23 View Post
I would say that there are actually 4-5 types of suburbs
-Streetcar suburbs (Victorian Era-WWI) which are usually inside of the city, and usually built up by WWI usually built in Victorian (Queen Anne) styles, in some cases, they are within walking distance of the city center
-interwar suburbs (1920s suburbs), suburbs of this interwar period usually built in Colonial, and Bungalow styles, could still be in the city, but more around the edge
-Post WWII suburbs (1940s-70s) these tend to share some characteristics of the prior and following suburbs. They are either laid out on a grid, or on a sort of curvy road grid (not quite cul-de-sacs yet). usually they tend to be mass produced ranchers, or cape cods. These suburbs tend to show some decline in recent years, as their commercial areas (usually strip malls) empty out. Lastly, they are usually completely out of the city except for some places such as Dallas, Houston, Charlotte
-Postmodern Suburbs (1970-) These are what most people would think of as a modern suburb (at least before the recession), usually laid out in a sort of jumbled network of cul-de-sacs, Shopping malls, office parks, etc. The houses tend to be a sort of discombobulated jumble of add-ons and wings with low quality construction (McMansions). They also lack almost any transit at all except for a few cases with regional rail, or express bus services that often service the previous two.
Groundhog Day alert!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-06-2014, 06:30 PM
 
Location: South Hampton Roads
203 posts, read 262,323 times
Reputation: 363
Quote:
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*
To me, suburb means at least 10 miles outside main city limits... it also means things culturally that I don't care for... lol.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top