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I have an interesting question, What has the Federal Government done to facilitate sprwal from WW2 to present? I know they used heavy subsidation to acheive todays conditions, but I'd like more information on what they did and when. Why did this kill so many urban cores throught the rust belt? Anyone's input is greatly appreciated. Feel free to post any info you have inyour head or links to papers on this subject. Thanks Guys!
 

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I don't know for the US but in EU sprawl started around 1840 with trains and trams. The automobile increased the speed of suburbanisation later. So, I'd guess you can include the building of freeways as being federal subsidies. As far as I know the US railroads weren't meant to connect the town centre and neighbouring settlements.
 

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It's important to keep things in perspective. The main reason urban cores throughout the "Rust Belt" were abandoned is basically because they were awful places to live. Forget the picturesque European villages and tidy New England hamlets. There is no "golden urban past" when the streets of downtown Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit were sunny, well-scrubbed, cheerful happy places with neatly manicured gardens and quaint, friendly stores, enjoyed daily by its sophisticated urban masses. There were a few blocks where the wealthiest of wealthy residents lived, and the rest frankly sucked. Go hunt down someone who's 90 or a hundred years old and ask them how nice it was to live in a compact, urban core just blocks from steel mills, smelting plants, and factories dumping pollution into the rivers & lakes and belching black smoke into the sky 24/7.

For that matter, hunt down a 90 year old Manhattan resident, and ask them why people weren't building trendy, upscale lofts in the slaughterhouse/meatpacking district of Manhattan, or Hell's Kitchen, or most of lower Manhattan. Or, head across the Atlantic, and ask an elderly London resident why nobody lived in the Docklands until very, VERY recently.

There's an easy answer why Americans fled cities at the first opportunity: life there utterly sucked for most people. Norman Rockwell's quaint urban America was a fantasy, and people today believe it existed because there's nobody old enough to remember that things were never even close to being that good. Normal Rockwell and his peers depicted an America bearing about as much resemblance to reality as "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Dallas". Or, for that matter, "Miami Vice" (you know, where cops drive sports cars and seem to have more money than the drug dealers they bust, and everyone lives in South Beach and has a tan...)

At its best, city living can be wonderful. But the truth is, 99% of the people who intentionally move to urban cores NOW from suburbia have incomes and lifestyles that only the wealthiest of wealthy city dwellers could have even fantasized about a century ago. For just about everyone else -- forced to live in the city by necessity -- the quality of life wasn't a whole lot better than it is in most working-class inner-ring suburbs today. And make no mistake... part of the reason why Americans who leave suburbia to move to urban cores NOW can actually afford to live the way they do is because everyone else moved to suburbia and made room for them there.

As for government policies, I'd say Rural Electrification and highway construction are the two obvious ones. Civil Defense strategies of encouraging people to disperse across large areas to minimize fatalities during a nuclear war come to mind, too. Not to mention VA and FHA loans that made it possible for non-wealthy people to afford to buy their own homes, partly justified by the belief that widespread home ownership was an effective way of nipping communist and socialist leanings in the bud. It's easy for voters in a city where nearly everyone rents to vote to increase property taxes to fund social programs, especially if most of the renters live in government-provided housing and don't have to bear the costs of increased taxation anyway... it's next to impossible to raise property taxes in cities where nearly everyone is a homeowner and will directly feel the impact of every last cent.
 

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^ That's a very well-considered post. In a way, sprawl has given urban cores a new lease on life by allowing cities to "breathe" a bit.

And even those "quaint" European villages fall under that system of evolution. When all of the city's poor live within a square mile of its center, you don't see many high-end shopping districts popping up on Main Street.
 

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lol. I actually think you have it a bit backwards. The condition in the DENSE Northeastern Cities was horrible and everyone was crammed into tennament buildings and tiny apartments. But in the Great Lakes, the majority of homes in the city were fairly large single family homes on gridded streets. Go to cities like Buffalo and you will see some of the most beautiful turn of the century architecture.... in normal middle class homes. The same can be said about most cities on the Great Lakes. The people seriously only moved to the suburbs from those cities because "everyone else was doing it". They already had the 3 or 4 bedroom homes and pretty decent sized yards. If you travel to the areas that are now "Ghetto" in those cities, where white flight took out most of the neighborhoods population, it's very sad because it is mostly formerly well kept and respectable homes, that have either been completely abandoned or severly neglected by landlords and tennants. The horrible urban conditions only existed in the dense immigrant neigbhorhoods in cities like New York, Philadelphia, and parts of Boston and Chicago.
 

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miamicanes said:
It's important to keep things in perspective. The main reason urban cores throughout the "Rust Belt" were abandoned is basically because they were awful places to live. Forget the picturesque European villages and tidy New England hamlets. There is no "golden urban past" when the streets of downtown Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit were sunny, well-scrubbed, cheerful happy places with neatly manicured gardens and quaint, friendly stores, enjoyed daily by its sophisticated urban masses. There were a few blocks where the wealthiest of wealthy residents lived, and the rest frankly sucked. Go hunt down someone who's 90 or a hundred years old and ask them how nice it was to live in a compact, urban core just blocks from steel mills, smelting plants, and factories dumping pollution into the rivers & lakes and belching black smoke into the sky 24/7.

For that matter, hunt down a 90 year old Manhattan resident, and ask them why people weren't building trendy, upscale lofts in the slaughterhouse/meatpacking district of Manhattan, or Hell's Kitchen, or most of lower Manhattan. Or, head across the Atlantic, and ask an elderly London resident why nobody lived in the Docklands until very, VERY recently.

There's an easy answer why Americans fled cities at the first opportunity: life there utterly sucked for most people. Norman Rockwell's quaint urban America was a fantasy, and people today believe it existed because there's nobody old enough to remember that things were never even close to being that good. Normal Rockwell and his peers depicted an America bearing about as much resemblance to reality as "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Dallas". Or, for that matter, "Miami Vice" (you know, where cops drive sports cars and seem to have more money than the drug dealers they bust, and everyone lives in South Beach and has a tan...)

At its best, city living can be wonderful. But the truth is, 99% of the people who intentionally move to urban cores NOW from suburbia have incomes and lifestyles that only the wealthiest of wealthy city dwellers could have even fantasized about a century ago. For just about everyone else -- forced to live in the city by necessity -- the quality of life wasn't a whole lot better than it is in most working-class inner-ring suburbs today. And make no mistake... part of the reason why Americans who leave suburbia to move to urban cores NOW can actually afford to live the way they do is because everyone else moved to suburbia and made room for them there.

As for government policies, I'd say Rural Electrification and highway construction are the two obvious ones. Civil Defense strategies of encouraging people to disperse across large areas to minimize fatalities during a nuclear war come to mind, too. Not to mention VA and FHA loans that made it possible for non-wealthy people to afford to buy their own homes, partly justified by the belief that widespread home ownership was an effective way of nipping communist and socialist leanings in the bud. It's easy for voters in a city where nearly everyone rents to vote to increase property taxes to fund social programs, especially if most of the renters live in government-provided housing and don't have to bear the costs of increased taxation anyway... it's next to impossible to raise property taxes in cities where nearly everyone is a homeowner and will directly feel the impact of every last cent.
:applause:
 

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miamicanes said:
It's important to keep things in perspective. The main reason urban cores throughout the "Rust Belt" were abandoned is basically because they were awful places to live. Forget the picturesque European villages and tidy New England hamlets. There is no "golden urban past" when the streets of downtown Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit were sunny, well-scrubbed, cheerful happy places with neatly manicured gardens and quaint, friendly stores, enjoyed daily by its sophisticated urban masses. There were a few blocks where the wealthiest of wealthy residents lived, and the rest frankly sucked. Go hunt down someone who's 90 or a hundred years old and ask them how nice it was to live in a compact, urban core just blocks from steel mills, smelting plants, and factories dumping pollution into the rivers & lakes and belching black smoke into the sky 24/7.

For that matter, hunt down a 90 year old Manhattan resident, and ask them why people weren't building trendy, upscale lofts in the slaughterhouse/meatpacking district of Manhattan, or Hell's Kitchen, or most of lower Manhattan. Or, head across the Atlantic, and ask an elderly London resident why nobody lived in the Docklands until very, VERY recently.

There's an easy answer why Americans fled cities at the first opportunity: life there utterly sucked for most people. Norman Rockwell's quaint urban America was a fantasy, and people today believe it existed because there's nobody old enough to remember that things were never even close to being that good. Normal Rockwell and his peers depicted an America bearing about as much resemblance to reality as "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Dallas". Or, for that matter, "Miami Vice" (you know, where cops drive sports cars and seem to have more money than the drug dealers they bust, and everyone lives in South Beach and has a tan...)

At its best, city living can be wonderful. But the truth is, 99% of the people who intentionally move to urban cores NOW from suburbia have incomes and lifestyles that only the wealthiest of wealthy city dwellers could have even fantasized about a century ago. For just about everyone else -- forced to live in the city by necessity -- the quality of life wasn't a whole lot better than it is in most working-class inner-ring suburbs today. And make no mistake... part of the reason why Americans who leave suburbia to move to urban cores NOW can actually afford to live the way they do is because everyone else moved to suburbia and made room for them there.

As for government policies, I'd say Rural Electrification and highway construction are the two obvious ones. Civil Defense strategies of encouraging people to disperse across large areas to minimize fatalities during a nuclear war come to mind, too. Not to mention VA and FHA loans that made it possible for non-wealthy people to afford to buy their own homes, partly justified by the belief that widespread home ownership was an effective way of nipping communist and socialist leanings in the bud. It's easy for voters in a city where nearly everyone rents to vote to increase property taxes to fund social programs, especially if most of the renters live in government-provided housing and don't have to bear the costs of increased taxation anyway... it's next to impossible to raise property taxes in cities where nearly everyone is a homeowner and will directly feel the impact of every last cent.

:) Nice, but missing the obvious racial overtones..
 

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In the US, there is a different mindset than Europe. In this country, our history has been in large part about westward expansion, pioneers heading out into the wilderness. This has translated into an appeal of getting away from dense population. Self sufficiency and a degree of isolation have become more important to American's than Europeans.

The further westward you tend to head in the US (with the exception of the western coast), the more spread out people tend to become. While government has made policies which tend to encourage, not discourage this, in fact it is as much a response to the public's desire than as a formal policy decission.

Having said that, I think the biggest factor that encourages sprawl (and I think "suburban" and "rural" and "sprawl" are different things) is government form. I find that those areas which seem to have the most sprawl are also those which have the least local government. For instance, in New England we have a strong history of town government, with almost no county government. We have a lot of towns with a core center and then more rural areas as you head out. Go to Florida, where there is very little local government, you find little local focus - it's a general spread. I think that the lack of involvement of the residents tends to discourage identity and focus in the community.
 

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Still. The great lakes cities had everything to offer that those in the east coast were seeking when they moved to the suburbs. I always thought that was a very sad side affect because it brought on the decay of some beautiful homes and neighborhoods.
 

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I wouldnt agree that the Rust Belt/Great Lakes cities were terrible places back in the day. Sure, Pittsburgh was compared to hell by Andrew Carnegie I believe...but that was in the days of nasty pollution from steel mills. Not every part of the city was like that. Go to some of the old neighborhoods of cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Cleveland, etc. and you will find some of the most beautiful homes like ROC mentioned. The streets of these cities were safe and people didnt have to worry about all kinds of problems. Now a days--these cities are dangerous in many areas, have some of the most poverty ridden neighborhoods in America, failing school systems, high taxes, and sleazy politicians. This of course was helped along by our heavy industries, factories, breweries, and all the other blue collar, family supporting jobs that skipped town for the South--just like much of Americas population. Why do you think it is called the "Rust Belt?"
 
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