Definition of New Urbanim & Suburbanization

Wikipedia defines New Urbanism as “an urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types.  It arose in the United States in the eary 1980’s, and has gradually continued to reform many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use stragegies. 

New Urbanism is strongly influenced by urban design standards that were prominent until the meteoric rise of the automobile in the mid-20th century; it encompasses principles such as traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD).  It is also closely related to Regionalism, Environmentalism, and the broader concept of smart growth.  The movement also includes a more pedestrian-oriented variant known as New Pedestrianism, which has its origins ina a 1929 planned community in Radburn, New Jersey.

The organizing body for New Urbanism is the Congress for the New Urbanism, founded in 1993.  Its foundational text is the Charter of the New Urbanism, which says:

                We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles:  neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian  and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice. 


Wikipedia defines suburbanizaion as “a term used to describe the growth of areas on the fringes of major cities.  It is one of the many causes of the increase in urban sprawl.  Many residents of metropolitan regions work within the central urban area, choosing instead to liven in satellite communities called suburbs and commute to work via automobile or mass transit.  Others have taken advantage of technological advances to work from their homes, and chose to do so in an environment they consider more pleasant than the city.  These processes often occur in more economically developed countries, especially the U. S., which is believed to be the first country in which the majority of the population lives in the suburbs, rather than in the cities or in rural areas.  Proponents of containing urban sprawl argue that sprawl leads to urban decay and a concentration of lower income residents in the inner city.” 

It looks to me that New Urbanism, based on its definition and the definition of Suburbanization, can actually be a form of suburban sprawl.  It just takes a different form than than typical suburban growth.  Whether it is a New Urbanism project or a typical Suburban type project that seperates uses, if it occurs on the fringes of a city it is still suburbanization.

What are your thoughts about comparing the two definitions?


About George Baker III

Commercial Real Estate agent, investor and developer.
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