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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At what range would you call a city suburban? When does a city become urban, or what you would call a big city feel?

What are your thoughts on these density ranges,don't have to give an answer for all-

1000-2000
2000-4000
4000-6000
6000-8000
8000-10,000
10,000-15,000
15,000-20,000
20,000-25,000+
 

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At what range would you call a city suburban? When does a city become urban, or what you would call a big city feel?

What are your thoughts on these density ranges,don't have to give an answer for all-

1000-2000
2000-4000
4000-6000
6000-8000
8000-10,000
10,000-15,000
15,000-20,000
20,000-25,000+
Population density isn't everything. I know here in Miami there are neighborhoods in the 20,000+ per square mile that I would consider suburban because they are neighborhoods purely of residential highrises in which everyone drives in and out to get to far off retail and commercial areas (parts of Aventura, Bal Harbour, Sunny Ises...). And there are neighborhoods where the density is closer to 10,000 that are very urban where everyone walks everywhere and there is great street life.
 

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1981 Civic
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This should be interesting. I'd like to hear people's take on this one.

Basing a city's urbanness on density alone is misleading. Older cities like Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, etc might have had around 13,000 ppsm at their peaks in 1950 but factor in population loss and abandonment, and the number is closer to 6000 people ppsm today. I don't think anyone would consider these suburban cities.

Conversely, Evanston IL is a "suburb" in the sense that it is a community within the influence of a close, larger city (Chicago), but Evanston is as dense or moreso than many major American cities and isn't a suburb in the literal sense (huge yard, single family house, two-car garage, winding streets, etc.)

So, it really depends on your definition of "suburban". I would say that if a community is residential and heavily dependent on cars in terms of its overall existence then it may be a suburban community. Most major cities have at least one or two suburban neighborhoods inside city limits.

Basically, population density is indicative of urbanness only some of the time, and the two are not mutually exclusive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This should be interesting. I'd like to hear people's take on this one.

Basing a city's urbanness on density alone is misleading. Older cities like Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, etc might have had around 13,000 ppsm at their peaks in 1950 but factor in population loss and abandonment, and the number is closer to 6000 people ppsm today. I don't think anyone would consider these suburban cities.
The older cities that have lost population are in my opinion exempt from density debates based on where they are now,simply because they lost population not the infastructure. Except for Detroit where large parts look practically rural.

So we know those citys are built densely and are urban. I mean I think it's best to discuss those at their peak like Detroit in 1950 compared to now. What I'm also trying to get at is what do people think the minimum density is for a place to be urban? Everything else being in place would you consider a 1,500 ppsm place urban? Would it have to start at 7,000?
 

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World Re-nowned
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I think density can be misleading because in cities like Houston and Atlanta which are two of the larger urban areas in the country they have densities of like 2,000 and 3,000 people per square mile and are still developing cities like St. Louis and Cleveland who are a lot older and have actually lost density still have densities of around 6,000 people per square mile and their total urban areas are not comparable to that of the sunbelt cities. In my opinion it's all about the nature of the city. A lot of the newer cities are built more in a suburban nature, with big highways and everyone in the city has lawns.
 

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Everything is contextual. To someone who was born and raised in Atlanta, Boston would most likely be seen as very urban and dense. Someone born and raised out in Henry County would find Atlanta urban and dense.

After spending the last six years in central Tokyo, Boston seems downright quaint to me now, and places like Atlanta.... let's just say that faceless suburbs of Tokyo some 30 miles away from the city are far more urban than anywhere in Atlanta.

Again, it's all about context.
 

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Proud Torontonian
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Cities are designated as suburbs regardless of size and what not, so density and sheer population really have nothing to do with anything. Take Mississauga for example. It's a suburb of Toronto, but it still has upwards of 800,000 people, bigger than many North American metropolises. But to answer your question, when I think suburban I think somewhere along the lines of 60,000 to 100,000 people. This obviously varies everywhere but that's the range that automatically pops into my head.
 

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One of the Washington Area Development think tanks (possibly the Brookings Institute) came up with an Intensity index for a few Washington neighborhoods and ring cities. This intensity index measured both population denisty and job density. To me, this is far more telling than population density because such a high percentage of people's days are spent at work.
 
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