3 Development

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter you will be able to:

  • Describe how a city’s layout and form reflect its history
  • Articulate the impact that new modes of transportation had on urban development patterns
  • Explain how globalization impacts cities and sparks new types of development
  • Understand the role that local governments play in the redevelopment of urban neighborhoods
  • Identify grassroots development methods and alternatives to growth-oriented development.

 

At the beginning of this chapter, we consider the factors that influence a city’s physical form, structure, and land uses. We’ll then explore how a city’s morphology reflects its history and how transportation technologies affect growth and development patterns. Next, we will investigate how changes in the global economy have reshaped cities and fueled urbanization. Then, we will also look at the ways in which local governments direct and spark redevelopment, changing who lives where and what our neighborhoods look like. Finally, we’ll examine different forms of bottom-up development and alternatives to traditional ideas about urban growth and development.

Historical Urban Development Patterns

If you walk the streets of a city anywhere in the world and pay close attention to the layout and design, you may be able to identify when a particular area was developed. Cities that emerged during different historical time periods have distinctive forms. For example, ancient cities were very compact and were surrounded by a defensive wall, and cities that were established as colonies during the Roman Empire are laid out in a grid pattern with two major thoroughfares, one running north/south and another laid-out in an east/west orientation.[1]

Despite their cultural and geographical diversity, ancient cities built between 3,000-8,000 years ago share some similarities. Two features that were present in ancient cities across the globe were the outer walls that surrounded them and their inner citadels, or walled fortifications within the city that were the center of religious and political life.[2]  Cities in the Mesopotamian region were oval-shaped, while ancient Chinese cities had a square shape.[3] In some ancient cities, settlements grew up outside of the city walls, but when ancient Greek cities grew beyond their capacity, a new satellite city-state was formed.

Citadels were constructed in many ancient cities. In Western European cities, castles, a form of a citadel, were built in the center of the city.[4]  Erbil, a Kurdish city in Iraq, is home to the longest, continuously inhabited citadel in the world. The Erbil citadel complex is 6,000 years old.[5] This Unesco World Heritage site contains the Grand Mosque, where residents of the city still worship, a museum, a few businesses, many residential and commercials buildings that are in various states of ruin, and one family’s home. The presence of this lone home preserves this citadel’s status as the world’s longest, continuously occupied city center. The newer parts of the city radiate out from the citadel and resemble more modern urban forms, but the citadel remains a relic of the city’s early history, and it continues to play a central role in the lives of Erbil’s residents.

Ancient cities were primarily concerned with protecting themselves from outside threats, hence their walls and fortified inner citadels. In Mesopotamian cities, the areas located closest to the citadel were designed and planned intentionally and had an ordered structure to them, while the farther from the citadel you went, structures were more informally built and arranged.[6] Those living outside of the city’s walls were less influenced by the religious, social and architectural customs of the city. However, cities in other parts of the world were more cohesively structured. Ancient Chinese cities were laid out in a grid pattern with the major thoroughfares leading to the city gates.[7] The Greeks and the Romans also used a grid pattern to plat streets in their colonial cities.[8]

While the ancient cities’ cores were intentionally designed and planned, residential neighborhoods were more in flux. Neighborhoods in ancient cities were usually bounded by a natural feature, such as a river or stream, but the street layouts and built environment shifted as the needs of the inhabitants changed.[9] Neighborhoods were often populated by residents who shared a common occupation, religion, or ethnicity, but they were heterogeneous and included people of different status. In the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan, large apartment complexes were built to house between 60-100 people who all shared the same occupation or craft.[10] Homes were sites of production as well as residences, and in some ancient cities, neighborhoods included fields where crops were grown.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, cities in Europe were repeatedly attacked and destroyed.[11] When cities began to re-emerge in the 10th and 11th centuries, urban settlements were designed around commerce and trade. While these medieval cities also contained fortified outer walls, as the cities grew, new concentric walls were built to accommodate the growing population. In ancient cities, houses opened up to inner courtyards and the outer street-facing walls were designed for privacy.  Medieval homes were mixed-use with the bottom floors occupied by businesses and the upper ones designed as residences. The central plaza of the city was used as a marketplace, rather than for religious or political purposes.

During the Renaissance period, European cities continued to highlight commerce and trade but were also concerned with aesthetics and art. Cities that developed during this era have plentiful public spaces and made major investments in urban culture. Renaissance cities often have a primary main thoroughfare that was dotted with public artworks like sculptures and fountains. Cities that were established during this era are dense with radial street patterns that included wide main streets that could accommodate horses and carts, and smaller pedestrian only lanes in the residential areas.

The industrial revolution caused an exponential growth in the size and number of cities. In 1800, only 3% of the world’s population lived in a settlement that contained more than 5,000 people.[12]  By 1900, 10% of the world’s population was living in cities. Today, more than half of the globe resides in cities, and by 2050, an estimated 70% of the world will live in an urbanized area.[13]

Cities that developed or grew during industrialization looked different than their predecessors.  As populations expanded, the need for perimeter protective walls disappeared. [14] Massive factory districts were constructed near city centers. New communities were built around these large, factory complexes. In Manchester, New Hampshire, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was established on an undeveloped plot of land along the Merrimack River in 1837, and the company built the town around its massive plant.[15] The factory owners laid out a street grid around the textile mill complex and sold lots to developers to build housing for their workers. Manchester’s urban form is typical of many industrial cities with a central business and industrial district surrounded by working class residential areas.

In addition to gridded street patterns, industrial cities also contained central business districts, or downtown areas where commerce, government, and business functions were located.[16] Factories and manufacturing zones were initially centered in or just outside of the central business area.[17] Adjacent to the manufacturing zones were working class housing districts that were overcrowded, poorly built, and heavily polluted.[18] Residents’ levels of wealth, access to open space, and decent sanitation increased the farther one traveled away from the central city. Unlike ancient or medieval cities where the powerful lived near the center, those with wealth and power lived outside the industrial city in single family homes where open space and fresh air were plentiful.

Class-based segregation was evident in both the physical geography and layout of industrial cities. The wealthiest residents lived far enough away from the factories they owned or managed to escape the smoke, wastes, toxins, and smells that these industries produced.[19] Roads, and later, railways made it possible for the wealthy to travel to and from the central city without having to pass through working class districts. In his description of industrialized Manchester, England, Friedrich Engels explained how all of the roads leading out of the central business area were lined with commercial enterprises, which helped hide the squalor of working class housing districts that were located off the main road. These commercial arteries effectively served to “conceal from the eyes of wealthy men and women of strong stomachs and weak nerves the misery and grime which form the complement of their wealth.”[20]

In the industrial cities of the northern and midwestern United States, residential segregation was not only based on class, but also on race.  Even prior to the Great Migration, when the Black population in northern cities was small, there was evidence of racial segregation. In 1899, noted sociologist W.E.B. DuBois documented the discrimination that African American residents faced in Philadelphia in housing, employment and political life.[21] Blacks were concentrated in the inner city 7th Ward and faced higher housing costs than whites did. They were confined to some of the worst housing in the city, and landlords routinely refused to make repairs on dwellings occupied by African American tenants. While not barred by law from living in majority white districts, when Black families moved into white areas, they faced outright hostility and harassment from their neighbors. These patterns of segregation, disinvestment, and violent discrimination would come to characterize African American experiences in U.S. cities throughout the twentieth century.

Life in the Industrial City: Nineteenth Century York

Although York was established 2,000 years ago and survived numerous conquests and plagues, the northern English city’s population grew rapidly and exponentially during the Industrial Revolution.

In the early 1900s in the poorest districts of the city, 30% of the houses were built back-to-back, which meant three sides of the dwelling were attached to neighboring units leaving only one side available for windows and ventilation. Some homes were built along narrow lanes and alleys that were only 3-4 feet wide. Less than half of the homes had an indoor water tap; the majority had to share a common tap with up to 20 other households. The water tap was usually located in a shared courtyard that also contained midden privies, or open-pit latrines, that were also used by multiple households. Most courtyards weren’t paved and waste from the privies often seeped into surrounding soil. Homes were damp with brick floors that were laid directly upon the ground with no foundation.

The city had more than 94 slaughterhouses, which dumped their waste directly into open sewers that ran through working-class neighborhoods. Small dairy producers maintained cowsheds in residential areas. York was more densely populated than most U.S. cities at the time, but was less crowded than Manchester or London. However, the working-class neighborhoods were heavily populated with densities of more than 300 people/acre. Nineteenth century reformers considered densities of more than 25 people/acre to be unhealthy.

The crowded, unsanitary conditions led to high rates of infant mortality. In England and Wales, infant mortality rates were already high with 160/1,000 newborns not surviving past their first year. York’s working-class districts’ infant mortality rates were 247/1,000. The leading cause of death was dysentery, and typhoid fever, another disease caused by poor sanitation, was also prevalent. Children who did survive were malnourished. They weighed less and were shorter than their peers in other districts. The mainstay of most working-class families’ diets was bread with butter or jam, supplemented with small portions of meat or vegetables, if the family could afford them.

Rowntree, B. Seebohm. Poverty, a Study of Town Life, London: Macmillan, 1901.

Although the Industrial Revolution sparked widespread urbanization in Western Europe and North America, most of the world remained largely rural. European colonization and North American imperialism facilitated industrialization and urbanization in the “core” parts of the world through the mass extraction and export of raw materials from “periphery” nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.[22] Just as agricultural surpluses fueled the development of ancient cities, industrialization was enabled by the mass plunder of resources and people from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Colonization not only involved the complete subjugation of the indigenous economic and political systems for the benefit of the colonizer, but it also transformed the geography of the colonized nation.[23] Colonization left its imprints on many cities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Some of the characteristics of cities that were subject to colonization include extensive infrastructure geared toward the transportation and export of agricultural and mining products, Western influence in architecture, and hyper-segregation and massive inequality between the sectors of town that were inhabited by colonial settlers and the areas that were home to indigenous populations.

Core and Periphery—terms to describe the global imbalances of power

The terms “core” and “periphery” are used to describe the unequal economic, political and cultural relationships that exist between the wealthier nations in North America, Europe, Australia and parts of East Asia and the rest of the world. The terms core and periphery replace outdated and imperialistic terms like “developed” and “less developed” that are still used by international organizations to distinguish between nations that are advantaged in the global economy and those that are disadvantaged. Rather than grouping nations on their levels of development, which implies that nations who were colonized have the same opportunities to build wealth that their colonizers did, the terms core and periphery more accurately describe the economic, political, and cultural imbalances of power that exist among regions of the world.

Even after independence, colonialism left lasting imprints on layout, planning, and design of African cities.[24] Port cities located along the coast or rivers had the most highly developed economic and political infrastructure. They had been developed under colonial rule as export centers. Additionally, the colonial governments limited indigenous Africans’ ability to settle in these cities. Europeans also concentrated urban planning functions within the national government, rather than allowing local authorities to manage their own growth and development. After independence, many of these cities experienced large waves of rural to urban migration, and local governments were unable to provide housing and infrastructure to accommodate them.

Since many of the export-oriented cities that were influenced by colonization had already been in existence long before any settlers arrived, to understand cities in Asia, Africa, or Latin America as being solely shaped by their colonial experience only reinforces a Eurocentric worldview. Despite sharing some similar characteristics, cities throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America are diverse and their structure is influenced by their unique development histories before, during, and after the colonial period.

Some African nations sought to break free from legacies of colonialism by constructing new capital cities based upon indigenous traditions.[25] Abuja was planned and built in the 1970s and 1980s and became the official capital of Nigeria in 1991. Despite being intentionally planned as a post-colonial capital, Abuja replicated some of the characteristics of colonial cities, including having a central business district that is dominated by government institutions and housing districts that are highly segregated along class lines. Although the city was built using a master plan, it is a patchwork of formally constructed areas, remnants of the indigenous villages that existed prior to its construction and informal settlements. Dodoma, Tanzania, is another post-colonial African capital that has been more successful at dismantling colonial urban forms. Established in 1974, Dodoma was planned to be a physical manifestation of ujamaa, which was an African political and economic philosophy that built upon traditional village communalism, self-reliance, and interdependence. Residential neighborhoods in Dodoma were designed in pods of 10 homes that were built around a communal green space meant to replicate rural Tanzanian village life. While rural to urban migration outpaced the ability to construct formally planned neighborhoods, Dodoma experienced less of an influx of residents than Abuja did. Residents living in the planned communities worked with residents in informal areas to regularize these areas, to pressure the government for resources, and to involve residents in the planning process.

Transportation and Urban Development

In the United States, cities expanded their urban footprints over time, while European cities remained more densely settled. The lower densities of U.S. cities were due, in part, to the relative abundance of undeveloped land, but cities also grew in concert with advancements in transportation technologies.[26] Throughout time, the borders of cities have consistently been established at distances that are approximately 45 minutes travel time from the city center.  As new, faster transportation modes emerged, cities began to open up more land for development, and the edges became more distant from the center.

Until the mid-1880s the predominant form of travel within U.S. cities was by foot or horse-drawn vehicle. Cities built during this period were small, dense and highly concentrated.[27] Wealthier citizens could afford to travel by horse and carriage and, therefore, could live farther away from the city center. In the 1890s, the electric streetcar facilitated development of lands that were once considered too far away to be developed.  Residential neighborhoods, known as streetcar suburbs, emerged around these electric trolley lines. The growth of streetcar suburbs produced a star-shaped development pattern with residential neighborhoods expanded out on either side of the trolley line, but remaining within walking distance of the railway. In these streetcar suburbs, the avenue the trolley ran down became a thriving commercial zone, with residential streets laid out along a grid on either side. Streetcars were the first form of mass transportation, and the communities that emerged along the lines varied in make up from lower working class enclaves to middle class neighborhoods.

The introduction of the mass-produced automobile in 1916 significantly reshaped the urban development patterns.[28] As car ownership grew, the undeveloped areas in between various streetcar lines became attractive sites for homebuilding. These new car-dependent neighborhoods reduced the demand for constructing new streetcar lines. As car ownership grew, automobiles began to compete for road space with trolley lines and mass transit ridership fell.

The rise of the automobile not only helped spark development in unbuilt sections of cities away from rail lines, but it also led to an exodus of residents to new communities being developed outside of the city.[29] In the 1920s and 1930s, parkways or roads that were designed strictly for automobiles were constructed outside of major cities. These roads were precursors to freeways and took urban motorists out into the countryside. The earliest suburban communities sprung up alongside parkway routes. Parkways were not only embraced by real estate speculators, but also supported by farmers, because these thoroughfares allowed them to transport their crops to urban markets more efficiently. By 1929, every state had instituted a gas tax to fund new road construction to accommodate the nation’s growing fleet of automobiles. While state and eventually the federal government viewed road building and maintenance as public services that should be funded by tax dollars, mass transit projects like streetcars received no subsidies, yet were forced to keep their fares artificially low under local regulations.

As road construction accelerated and automobile usage grew, streets no longer functioned as multipurpose public spaces.[30] During the 19th century, the street was more than just a transportation thoroughfare through urban neighborhoods. It was a place for recreation, a place to sell goods, and a neighborhood gathering spot. With the rise of the automobile, streets were built and designed for fast travel. The speed and number of cars made it unsafe for people to use the street for any purpose besides traveling from one place to the next.

After World War II, federal housing policies and subsidies coupled with advancements in construction technology fueled massive suburban development.[31] Veterans returned from the war to a nation that had a severe housing shortage. Few housing units had been built during the Depression or the war, and young GIs were eager to start their own families. In response to the wave of home foreclosures during the Great Depression, the U.S. government guaranteed low-interest mortgage loans through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and later through the Veterans’ Administration (VA). These low-interest loans made homeownership accessible to white, working class families. The underwriting rules used by the FHA and VA and adopted by private sector lenders favored newly constructed, single-family homes in racially and ethnically homogenous neighborhoods. These homes were likely to increase in value, so families looking to purchase new suburban homes had no trouble getting financing. These same underwriting rules viewed inner city communities, Black neighborhoods, and racial and ethnically heterogeneous areas as too risky to lend to and refused to issue mortgage loans in these communities. This racial and anti-urban bias in home lending often made it cheaper for white families to purchase a new home in the suburbs than to continue to rent in the city. One of the enduring legacies of racial biases in the mortgage industry is the large Black/white homeownership gap that persists to this day. In 2017, 71.9% of whites owned their own homes, while only 41.8% of Black families were homeowners.[32]

The availability of federally insured home loans coincided with developments in the construction industry that enabled the mass production of housing.[33] State-subsidized roads and parkways and the surge in automobile ownership opened up farmlands outside of cities for development. Homebuilders began to purchase cheap farmland to construct large residential developments. One of the nation’s largest homebuilders, Levitt and Sons, used an assembly-line construction process that allowed them to quickly build simple homes with identical floor plans and finishes. While these innovations in homebuilding didn’t originate with the Levitts, they became associated with them due to the publicity their developments received and the sheer number of homes they built. The Levitts constructed more than 140,000 homes. The first Levittown on Long Island was the largest housing development ever constructed by one company. It contained more than 17,000 identical four-room homes that were designed to be easily expanded as families grew. The development included some playgrounds and green space, but initially, there were no stores, schools or other amenities. Levittown came to characterize the suburban homogeneity that was captured in the lyrics of Malvina Reynolds’ 1962 song Little Boxes: Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky…little boxes all the same.

Characteristics of the Post World War II Suburbs
  • Located outside the urban core
  • Dominated by low-density, detached single-family homes with yards
  • Homogeneity in terms of design, with just a few different home plans available in developments across the country
  • Affordability for white working and middle class households (who were able to obtain mortgage lending)
  • Racial segregation
  • Class segregation
  • Dominated by young, nuclear families
  • Mostly residential

As a result of the postwar suburban boom, cities became far more decentralized then they were in the past. Automobile-dependent cities retained their walking city cores, but the central city was now surrounded by multiple rings of suburbs that decreased in density the farther away from the core you went.[34] As white urbanites began to move en masse to suburban areas, manufacturers and retailers soon followed. The resulting development pattern was polycentric with multiple business centers within a single metropolitan area, and communities that are stratified along class, race, age, lifestyle, and occupational lines. Today’s suburban residents are now far more likely to work in their own or a neighboring suburb than they are to commute to the central city.[35] The Los Angeles metropolitan area is representative of the prototypical U.S. urban form in the 21st century. Rather than a dominant central city surrounded by residential suburbs, it is more of a city region with multiple networked employment and industrial centers that maintain ties to other parts of the region as well as to global production networks.[36]

Scholars have identified new elements of the city region. Joel Garreau uses the term “edge city” to describe the centers of industry, retail, and office space that have emerged on the metropolitan fringe.[37] Edge cities develop in existing suburbs or in exurban, or newly developing areas, on the outer suburban fringe. Edge cities are hubs of employment, office and retail space, and some are centered near airports or other transportation hubs. Robert Fishman describes the technoburb as a sprawling, suburban agglomeration of high-tech companies, low-density office parks, retail, housing, and agricultural spaces that emerge along highway corridors and span multiple towns and jurisdictions.[38] An example of a technoburb is the eastern Seattle suburbs that line highways 520 and 405 and are home to the headquarters of Microsoft and other tech giants.

Globalized Cities

By the 1970s and 1980s, U.S. cities were increasingly decentralized with poorer residents clustered in declining inner city neighborhoods and wealthier residents living in newer, more socially homogenous suburbs away from the urban core. Many U.S. cities’ populations shrunk as a result of the mass exodus to the suburbs. European cities did not follow this model. Greater state involvement in planning and welfare provision, more regulation, a relative lack of land to expand upon, and longer urban settlement histories produced cities where wealth and power were concentrated in the urban core, while impoverished residents were relegated to suburban areas.[39]   Cities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America followed a model similar to the European one, with the poor living on the edges of the city and the wealthy settling in the center of town. However, due to different historical trajectories, these cities exhibited characteristics not seen in Western Europe or North America. Cities in the Global South have concentrations of power and wealth in central city areas that were once dominated by a colonial elite.[40] Some of these cities also have Western-style suburban commercial business districts, and most have vast neighborhoods of informal settlements often built in vulnerable areas like hillsides or flood plains that may lack adequate housing, water, sewage, and other basic infrastructure.

Toward the end of the 20th century, the process of globalization began to reshape urban development patterns around the world, blurring some of the regional differences that had defined cities under earlier world economic systems. Globalization is the strengthening and deepening of world economic ties enabled by innovations in technology, like the rise of computers, mobile networks and container shipping.[41] These technological advances coupled with changes in political and economic policies have exponentially increased global trade, reshaped labor networks, facilitated the movement of people, goods and cultural products around the world, and changed how our cities look and function.

What is Globalization?

Capitalism has always been a world system. Since its rise, industrial capitalism has consisted of global supply chains of raw materials, labor, and manufacturing. For example, the cotton that fueled the textile mills in Manchester, England, was imported from the American South and was planted, tended, and harvested by enslaved Africans who had been kidnapped from their communities and forced into labor by a global human trafficking system. What distinguishes our current system of globalization from the world-spanning capitalist networks that emerged 500 years ago?

According to geographer David Harvey, globalization produces “time-space compression” – the elimination of traditional barriers of distance, borders, and space. Since money and information can travel the world in mere milliseconds, two cities separated by thousands of miles are now more intensely intertwined. The click of a keyboard in one city can determine the fortunes of a place across the world. Financial transactions made in a city thousands of miles away may now have more of an impact on the economic well-being of a community than a policy made by their national government.

The new globalization phenomenon developed as a result of technological innovations in computing and container shipping that enabled a faster exchange of goods and services and revolutionized the structure of the global economy from being organized around industrial production to creating a system where knowledge and information drive profit and development. Sociologist Manuel Castells calls our current iteration of capitalism the “Information Age.” In the Information Age, simply having more knowledge isn’t as important as finding new ways to process and apply that knowledge. The new knowledge networks reshape our economic, political, social and cultural relationships leading to new spaces of inclusion and exclusion.

Harvey, David. 1990. The condition of postmodernity: an enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Oxford [England]: Blackwell.

Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society. 2 Vol. 1. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Two of the main features of globalization that have heavily influenced life in all cities are the mobility of capital and investment and the subsequent New International Division of Labor. Technology has made it easier for companies to stretch production across the globe. As a result, the management, research and development functions continue to take place in wealthier regions of the world, while manufacturing and low-end services have moved to lower-wealth regions in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

Many U.S. and Western European cities were built or developed during industrialization. These cities must now compete with lower-cost regions for manufacturing employment and need to rebrand themselves to attract technology, financial, and other high-end service firms. As the New International Division of Labor was beginning to emerge, industrial cities engaged in smokestack-chasing by offering large tax breaks and incentive packages to retain and attract new companies.[42]  As competition increased and the types of jobs and firms they were chasing after shifted from manufacturing to technology and services, cities launched extensive place-marketing campaigns. These campaigns included branding and advertising, but cities also invested in large-scale, publicly-financed projects that provided little immediate economic benefit for their residents, but politicians hoped would help put their city on the map. These types of projects include building new sports stadiums to attract or hold on to a major league sports team, bidding to host world-class events like the Olympics or World Cup, or constructing new art museums or cultural centers, preferably designed by internationally renowned architects.

By investing in splashy projects, sports franchises, and cultural institutions, cities aimed to provide the lifestyle trappings that appealed to CEOs and upper management; however, these were not the only projects cities embraced to promote economic development. As manufacturing moved offshore, large, inner-city factory and warehouse districts were left empty.  Many cities launched waterfront redevelopment projects that created parks, high-end retail, restaurants and housing along rivers and ports.[43] Historic and arts districts emerged in inner city communities, pushed along by public and private funds. Cities hosted annual music, arts and cultural festivals and built convention centers to attract tourists.

These trends are visible in the central business districts and inner city neighborhoods across North America and Western Europe. The core areas of most cities contain high-end retail, cultural, and entertainment zones alongside more typical business functions. In many cities, old warehouses have been converted into lofts and pricey apartments. Inner cities have been redesigned to attract wealthier residents and tourists. These neighborhoods are outwardly oriented, not only serving local residents, but also attracting visitors from across the region and around the globe.

While North American and Western European globalizing cities are noted for their rising economic inequality, cities in periphery have also been affected by changes in the global economy. As late as 1950, most of Asia and Africa were predominantly rural.[44]  Countries in the Global South, unlike their North American and Western European counterparts, were unable to create an industrial base, because their natural resources and wealth were being exported to fuel urbanization and industrialization in Europe and North America.[45] Andre Gunder Frank described this process as the “development of underdevelopment.” However, globalization and the resulting New International Division of Labor sparked urbanization in Asia, Africa, and throughout the Global South. The reason the world has now become majority urban is because of the massive urbanization process that is happening in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.Cities in the Global South became home to large manufacturing complexes. Rural residents, pushed off land from industrial agriculture, flocked to cities in search of jobs and opportune-ities.[46] These rapidly growing cities attracted more industry and services and were seen as new markets for consumer goods, but they were also characterized by economic inequality. Cities in the periphery are home to an internationally oriented elite, a growing middle-income consumer class, the urban poor, and recent migrant populations. Rapid urbanization has given rise to a large and complex informal sector. The informal sector refers to economic activities that are not officially registered with or regulated by governing authorities. Informal sector workers are often self-employed, and they engage in a wide variety of activities from selling food or drink, to child care, to collecting or recycling waste, to parking cars, to small-scale manufacturing. Informal sector work is integrated into the formal economy, even though it is not officially recognized. In some nations in the Global South, 30-50% of the gross national product is created by informal sector workers.[47]

The Globalization of Sports: African players in European football leagues

Sports are a reflection of society. Soccer may be the universal sport, but talented football players across the globe are not granted equal opportunities to compete professionally, and globalization has reinforced longstanding economic inequities even as the professional landscape has shifted for players on the African continent.

In 1995, new rules were adopted that allowed European soccer leagues to recruit more international players. By 2019, more than half of the players in the top leagues in England, Italy, and Germany were born abroad. Soccer had truly become a globalized sport.

Thirty percent of non-European international players are from the African continent. While this represents a significant increase in the number of African players in the European leagues, not all talented African football players have an equal opportunity to reach the Premier League or the Bundesliga. Most of the expatriate players hail from five West African countries—Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, or Senegal. Some of the focus on these nations can be explained by their colonial histories. For example, Ivory Coast is a former French colony, and France has a long history of recruiting players from nations it had colonized in Africa. But this does not fully explain the different opportunities players have on the continent.

In many West African nations, migrating to Europe or North America to pursue economic or educational opportunities is fairly common. Families sometimes pool their resources to send a member abroad. While migration networks are well-established in this region, people in the East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania tend to pursue economic opportunities within their home countries or in a neighboring nation. Football players from these nations are rarely recruited by European soccer leagues.

The West African soccer players who are drafted by European clubs are often initially paid less than their peers from other parts of the world. While African soccer players are competing at the highest levels, their personal achievements haven’t translated into major revenue for the soccer federations in their home countries. African leagues do not have the same resources that soccer federations do in Europe or South America. As a result, players are recruited to European clubs at a younger age and are sent to platform nations like Belgium or Switzerland, where they receive additional training to prepare to compete in world’s top soccer leagues.

Not all soccer migration occurs from the Global South to the Global North. Players in East Africa are recruited by leagues in other parts of Africa, and South African clubs are emerging as a destination spot for players throughout the continent. In addition, Qatar, which is scheduled to host the next World Cup, is establishing local football academies in Africa to recruit players to play for their national team.

Poli, Raffaele. “African Migrants in Asian and European Football: Hopes and Realities.” Sport in Society 13, no. 6 (2010): 1001-011.

Ungruhe, C, and Schmidt, M.B. “Why Are East African Players Absent in European Football? Localizing African Football Migration along Structural Constraints, Colonial Legacies and Voluntary Immobility.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 44, no. 5 (2020): 397-420.

 

The differences between cities in the core and cities in the periphery have become less apparent over time. When scholars first began to theorize about how globalization was reshaping cities, they noted that characteristics that used to be associated with cities in the Global South were becoming more prevalent in the global cities in the North.[48] Globalization scholars initially focused their attention on cities that sat at the top of world urban hierarchies. The concept of the world city was first developed by Peter Hall in the 1960s.[49] Hall’s world cities, which included New York, London, Tokyo, Moscow and others, were described as places that were home to large concentrations of globally oriented businesses, government agencies, educational and cultural institutions and acted as a headquarters for their nation’s interactions with the world.  Saskia Sassen built upon Hall’s notion of a world urban hierarchy when she explored how globalization was reshaping cities. Her “global cities” are places where the financial decision- makers of the world economy are concentrated.[50] She argued that cities like New York, London, and Tokyo, despite their different histories and cultural contexts, share similar characteristics that are a result of their place in this global urban hierarchy. These cities produce a concentration of highly paid financial and managerial service workers who require a larger group of retail, restaurant, clerical, and other low-paid service sector workers to support their needs. This results in a bifurcated economy, where high-paid workers drive up the cost of living for workers in lower-paid sectors. Sassen noted how makeshift housing and the informal economy, elements that used to be associated with cities in the Global South, are now deeply entrenched in these global cities.

The concept of world or global cities has been critiqued by researchers for failing to capture how ordinary cities, which don’t contain a high concentration of financial services, are being reshaped by globalization. Jennifer Robinson argued that the focus on global cities replicates a North American and Western European bias and instead suggested that all cities, regardless of where they sit in a global urban hierarchy, are connected to larger transnational networks that restructure the social relationships and spaces within the city.[51] She highlighted how Manila is home to a large number of employment agencies that recruit Filipino/a workers for low-paid, temporary jobs abroad. The presence of this employment network impacts family, economic and community life in both the city of origin and the destination city.

The Process of Redevelopment

While a region’s economic niche, its history, and transportation infrastructure all shape a city’s form and structure, decisions about where, how, and whether things will get built, demolished or redeveloped also play a critical role in how a city functions and grows. The majority of structures in most cities are built by private market developers, but the rules and regulations governing what gets built where are determined by city governments. One of the primary ways that local governments shape the built environment is through zoning.  Zoning laws regulate the purpose and uses of a building, minimum lot sizes, the percentage of land that can be built upon, building features, parking, setbacks, and much more. Prior to the adoption of zoning laws in 1916 in New York City, there was no separation between businesses, industries, and residential areas, so a tannery or slaughterhouse could operate next to an apartment building.[52] Zoning improved safety and livability in cities, but it also became a tool that was used to enforce segregation. Wealthy communities could zone-out apartment buildings by only allowing single family homes or by requiring that homes be built upon a large-sized lot, effectively making it too expensive for lower-income people to live in their town or neighborhoods. In inner city communities, industrial and commercial land was over-zoned, so speculators could purchase an apartment building with plans to eventually tear it down and convert the lot into a more profitable commercial or industrial use. Up-zoning is when city governments increase the density of structures allowed on a parcel of land. If a lot that has a single family home is up-zoned to allow for a duplex or apartment complex, investors might purchase the home with the intent to demolish the structure and develop the land into a more profitable use. Land speculators have little reason to invest in the property’s current use, which can lead to owners refusing to make any repairs and can subsequently result in substandard and unsafe housing conditions. Local authorities do not merely regulate land uses, they can also play an active role in developing parcels. In the U.S., cities have the authority to condemn, purchase, and redevelop land, if it is in the public’s interest. The Housing Acts of 1949 and 1954 provided funding for cities to purchase and demolish blighted or slum neighborhoods and sell the parcels to developers for large-scale projects.[53] Cities were supposed to build replacement housing units for those that were destroyed, although they did not have to construct them on the same site. This process was known as Urban Renewal. During its duration from 1949-1973, 600,000 housing units were destroyed on over 1,000 square miles of land, and 2,000,000 people were displaced.[54]  Two thirds of those who were displaced were Black or Latino/a, prompting noted author James Baldwin to dub the program, “Negro Removal.”[55] Public housing units were built as replacements for the demolished communities, but these projects were usually high density, located in existing ghetto neighborhoods, and sometimes required the demolition of additional housing units in order to construct them.[56] In some neighborhoods, as few as 10% of displaced residents ended up being rehoused in public housing units.[57]

Urban renewal as it was practiced before 1973 does not occur in U.S. cities today, although local governments still occasionally acquire properties for transportation or public interest projects.  However, this level of government involvement in redevelopment occurs in other cities around the world. Between 1990 and 2005, more than 85% of the traditional siheyuan or courtyard-style housing in Beijing was torn down and replaced with modern apartment buildings.[58] As urban populations increased in China, these courtyard homes were subdivided multiple times, and many housed 10 or more families.[59] Many residents appreciated the new apartments that were built and saw them as an improvement over the housing conditions in the siheyuan. In this case, redevelopment improved the housing situation for many displaced residents; however, the loss of this historic and unique urban form of housing raised alarms both in Beijing and around the globe. In 2005, the government launched a program to preserve and upgrade the remaining courtyard complexes.

State-sponsored redevelopment is not the only form of neighborhood change. Gentrification, or the process by which a low-income neighborhood is transformed into a middle or upper-income area, can be viewed as a private sector version of urban renewal.[60] Like urban renewal, older, more affordable housing is renovated or replaced by more expensive units, businesses change, and the original residents of the area are displaced. However, since gentrification relies upon myriad actors in the private sector making individual decisions to invest in a community over time, the process is patchy and chaotic.

Neighborhoods face gentrification pressures when real estate is undervalued and there is a population of people who are willing to live in inner city areas and have enough income to purchase and renovate property or move into newly remolded units.[61] The undervalued real estate is the supply-side input of the gentrification process. Real estate investors and speculators will buy up cheap properties, if they believe they have an opportunity to resell them at a profit. The disinvestment that occurred in inner city neighborhoods after suburbanization made these areas particularly vulnerable to gentrification pressures. Population losses, low homeownership rates due to discriminatory mortgage lending practices, and years of neglect by absentee owners drove the value of inner city real estate far below median prices. In addition, as the economy changed due to globalization, scores of factory buildings and warehouses were left empty in industrial neighborhoods.

While disinvestment and the changing urban economy provides a supply of low-cost real estate, gentrification also requires demand.[62] Starting in the 1970s and 1980s, younger singles and couples began moving back to the city from the suburban communities where they had grown up. The demand side of gentrification was also spurred by economic transformations. High-end service and technology sector companies and their workers began moving into downtown and close-in urban neighborhoods. As companies relocated to renovated warehouse and factory districts, their employees followed.

While gentrification is primarily fueled by private sector investors, local governments do play a role in sparking redevelopment.[63] Investors are reluctant to put money into neighborhoods that are neglected by city authorities. The initial investments made in these communities often come from the public sector in the form of a new park, transit line, arts facility, mixed-income housing project, or other state-subsidized development.

Gentrification results in displacement, but the neighborhood changes can take decades to unfold and happens in an uneven manner.[64] Low-income renters, families with children and the elderly are most at risk of displacement in gentrifying communities. Homeowners are not as affected by rising housing costs, although as the value of their home increases, some may decide to sell, or they may also be displaced if their property tax bills rise as a result of increases in home values. Since longtime residents live alongside newcomers, gentrification can also produce neighborhood clashes or conflicts.

Alternative forms of Urban Development

While the public and private sectors play a large role in shaping our built environment, not all urban development happens from above. There are grassroots forms of urban development.  Community development is when neighborhood or community groups organize to create, plan and carry out projects that will improve their own lives[65]. Community-based development often refers to neighborhood-centered nonprofit organizations that build affordable housing, provide small business assistance or job training programs, or make physical or social improvements in their communities.[66]

In U.S. cities, community development corporations carry out revitalization projects in the neighborhoods they serve. The New Community Corporation (NCC) in Newark, N.J., was founded in 1968 as disinvestment was accelerating in the city due to major civil unrest.[67] The faith-based organization focused on the Central Ward, which lacked many basic services. Their first project was an affordable housing development on a two acre-tract of land that was part of larger-scale plan to redevelop a 45-acre area to provide housing, jobs, and needed services like child care. Fifty years later, NCC has created more than 4,000 affordable housing units, provides support services to neighborhood families, has child care and health centers, offers job training and runs a credit union. The organization also operates a major grocery store. The store was significant, because Central Ward residents used to have to leave the city to do their grocery shopping.

Community-based development strategies aim to bring resources and projects to underserved neighborhoods, but focusing solely on neighborhood redevelopment has its limitations. Redevelopment can become so successful that it sparks private investment and gentrification, which can end up displacing the very people that the community-development organization was designed to serve. Community development also doesn’t challenge the systemic issues that cause disinvestment. Community organizing can be either an alternative or a complementary strategy to community development that can address these limitations.[68]

While community development invests in projects, community organizing invests in people. Community organizing is when a group mobilizes to gain political power or to force those in power to provide the resources needed to make improvements in their lives. One of the most famous examples of community organizing is the Back of the Yards neighborhood organization that Saul Alinsky helped found. This multi-ethnic, working-class Chicago neighborhood mobilized and took direct actions to force public and private institutions to invest resources in their community. They were able to win financing for home improvement loans that provided much needed renovations in 90% of the neighborhood’s housing units.[69]

Typically, development, whether on an international or neighborhood scale, implies a growth-oriented, linear model that measures achievement in terms of wealth.[70] Sustainable development is an alternative approach to how development is measured. A sustainable development approach focuses on the long-range viability of plans, emphasizes land and resource conversation, and strives for the improved health and well-being of residents.[71] A sustainable urban development philosophy aims to create a city that reduces its ecological footprint, builds infrastructure and programs that will benefit current and future generations, and has an economy that meets residents’ basic needs.

In South America, an emerging alternative concept of development is the Buen Vivir approach.  Buen Vivir is a philosophy that is heavily influenced by Quechua and other indigenous perspectives.[72]  Like sustainable development, Buen Vivir promotes ecological health, but it also emphasizes collective, rather than individual, well-being.  Buen Vivir strives to create harmony among all community members, and in this worldview, all living beings – human, plant and animal – are considered community members. It eschews placing a monetary value on interactions and exchanges and decries materialism. Elements of the Buen Vivir philosophy have been adopted into the Ecuadorian and Bolivian constitutions.[73]

Summary

Our cities’ layouts and built environments reflect the eras when they were developed. As transportation technologies changed, cities grew and developed in distinct ways. While North American urban regions suburbanized, European cities remained more compact, with wealth and power concentrated in inner city areas, rather than in the newly built fringe. Cities in the Global South were shaped by colonialism and imperialism. The extraction of wealth from these nations fueled North American and Western European industrialization and urbanization, while nations in the periphery remained largely rural.

Globalization has reshaped cities across the world, regardless of the role they play in the global economy. The hyper-mobility of capital led cities to compete with one another for investment and jobs. The resulting place-marketing strategies created publicly funded festivals, events, and developments that were aimed at attracting outsiders, rather than serving the needs of local residents. The New International Division of Labor sparked widespread urbanization in Global South and created a new middle class, while the industrial cities in Western Europe and North America sought to redevelop waterfront and factory complexes. State-driven urban renewal efforts have been replaced by public and private sector cooperation to remake communities, resulting in gentrification of inner city areas and displacement.

Development does not have to adhere to a growth-oriented model. Community-based development, sustainable development and Buen Vivir all advocate for greater accountability and community control over development decisions.

Test your Urban Literacy:

Think about how the concepts in this chapter apply to your own city
  1. How does the built environment of your city reflect the era during which it was founded and developed? Identify at least three examples of your city’s design and layout that are unique to the historical time frame during which it was developed.
  2. Urban neighborhoods look different depending upon what the dominant form of transportation was when they were developed. Compare two neighborhoods in your city that were built during different time frames. How do the car-dominant neighborhoods differ from those that were built prior to the automobile era?
  3. Provide two examples of residential segregation in your city. How do you know that these particular neighborhoods are associated with a certain economic class or racial/ethnic group? What aspects of the built environment provide clues to who lives there and who may be excluded?
  4. Globalization has transformed cities across the world. Think about how your city’s downtown area has been reshaped by globalization. Create a list of buildings, businesses, institutions, and public spaces that have been transformed by the deepening of global economic ties.
  5. The process of gentrification involves hundreds of private sector transactions, which means it happens unevenly across the space of a neighborhood. What does the slow, uneven nature of gentrification mean for the residents who live in a neighborhood that is undergoing redevelopment? What types of conflicts or potential opportunities for collaboration and transformation exist in neighborhoods that are undergoing gentrification?
  6. Choose one alternative method of development (i.e. sustainable development) and consider what your city might look like if these principles were adopted.

Learn to read the city around you:

Apply what you’ve learned in this chapter by completing a hands-on activity in your own city
  1. Map patterns of inequality: Collect statistical data points that demonstrate different aspects of inequality within your city or region. Your data can come from different local institutions, like health authorities, housing bureaus, or criminal justice departments. Some potential data points could include: educational attainment levels, housing tenure, housing conditions, traffic accident rates, disease rates, income or unemployment levels, or crime rates. You will want to make sure that the data you choose is available on the neighborhood, ZIP code, or Census tract level. Once you collect your data points, map them. Do you notice any patterns? Are there neighborhoods that are more socially advantaged and others that are socially disadvantaged? If you see patterns of inequality, choose two advantaged neighborhoods and two disadvantaged neighborhoods. Collect more data about them. Are there any trends that you notice? For example, are lower-income neighborhoods more disadvantaged, or are neighborhoods located farther away from the urban core more socially advantaged? What do these patterns reveal about segregation within your city or region?
  2. Repurpose a vacant suburban shopping mall: You are part of an urban planning committee that is tasked with coming up with a proposal to repurpose an empty shopping mall. Your close-in suburban community hopes that the renovated mall project will spark further investment in your town. Your community has become increasingly poor over the past two decades, and the town desperately needs more property tax revenue to repair roads, build new schools and maintain parks. While many businesses have left within the past decade, there is some hope. There is a large, recent immigrant population that has opened a number of new, small businesses in the downtown core, which is an area that was badly in need of investment. You also have a large senior citizen population, many of whom live on fixed incomes. Your community is located near a rail line, which potentially makes it attractive to young professionals who are being priced out of the neighboring large city. The town has an opportunity to spark new investment, raise tax revenues and meet the community’s needs by redeveloping a long-vacant shopping mall. The mall has two big box anchor stores and 20 shops in between. It also has a large parking area and is across the street from the rail station. Design a plan to repurpose this empty shopping mall. How would you develop this space? What types of businesses or other uses (i.e. industrial, residential, recreation) should occupy this space? Write a plan that describes how the mall is to be redeveloped. Include a detailed planning map that shows how the indoor and outdoor spaces will be used.
  3. Make a photo essay about gentrification: One of the defining features of gentrification is the juxtaposition of two seemingly different worlds sharing the same space (rich/poor, old/new, black/white, young/old, etc.). Make multiple visits to a gentrifying area in your city and document what you see. Organize your photos into a visual essay or slide show. Think about how the images relate to one another and how you want to use these photos to tell a story. You may include short captions under each photo, or you could let the images tell the story on their own.
  4. Trace a transnational network: Identify a transnational network that your city is a part of. You might find transnational connections within local industries, like auto manufacturing or sportswear, or tied to specific businesses, such as a multinational corporation headquartered in your area. You may also have communities that have transnational ties. For example, your city may be home to people from a particular region of Mexico or to a small religious sect from Iran. You can also find transnational connections within your local university or within arts or cultural institutions. Find out as much as you can about the geography of this network. Create a diagram that shows the different geographic nodes within this network, how they relate to one another and the role each one plays within it. Write a short reflection about the impacts each node in the network has on the others.
  5. Outline small steps your neighborhood or campus could take toward sustainability: Imagine that your city has decided to integrate a sustainable development perspective into its policies and programs. Define what sustainability means and how you will use this perspective to guide decision-making. Outline 10 small action steps (i.e. place recycling cans in all school buildings) your neighborhood or campus could take to become more sustainable.
  6. Compose a letter to the local newspaper protesting urban renewal: Identify a neighborhood where urban renewal occurred. The neighborhood may be in your city or can be in another. Research what the neighborhood was like before it was bulldozed and what it was replaced with. Write a short (250 word) letter from the perspective of a resident or business owner who is going to be displaced by urban renewal. In your letter, describe why the neighborhood should be saved.
  7. Adapt your city to the transportation of the future: Choose an emerging form of transportation that might become more commonplace in the near future (like self-driving cars or high-speed rail). What types of infrastructure will this form of transportation require? How will it change the ways in which we get to and from places? Will it spark new ways of living, working, and socializing? Create a booklet that outlines how this new form of transportation might change how our cities are structured, laid out and will function.
  8. Compare two business districts from different eras in your city: Visit a part of your city that was built in the walking or streetcar suburb era and then visit an auto-oriented neighborhood. Take a 30-minute walk in the neighborhood and record your observations. You can film the area and narrate what you see or you can take notes and photographs of your observations. Create a short video or essay that compares the land uses, layouts, and social life in these two neighborhoods.

 

 

 

 

 


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  28. Ibid.
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  30. Ibid.
  31. Ibid.
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  47. Clark, Urban World/Global City, 116.
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  51. Jennifer Robinson, “Global and World Cities: A View from Off the Map,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 26, no. 3, (2002): 531-54.
  52. Jackson, Crabgrass.
  53. Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass, (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1993).
  54. Short, Alabaster, 20.
  55. Emily Badger, “Why Trump’s Use of the Words Urban Renewal is Scary for Cities” New York Times, December 7, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/upshot/why-trumps-use-of-the-words-urban-renewal-is-scary-for-cities.html?_r=0.
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  57. Short, Alabaster.
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  61. Ibid.
  62. Ibid.
  63. Ibid.
  64. Ibid.
  65. George Kent, “Community-based development planning,” Third World Planning Review 3, no. 3 (August 1981): 313-326.
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  70. Kent, “Community-based development”
  71. Stephen Wheeler, “Planning Sustainable and Livable Cities,” in The City Reader: Second Edition, ed. By Richard LeGates and Frederic Stout, (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), 434-445.
  72. “Buen Vivir: The Social Philosophy Inspiring Movements in South America,” Accessed on November 1, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/buen-vivir-philosophy-south-america-eduardo-gudynas.
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