Urban Sprawl Essay

4196 words - 17 pages

Introduction
An emerging issue is that of urban sprawl. While some aspects of urban sprawl has been seen since ancient times, this phenomenon has started gaining the most momentum in the past century, aided by the advancement of technology, especially with the rise of mass produced automobiles, houses and highway systems. Many people unknowingly contribute to this environmental problem, as is the nature of it. Urban sprawl deals with the growth of the suburbs, the area between the urban and rural areas of a city. Most of America’s largest cities and states, in terms of population, are prime examples of urban sprawl. Opponents of urban sprawl usually cite the government as a major cause of sprawl. The government may be a major catalyst of sprawl in the present day, but history of sprawl dates back to mainly an economic and social root rather than political. Ironically, urban sprawl is also known as rural sprawl; the terms just refer to the spreading of urban population and area into rural areas (Cornell University). With the encroachment of human development comes the destruction of wilderness areas, something that is commonly known to contribute to a wide variety of environmental problems. Automobiles are also a major part of sprawl, contributing to the depleting supply of global oil and the addition of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Noticing these negative effects, some communities around the country and the world are taking measures to reduce their city’s sprawl, ultimately saving the environment.

History and Description of Urban Sprawl
The roots of the suburbs and can be seen in thousands of years ago in Ancient Rome, where the city was incredibly crowded and dense inside the city walls. It had the population of present-day Dallas, but with a much smaller land area. Rome had major class differences, and like the present day, alike classes would live around their like class. The wealthiest often would have the most space in the city, while the class directly below them would be cramped within the city yet separate from the wealthiest of them all. This cramped lifestyle was not very pleasing to majority of the population, yet many chose to live there because of necessity. The outsides of the city walls, known as the suburbia, housed the people that could not afford life inside the city. Despite poor dwellings in the suburban areas, people still praised and wrote about the pleasant suburban life, as they could escape the atrocious, cramped and uncomfortable city. The sprawling of the urban population became more apparent in London a few centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, where people now had money to build or buy houses outside the city limits. These areas were much cleaner and quieter than the main city, similar to the characteristics of cities in Rome. (Bruegmann)
In America, sprawl became much more noticeable in the 1950s. The first noticeable and prominent example of the growth of the suburbs in America is Levittown, built...

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