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UPA Package 3, Module 1. SUBURBANIZATION, URBAN FRINGE DEVELOPMENT AND THE POOR. Contents. Understanding concepts Suburbs Factors contributing to suburbanization push factors pull factors Problems of the poor associated with suburbanization

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upa package 3 module 1
UPA Package 3, Module 1




  • Understanding concepts
  • Suburbs
  • Factors contributing to suburbanization
    • push factors
    • pull factors

Problems of the poor associated with suburbanization

  • Problems of the poor in abandoned inner cities
  • Problems of the poor in the suburbs
  • Some smart solutions to suburban sprawl

3.1.4 Suburbanization, Urban Fringe Development and the Poor



  • Defined
  • Literally means ‘beyond the city’, can refer to any settlement at the periphery of a large city
  • A small town in the process of being swallowed up by an expanding metropolis
  • A newly built industrial area in the urban fringe
  • A residential community beyond the core of a large city
  • By Robert Fishman, 1996

Politically independent municipalities located outside the corporate boundaries but within an interdependent metropolitan area. (Patrick J. Ashton, 1978)

  • Need not be a separate political unit from the central city. (Robert Fishman, 1996)

3.1.4 Suburbanization, Urban Fringe Development and the Poor



  • Separate from the urban core but dependent on it economically and culturally.
  • In terms of design, distinct from both city and countryside but a “marriage of town and country.”
  • Distinctive mark: Primacy of the single-detached family home in an open park-like setting.

Characteristics (U.S.)

  • peripheral growth
  • low density
  • functional segregation of land uses
  • lengthening journeys to work and market
  • ubiquitous cars, trucks and highways
  • mainly residential use with some commercial, office and industrial nodes
  • typically middle class lifestyle

Underlying Values

  • Primacy of the family and the ties that bind it
  • Necessity of privacy of the family unit
  • Need to separate the domestic sphere from the world of work
  • Visions of integrated neighborhood parks, lower residential densities, and tree-lined streets in “garden cities” by social reformers (e.g. Ebenezer Howard, Frederick Law Olmstead).
  • Search for class-segregated neighborhoods which the older city could not provide.
  • Desire for class segregation (“friction theory”, Lesson 2)
    • growing uneasiness at close contact between classes
    • rejection of neighbourhoods that make such contact inevitable

3.1.4 Suburbanization, Urban Fringe Development and the Poor

  • Historical Stages
  • Suburbanization during the early industrial stage
  • Suburbanization up to the period of late industrialization
  • Post-industrial suburbanization

Early Industrial Stage

  • Only the elite could afford to live in the suburbs because they had the time and money to commute by horse and carriage.
  • Later advent of the trolley and ferry boat allowed the upper middle class to escape urban slums because they could afford the price of developed suburban properties offered by real estate interests.
  • Both upper class residential retreats and upper middle class streetcar suburbs did not make a significant shift in the population.

3.1.4 Suburbanization, Urban Fringe Development and the Poor


Later Industrial Stage

  • Decentralization of industry was triggered by
  • deterioration of the physical environment due to air and water pollution.
  • escalating hostility between classes started to threaten capitalist prerogatives and profits.
  • development of electric power which allowed for the introduction of assembly line production requiring sprawling one to two storey plants in more spacious, cheaper land in the city’s periphery.

3.1.4 Suburbanization, Urban Fringe Development and the Poor


As industry moved out of the city workers followed to be close to their jobs. This was aided by

  • widely available inexpensive automobiles which became a social and economic necessity.
  • massive road building that provided easy access to the suburbs.
  • Federal subsidy to low-density detached, owner-occupied single-family housing available mainly in the suburbs.

Later Industrial Stage

  • Federal government-built industrial plants in the suburbs that were commissioned during World War II.
  • The outward exodus of jobs and households reached its peak from the post war years to the 1960s, further facilitated by the truck-auto-freeway trilogy that
    • opened suburban areas for efficient motor freight movement
    • enhanced employee access
  • Circumferential by-pass roads and downtown - oriented corridors promoted outlying industrial growth

Post Industrial Stage

  • From the 1970s onwards the character of suburbs reflects the tertiarization of the urban economy.
  • Decentralization of offices including corporate headquarters from their usual central location to the suburbs
  • Suburbanization of large shopping malls and superstores.
  • Emergence of information technology-based establishments such as business and industrial parks, science and technology parks, airport corridors and the like.

Contributory factors (“push factors”)

  • City center became undesirable place due to
    • physical disamenities like traffic, noise, dirty air, filthy grounds, visual ugliness
    • deteriorating social relations among classes: the alienating, exploitative treatment of labor by capital and the unruly, threatening behavior of working classes.
  • Fear of contagion of the rich by the poor led to suburban flight of the rich.
  • Land values rising steeply, making central locations expensive.

Rising property tax necessary to support urban public services drove property owners out

  • Post war (1948-1958) formation of new households coupled with backlogs of unfilled demand for separate housing due to the war.
  • Vacant lands in old city centers insufficient or unsuitable for residential building.
  • Urban renewal too slow to make new housing available.
  • Destruction of old housing during urban renewal created serious housing backlogs in inner cities.

The “pull factors”

  • The pull of the rural ideal.
  • Supply of urban space plentiful in the urban fringe.
  • Individuals becoming able to pay for their means of mobility (car).
  • Society supports a far-flung urban system through investments in roads and railways.

Federal aid to housing encouraged building single-detached family houses in suburban sites.

  • Transfer of retail shopping malls from downtown to suburbs added attractiveness to suburban living.
  • Perceived advantages of buying suburban homes by young couples.

Socio-Spatial Effects

  • Suburbanization has given rise to the metropolitan area comprising
    • the mother or core city
    • several smaller cities / towns functionally linked with or dependent on the mother city
  • Late 20th century suburbanization is characterized by “sprawl” development

Suburban sprawl described

  • Scattered on “leapfrog” development.
  • Auto-oriented commercial strips along roadsides in the urban fringe.
  • Large expanses of low-density, single-use development which isolates living, working and shopping places from each other.
  • Absence of civic traditions and a sense of community.

Problems associated with suburbanization affecting the poor

  • Loss of jobs in inner cities
    • Inner cities shifted from manufacturing to business and office locations; jobs changed from blue collar to white collar.
    • Inner city residents lost their manufacturing jobs but the new jobs nearest to their residence are those they are least capable of filling.
    • Suburban flight of high income whites meant loss of a source of basic entry jobs for female domestics and male yard workers.

Longer journeys to work

    • Hard core unemployed lack automobiles for driving to work hence, are less preferred by suburban employers.
    • Inner city residents who find suburban jobs are adversely affected by lack of transportation, inadequate public transit routing, and excessive costs in time and money.
    • Reverse commuting disadvantageous to the poor in the inner city.
    • Car-less suburban poor are disadvantaged

Fiscal crisis in inner cities

    • Suburban flight of rich residents depresses rents and tax revenues of core local authorities.
    • The poor are left behind and suffer from reduced urban services.
    • Additional poor move in to take advantage of declining rent, competing for diminishing urban services.
    • New investors are unwilling to invest in areas of decline making jobs harder to find.

Progressive loss of farm lands

    • More severely felt in land-short countries where many of the poor are farmers whose lands are being converted to residential subdivisions and industrial estates.
  • Unavailable housing in suburbs
    • Cost of housing and zoning restrictions in sub-urban subdivisions keep low-income workers out of the suburbs

Formal Exclusionary Policies of Suburban Authorities

  • Large-lot zoning - large lots required effectively excludes the low-income families
  • Exclusion of multiple dwellings - assures uniformity of residents (high-income only)
  • Minimum floor areas - spacious homes are mandated, unaffordable to the poor
  • High subdivision requirements - specification of architectural style, landscape guidelines, and underground utilities.

Informal Strategies of Suburban Communities to Reinforce Written Rules

  • Public hearings
  • Pickets, demonstrations
  • Boycotts
  • Support by national citizen-advocate groups
  • Legal threats, lawsuits
  • Sit-ins
  • Referendum
  • Influencing sympathetic politicians

Some Smart Solutions

  • British policy of urban containment
    • Green belt policy
    • New and expanded towns
    • Mass transit systems
  • French Suburbanization
    • Reserves the city center for the gentry.
    • Working class are moved to suburban industrial belts.

3.I.4 Suburbanization, Urban Fringe Development and the Poor


American ideas

    • Strong central cities and “infill” development
    • Compact and transit-oriented development
    • Maintaining agriculture and open space
    • Taming superstores
    • Better suburban workplaces
    • Removal of government policies that contribute to exclusion of low-income groups from suburbia