World Wide Wednesday: Is smart growth the future of American cities?

Each week we will be focusing on blogs from around the world dealing specifically with urban environments. We’ll be on the lookout for websites outside the country that approach themes related to urban experiences and issues.

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• According to a CNN report the American urban landscape is undergoing a transformation–sprawling suburbs are on their way out and sustainable, urban-centric development is on its way in. The article looks a five American cities exemplary of the ‘new urban century’ that will usher in improved transit, more green space and vibrant downtown districts.

• The CNN report claims are being echoed by a recent U.S. EPA study that suggests redevelopment of urban centers is taking place at a significantly higher level then development on the periphery. As reported by the New York Times the study–titled “Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions”–suggests a “fundamental shift has begun in the [American] real estate market”.

• But over on New Geography blog these kinds of claims are being questioned and refuted. Aaron M. Renn argues that “triumphalist rhetoric” that smart growth and transit oriented development has come to America is based on false premises. This preemptive optimism is the result of a tendency to focus on new development in central cities and not the people who live there. Assessing population trends in Midwest cities Renn finds that, in fact, city cores continue to lose population to the outskirts.

• has compiled a list of  America’s 50 top bike-friendly cities. The inclusion of an interactive map shows the geographical diversity of the country’s bike-cities and lets users quickly access any of the cities’ bike states.

photo of light rail Charlotte, North Carolina from Justin Ruckman


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