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The Urban Mosaic

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  1. The Urban Mosaic The Human Mosaic Chapter 11

  2. Culture Regions • Urban culture regions • Cultural diffusion in the city • The cultural ecology of the city • Cultural integration and models of the city • Urban landscapes

  3. Introduction • Like society, the city is composed of many different groups • Theme of culture regions can be applied to those parts of the city where people live who share similar traits • Most city dwellers are intuitively aware of urban culture regions • Visual clues are important to distinguishing different urban culture regions

  4. Social regions • Distinguishing between social culture regions and ethnic culture regions depends more on the researcher’s emphases and interests than on communities themselves • Social region studies usually focus on socioeconomic traits, such as income, education, age, and family structure • Ethnic region studies highlight traits such as language and migration history • The two concepts overlap because there can be social regions within ethnic regions and vice versa

  5. Social regions • One way to define social regions is to isolate one social trait and plot its distribution within the city • United States census is a common source for trait information • Census tracts are small enough to allow subtle texture of social regions to show

  6. Social regions • United States census is a common source for trait information • For example, the next slide shows rough distribution of income in Berkeley, California • Tracts with similar average incomes have been lumped together • Show areas of high, middle and low income • In a rough way correspond to social stratification in city • High income areas in hilly east area, where white people dominate • Lower-income areas are on flatlands, closer to bay-front industrial areas, and made up of students and minorities • Similar mapping could be done using age, education, or percentage of families below poverty level

  7. Social regions • A visual check is often a simple first step in mapping social regions • Another approach is to correlate various social indicators • Politicians have long known districts with certain demographic characteristics tend to vote certain ways • Urban analysts look at the degree of correlation among factors such as income, occupation, age, and ethnicity • Results can be translated into a pattern of multiple-factor urban social regions

  8. Neighborhoods • Often used to describe small social regions where people with shared values and concerns interact daily • A conventional sociological explanation for neighborhoods is that people of similar values cluster together to reduce social conflict • Where social consensus exists regarding such matters as home maintenance, child rearing, everyday behavior, and public order, there is little need to worry • People who deviate from the consensus face social coercion • Celebrates social homogeneity of small spatial communities

  9. Neighborhoods • Increasingly, neighborhoods are found with more heterogeneity • The current concept of neighborhoods is more flexible • Embraces traditional components of locality, such as geographic territoriality, political outlook, and shared economic characteristics • Also embraces the consensus from both insiders and outsiders perception of a certain area as a “neighborhood”

  10. Neighborhood: Montreal, Canada

  11. Neighborhood: Montreal, Canada • This working class neighborhood is inhabited by descendents of nineteenth and early twentieth century Irish immigrants. • Here, much social activity takes place on the street. • The corner store, tavern, park, and Roman Catholic church are also nodes of activity.

  12. Neighborhood: Montreal, Canada • Although the larger area is French, the Irish are bilingual. • On public holidays, the Irish fly the red and white, Canadian maple leaf flag, while the French post the blue and white, Quebec fleur-du-leis.

  13. Neighborhood: Montreal, Canada • White, plastic chairs are found on the balconies of both groups because sitting outside and people-watching is a traditional Quebec pastime. • With shared values and concerns, these people interact daily in their neighborhood.

  14. Neighborhoods • May be ethnically and socially diverse, yet think of itself as a social community sharing similar political concerns • Hold neighborhood meetings to address these problems • Recognized by city hall as a legitimate group with political standing • Neighborhood may only develop when a community coalesces around a specific political issue • Cohesion may actually erode and wane as issue passes

  15. Neighborhoods • Concept usually implies people have access to a permanent or semi-permanent place of residence • Increasingly in United States’ cities more people are homeless • Divorced from ties of neighborhood • Nearly impossible to determine number of homeless in United States

  16. Neighborhoods • Concept usually implies people have access to a permanent or semi-permanent place of residence • Definitions of homelessness vary • Depends on criteria used and cultural context of particular situation • Does living in a friend’s house for more than a month constitute a homeless condition? • How permanent does a shelter have to be before it is a home? • To some, home connotes a suburban middle-class house • To others, it refers to a room in a city-owned shelter

  17. Neighborhoods • Homeless people are often not counted in census or other population counts • May be up to 3 million homeless persons in the United States • Concentrated in downtown areas of large cities

  18. Neighborhoods • Causes of homelessness are varied and complex • Many suffer from some type of disorder or handicap • Deprived of social networks provided by a permanent neighborhood • Most cities have tried providing temporary shelters • Many homeless prefer to rely on their own social ties for support in order to maintain some sense of personal pride and privacy

  19. Neighborhoods • Neighborhood concept is central to cultural geography of cities • Recognizes sentiment people have for a “place” and their attachment to it • Recognizes how attachment becomes basis for ongoing social and political action • Many — if not most — urbanites do not share this sense of neighborhood • Urbanites live in perceptually undifferentiated residential areas

  20. Culture Regions • Urban culture regions • Cultural diffusion in the city • The cultural ecology of the city • Cultural integration and models of the city • Urban landscapes

  21. Inner and outer city • Centralizing forces—those diffusion forces that result in residences, stores, and factories locating in the inner or central city • Decentralizing forces—those that result in activities locating outside the central city • Pattern of homes, neighborhoods, offices, shops, and factories in the city results from constant interplay of these two forces

  22. Centralization • Economic advantages • Accessibility • Department stores located in the city center for greater accessibility to customers • Especially important before the automobile • Streetcars were centered in the city • Bakeries and dairies located there so daily deliveries would be efficient

  23. Centralization: Chicago, Illinois

  24. Centralization: Chicago, Illinois • Chicago’s origins derive from accessibility. Situated on Lake Michigan, it began as a prairie seaport for the agricultural Midwest and by 1856, was the focus of ten trunk lines. Industries and immigrant workers agglomerated in the central city. After the Great Fire of 1871, many industries relocated on the more spacious periphery and the downtown developed as a retail and financial center.

  25. Centralization: Chicago, Illinois • The 1885 invention of the skyscraper and the construction of elevated trains intensified downtown growth and by 1920, the pattern was set: Chicago was the nation’s retail and mail-order capital. This view is from the 1454’ Sears Tower to the 1127’John Hancock Tower.

  26. Centralization: Chicago, Illinois • The copper-roofed building on the Chicago River in the lower left is the Apparel and Merchandising Mart; the IBM building stands next to the round Marina towers; and the Chicago Temple, Daley Center and First National bank are at the lower right. Note the location of the tallest structures (and most costly land) close to the lake front, known as the Gold Coast. A transitional zone lies behind.

  27. Centralization • Economic advantages • Agglomeration or clustering results in mutual benefits for businesses • Retail stores locate near one another to take advantage of pedestrian traffic • A large department store generates foot traffic, so nearby stores will also benefit • Historically, offices clustered together in the city center • Need for communication before the telephone • Messengers hand-carried work of banks, insurance firms, lawyers, etc. • Still cluster together because of need for face-to-face communication • Take advantage of complicated support system that grows up in the central city

  28. Centralization • Social advantages • Strength of historical momentum should not be underestimated • Many activities remain in the central city because they began there long ago • Example of the financial district in San Francisco located on Montgomery Street • Established in the gold rush of 1849 • Area was the center of commercial action • Originally along the waterfront, later land-filling extended the shoreline • Never moved it absolute location

  29. Centralization • Social advantages • Prestige is a strong centralizing force • Important for advertising firms to have a New York Madison Avenue address • Important for a stockbroker to be on Wall Street • Extends to many activities in cities of all sizes • “Downtown lawyer” and “uptown banker” are examples

  30. Centralization • Social advantages • Prestige is a strong centralizing force • High-income neighborhoods were located close to the downtown area • This trend has weakened in North America • Downtown areas have become congested and noisy • Transportation has encouraged suburban residences • London and Paris still have very prestigious neighborhoods directly in the downtown area

  31. Centralization • Social advantages • Strongest social force for centralization has been the desire to live near one’s employment • Before development of the electric trolley in the 1880s, most urban dwellers had little choice other than walking to work • Most people lived near the central city because that was where the jobs were • Even after electric streetcar lines many people continued to walk to work • Many could not afford housing in the new suburbs

  32. Decentralization • The past 40 years witnessed massive changes in form and function of most Western cities • In the United States, suburbanization of residences and workplaces have created downtowns empty of economic vitality

  33. Decentralization: Irvine, California

  34. Decentralization: Irvine, California • This corporate tower is part of Irvine Spectrum, a high-tech corridor about 35 miles southwest of Los Angeles. Focusing on the edge-cities of Irvine, Newport, and Costa Mesa, this is a region of master-planned communities, office

  35. Decentralization: Irvine, California parks, giant malls, and lateral commuting that experienced phenomenal growth in the 1980s when decentralization became a major trend in North American urban development.

  36. Decentralization • Geographer Neil Smith’s views • Processes of suburbanization and decline of inner city are fundamentally linked • Capital investment in suburbs often made possible by disinvestment from central city • Post-World War fl American investor found greater returns on their money in new suburbs • Refers to these processes as uneven development

  37. Decentralization • Socioeconomic factors • Changes in accessibility have been a major reason for decentralization • Department stores now find customers have moved to the suburbs • People no longer shop downtown • Other business have moved to the suburbs • Food-processing plants move to minimize transportation costs • Many find trucking more effective than railways because of freeways • Offices locate near airports so executive and salespeople can fly in and out more easily

  38. Decentralization • Socioeconomic factors • Agglomeration’s benefits have now become liabilities in many downtown areas • Rents increased as a result of high demand for space • Congestion in the support system • Traffic congestion — delivery to market time-consuming • In some areas traffic moves slower than it did at the turn of the century • Employees may demand higher wages as compensation for the inconveniences of central-city living

  39. Decentralization • Socioeconomic factors • Many firms have left New York City for the suburbs • Claim it cost less to locate there • Employees are happier and more productive • Benefits of clustering in new suburban locations • Industrial parks, where costs of utilities and transportation links are shared by all occupants • Real estate developments take advantage of clustering by sharing costs of schools, parks, road improvement, and utilities • New residents prefer a new development when they know a full range of services is available nearby

  40. Decentralization • Socioeconomic factors • First suburbs were “bedroom communities” • People commuted to jobs in downtown area • Now people work in suburban industrial parks, etc. • Lateral commuting — travel from one suburb to another • Freeway congestion now goes both directions • Downtown areas today are faced with decay and lack of investors

  41. Public policy • At the national level, has contributed greatly to decentralization and abandonment of our cities • Federal Highway Act of 1916 and Interstate Highway Act of 1956 • Directed government spending on transportation to cars and trucks • Urban expressways, in combination with emerging trucking industry, led to massive decentralization of industry and housing • Ability to deduct mortgage interest from income for tax purposes favors individual home ownership

  42. Public policy • At the national level, has contributed greatly to decentralization and abandonment of our cities • New Deal enactment of the Federal Housing Administration in 1934, and the GI Bill of 1944 • Meant to put people back to work in the building trades • Also to help house returning soldiers after World War II • What they did was insure long-term mortgages for home construction and sale

  43. Public policy • At the national level, has contributed greatly to decentralization and abandonment of our cities • Although FHA legislation contained no explicit antiurban bias, most houses it insured were located in new residential suburban developments • By setting particular terms for its insurance, the FHA favored development of single-family over multifamily projects • FHA-insured loans for repairs were short term and generally small

  44. Public policy • At the national level, has contributed greatly to decentralization and abandonment of our cities • To receive a loan, applicant and neighborhood of the property were to be rated by an “unbiased professional” • Was intended to guarantee property value of house would be greater than the debt • Encouraged bias against any neighborhood considered a potential risk in terms of property values • FHA warned against neighborhoods with a racial mix, assuming such a social climate would bring property values down

  45. Public policy • At the national level, has contributed greatly to decentralization and abandonment of our cities • Encouraged enactment of restrictive covenants written in property deeds prohibiting certain “undesirable” groups from buying property • Prepared maps of metropolitan areas, depicting locations of African- American families and predicting their spread • Often served as the basis for red-lining, a practice in which banks and mortgage companies commonly demarcated areas considered to be high risk for loans • Red lines were often drawn around these areas