Sprawl: A Compact History (Google eBook)

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - History - 306 pages
17 Reviews
As anyone who has flown into Los Angeles at dusk or Houston at midday knows, urban areas today defy traditional notions of what a city is. Our old definitions of urban, suburban, and rural fail to capture the complexity of these vast regions with their superhighways, subdivisions, industrial areas, office parks, and resort areas pushing far out into the countryside. Detractors call it sprawl and assert that it is economically inefficient, socially inequitable, environmentally irresponsible, and aesthetically ugly. Robert Bruegmann calls it a logical consequence of economic growth and the democratization of society, with benefits that urban planners have failed to recognize.

In his incisive history of the expanded city, Bruegmann overturns every assumption we have about sprawl. Taking a long view of urban development, he demonstrates that sprawl is neither recent nor particularly American but as old as cities themselves, just as characteristic of ancient Rome and eighteenth-century Paris as it is of Atlanta or Los Angeles. Nor is sprawl the disaster claimed by many contemporary observers. Although sprawl, like any settlement pattern, has undoubtedly produced problems that must be addressed, it has also provided millions of people with the kinds of mobility, privacy, and choice that were once the exclusive prerogatives of the rich and powerful.

The first major book to strip urban sprawl of its pejorative connotations, Sprawl offers a completely new vision of the city and its growth. Bruegmann leads readers to the powerful conclusion that "in its immense complexity and constant change, the city-whether dense and concentrated at its core, looser and more sprawling in suburbia, or in the vast tracts of exurban penumbra that extend dozens, even hundreds, of miles-is the grandest and most marvelous work of mankind."

“Largely missing from this debate [over sprawl] has been a sound and reasoned history of this pattern of living. With Robert Bruegmann’s Sprawl: A Compact History, we now have one. What a pleasure it is: well-written, accessible and eager to challenge the current cant about sprawl.”—Joel Kotkin, The Wall Street Journal
 
“There are scores of books offering ‘solutions’ to sprawl. Their authors would do well to read this book.”—Witold Rybczynski, Slate
  

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Review: Sprawl: A Compact History

User Review  - Rachel Barnhart - Goodreads

I have never seen someone use so many "it may be" and "it is possible that" type phrases to argue a point. You didn't convince me, Bruegmann. Read full review

Review: Sprawl: A Compact History

User Review  - Gordon Howard - Goodreads

Very well-written book - has arguments that opponents of sprawl must answer to make their case. Most important point made is in last chapter - the need to allow choice in where we want to live. My ... Read full review

Contents

three campaigns against sprawl
113
remedies for sprawl
167
Some Conclusion
220
Acknowledgments
226
Notes
231
Bibliographic Essay
277
Index
281
Copyright

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Page 32 - Indeed, it is not too much to say that the London citizen of the year 2000 AD may have a choice of nearly all England and Wales south of Nottingham and east of Exeter as his suburb...

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About the author (2008)

Robert Bruegmann is chair of and professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago as well as professor in the School of Architecture and the Program in Urban Planning. His many books include The Architects and the City: Holabird & Roche of Chicago, 1880-1918, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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