URBAN LEGENDS: Why suburbs, not cities, are the answer

Something has been lost from our discussion of cities: the human element. The goal of urban planners should not be to fulfill their own grandiose visions of megacities on a hill, but to meet the needs of the people living in them, particularly those people suffering from overcrowding, environmental misery, and social inequality.

Ultimately, dispersion — both city to suburb and megacity to small city — holds out some intriguing solutions to current urban problems. The idea took hold during the initial golden age of industrial growth — the English 19th century — when suburban “garden cities” were established around London’s borders. The great early 20th-century visionary Ebenezer Howard saw this as a means to create a “new civilization” superior to the crowded, dirty, and congested cities of his day.

Despite all the “back to the city” hype of the past decade, more than 80 percent of new metropolitan growth in the United States since 2000 has been in suburbs.

Staying the Same: Urbanization in America

The recent release of the 2010 US census data on urban areas
shows that Americans continue to prefer their lower density
lifestyles, with both suburbs and exurbs growing more rapidly
than the historic core municipalities. This may appear to be at odds
with the recent Census Bureau 2011 metropolitan area population
estimates, which were widely miss-characterized as indicating exurban
(and suburban) losses and historical core municipality gains. In fact,
core counties lost domestic migrants, while suburban and exurban counties gained domestic migrants.

Staying the Same: Urbanization in America published at NewGeography.com