Modernizing Urban Land Policy

Modernizing Urban Land Policy

Modernizing Urban Land Policy

Modernizing Urban Land Policy

Excerpt

MARION CLAWSON

The city, as a form of human settlement, is changing. And as it changes, urban land policy must also change. But to what end. and how? Who will direct the new urban land policy?

Barring some wholly new development not now foreseen, or perhaps foreseeable, the population of the United States will continue to concentrate in metropolitan areas. The nonmetropolitan areas, which contain no city as large as 50,000 but many small cities and most of the nation's open country, are essentially stagnant. Even the building of new towns on a large scale (a development that seems unlikely) would probably not change this situation. There is ample room for many new towns within present metropolitan areas, and these areas might well be the most economic location for them.

On the metropolitan scale, the population movement is outward from city center to suburb, and has been for much longer than is often realized. Census data on city populations conceal the fact that since 1880 at least, and probably earlier, city boundaries have pushed outward almost as fast as population has increased. The decentralization is far more than merely numbers of people, and far more than simple residences for them. Taxable wealth and investable capital have also moved outward; so have jobs, and retail trade; and, perhaps most serious of all, so have social and political leadership. Moreover, the outward trend holds for blacks as well as for whites. A preoccupation with overall statistics on racial change in the older urban cores has obscured the significant migration of middle- and upper-income blacks to the suburbs -- a movement that is likely to continue and to accelerate.

All this raises significant questions as to the future form of the American metropolis. One picture has been a black core surrounded by a white ring.

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