Academic journal article The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

City and Country: An Interdisciplinary Collection

Academic journal article The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

City and Country: An Interdisciplinary Collection

Article excerpt

In 1883, the social reformer Henry George complained that "the cities grow, unwholesomely crowding people together till they are packed in tiers, family above family, so are they [also] unwholesomely separated in the country." Many other social thinkers expressed alarm at the manner in which the migrations to the city robbed humans of the gratifications that are so necessary to both health and dignity. Today, the problems of suburban sprawl, country greenfields, traffic congestion, and ghostly Edge Cities springing up at highway intersections seems to have confounded, submerged, and overwhelmed George's late nineteenth-century world of stark contrasts and simple dichotomies. The monocentric city model that informed George's thoughts also informed Johann von Thuenen's influential model of land use. The urban reformers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries--a group that includes Ebenezer Howard and Patrick Geddes of the "garden city" movement fame--carried over the monocentric city paradigm and pondered wha t it implied for reform. This pattern of thinking informed the historical studies about the origins of the city in history especially under the towering influence of Lewis Murnford. Mumford's architectural criticisms and insights about civic space influenced the (Chicago) Prairie school of modern architecture identified with Frank Lloyd Wright. In recent years, the monocentric model has given way to the "the polycentric pattern of urban development."

Polycentricism now characterizes most of the cities in the world today as captured by the sophisticated density functions that Edwin S. Mills and others have prepared. The irregularity of the resulting spatial forms, and the politicians' stubborn resistance to value-based taxation of land values have spawned an enormous policy-oriented literature. …

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