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Old 02-03-2003, 11:57 AM
gex gex gex gex is offline
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When did we stop building cities?

I'm under the impression that we don't build cities anymore. We just add on to existing ones. I mean, sure we may create extra city areas, but essentially, it's all part of an already existing metropolitan area. We don't really go somewhere, start putting up some buildings and eventually it's Chicago (or whatever).

So when did we stop making new cities? What's the world's newest city? What's America's newest city? Or am I wrong and just yesterday a group of pioneers set out to an isolated area in Canada and started a new city?

(And here I'm speaking about cities such as Los Angeles as disinguished from San Francisco rather than Los Angeles distinguished from Long Beach.)
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Old 02-03-2003, 12:28 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I think that Las Vegas qualifies as a very new major city. It didn't exist in anywhere near its present form until the second half of the 20th century. It is still one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas of the U.S. Here is the history of Las Vegas: http://www.ci.las-vegas.nv.us/history/default.htm
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Old 02-03-2003, 12:35 PM
garius garius is offline
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IMHO cities tend to "grow" rather than be "planted" - at least here in the UK and (i'd have thought) Europe.

You could probably say, in general terms, that very few cities have been deliberately created here since the Romans were running around bopping heads.

Essentially what happens here in the UK is that eventually a town will develop and grow until it reaches a point when it can apply for the right to be called a "city".

I think there are a number of criteria it needs to fulfil including: (i think) Population size, At least one nationally recognised monument, one nationally recognised famous person/historically important figure, two big places of worship etc. etc.

There is probably a list out there of the criteria if someone has the time or inclination to look. I think relatively recently a couple of towns officially became cities so there are bound to be news reports.
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Old 02-03-2003, 12:36 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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When you say "we" I'm guessing you mean "the US", or do you mean "humanity"?

Shenzhen in China was a tiny village just over a decade ago - now it's got 2 million (?) people in it.

Milton Keynes in the UK was also a little village about 25 years ago - it's just been declared a city by the UK government.
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Old 02-03-2003, 12:37 PM
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From a 1935 grammar school atlas (Rand McNally):

Phoenix, AZ, had a population of 48,000.

Las Vegas appears on the state map, but not on a national railroad map, and it's not even listed in the index so I can't give you a population.
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Old 02-03-2003, 12:39 PM
garius garius is offline
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Milton Keynes! Thats the one!

I knew there was one recently...
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Old 02-03-2003, 12:43 PM
Badtz Maru Badtz Maru is offline
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Thing is, most populated areas in the US have small settlements every 6 miles or so, in part because of the way the land was divided up when opened for colonization (learned a lot about that in a US history class I took at community college last year), and in part because you needed a market for local farmers that they could get to and back in a day with a wagon full of goods. It's hard to find places on the map where it might be practical to have a city where there isn't already a 'city' with a population of 300 or so. Yeah, in the mountains and out west there are vast open spaces, but why build a city in the middle of one when you can go somewhere that already has roads?
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Old 02-03-2003, 12:44 PM
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Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil (replacing Rio de Jainero), was laid out in 1957; Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria (replacing Lagos) was approved in 1976 and built through the 1980's. (There was apparently at least a town by the name of Abuja near the site of the current city; as far as I know Brasilia was entirely new.) (Building a new planned city as a national capital seems to be a fairly common theme; look at Washington, D.C.)

Oak Ridge, Tennessee, although it doesn't quite qualify since it's part of the Knoxville metropolitan area, is an interesting case: the town was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1942 as part of the Manhattan Project. Los Alamos, New Mexico (which is part of the Santa Fe metropolitan area) also owes its existence as anything more than a dude ranch to the Manhattan Project.
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Old 02-03-2003, 12:51 PM
eponymous eponymous is offline
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Re: When did we stop building cities?

Originally posted by gex gex

Quote:
I'm under the impression that we don't build cities anymore. We just add on to existing ones. I mean, sure we may create extra city areas, but essentially, it's all part of an already existing metropolitan area. We don't really go somewhere, start putting up some buildings and eventually it's Chicago (or whatever).
I don't think that's how cities come into existence, generally. Cities usually come into existence by evolving "up" from smaller settlements. There aren't too many instances in human history where huge settlements have been created from scratch.
(See below, though).

Quote:
So when did we stop making new cities?
Cities come into existence all the time (evolving from smaller settlements). Of course, it depends on how one defines "city" - that is, what's the criteria used in differentiating settlements? In most cases, it's an arbitrary minimum population size. In the US, an "urban area" is any settlement that has a population of at least 2500. For settlements of city size, the "metropolitan area" is often used. A metropolitan area in the US is (basically) any area that has a population of at least 50,000 (I'm oversimplying somewhat - there's additional criteria that the US Census Bureau uses in defining what a "metropolitan area" is).

My guess, based on 2000 Census estimates, is that there are over 315 "metropolitan areas" in the US.

Quote:
What's the world's newest city? What's America's newest city? Or am I wrong and just yesterday a group of pioneers set out to an isolated area in Canada and started a new city?
Can't say for certain, but I think you question is asking if there have been instances where whole settlements have been built/establihsed of city size. In the US, I believe Reston, VA and Columbia, MD (from 1950-60s) were planned communities of city size - that is, built from scratch. I can't say for certain whether these were near existing metropolitan areas.

I also beleive that Brazilia, the capital of Brazil, was essentially planned and built from scratch (from 1950s). My understanding was that it was to help foster development of the interior of Brazil.

Likewise, I remembering hearing about the development/building of a city between Bangkok and the international airport (1990s). There was also something similar that took place in Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur (Jayasurya, I think - 80s-90s). However, these cities were planned/built next to preexisting metropolitan centers.

On preview, looks as if MEBuckner beat me on the Brazilia info...
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Old 02-03-2003, 01:00 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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I've been studying this subject for over two decades and used to work as an urban planner, so thank you for giving me an excuse to take a whack as this question. It requires a book to answer, but I'll try to say something meaningful compressed into a few paragraphs.

Humanity has always expanded its base by establishing new settlements. There are the usual myriad of reasons for this, but they boil down into a few major categories. People are either fleeing from something: overpopulation, soil depletion, war, drought or other natural catastrophes, religious or political persecution; or trying to find something: mineral riches, commercial opportunity, better soil, freedom. Or both at once. The one thing that is close to a true universal for all these is the presence of a steady supply of fresh water. Nothing is as important. Available farmland is second, although it is not a necessity when a mineral strike creates a "gold rush" situation.

A settlement can be as small as a single family at first or it could be a village made up of a band traveling together. Favorable places might see a whole series of villages within a few miles of one another.

These places could stay villages forever, but cities are part of an organic process of evolution. One village is located in a more favorable spot, either naturally or because a railroad or canal, e.g., is built next to it. This village begins to grow at a an increasing rate and eventually may encompass all the other villages in the area. This is certainly the way most cities in the U.S. developed.

Nor do they have to be villages for this to happen. After the Erie Canal made New York City the best site to originate trade to the entire Midwest it zoomed past its rivals of Philadelphia and Boston in population. The coming of the telegraph made it possible for stock trading to be concentrated in one spot and that also favored NYC. Its success fed on itself. It later encompassed all of its surrounding villages. Brooklyn was a separate city until 1898, when Manhattan swallowed the other boroughs and became today's NYC. Philadelphia was officially no more than Pennís two square mile tract until the late 19th century when it snatched all the surrounding villages and expanded to 135 square miles.

But it works the other way as well. All the ghost towns in the west are examples of cities failing to compete. Cheyenne was supposed to become a great metropolis because it was the spot where the transcontinental railroad had its great roundhouses and machines shops. It became a city, but other places grew more.

There is one alternative, but it is very rare. Occasionally, throughout history, cities have been formed for political reasons. We know of this from almost the dawn of recorded history. Alexander, e.g., created cities bearing his name throughout his conquered provinces. Only a few of these political cities have ever been sited on places starting from bare soil. Cities need water and transportation links and, even in ancient times, most of the good places already had somebody living there. Washington, D.C. was created on a site that already had Alexandria and Georgetown among other villages. I don't know the history of other politically-created capitals, like Canberra and Brasilia, but I bet that something more than, say, raw jungle existed there first.

So the answer to your question depends on just what you mean by it. If you're asking whether small settlements or towns are turning into cities, the answer is yes, it happens all the time. Scottsdale and Glendale, AZ, Plano and Arlington, TX, and Virginia Beach, VA, each had populations of less than 10,000 in 1950. Garland, TX, Anchorage, AK, and Aurora, CO, all were under 12,000.

But if you are asking whether any cities are popping up out of bare nothingness, out of the influence of current cities, the question has to be: where would you put them? There are currently 261 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the U.S. Any place outside of this is probably on an Indian reservation or protected federal land.

The same has to be true in other countries. You can start a settlement or village outback where nobody lives, but how and why would it grow into a city? Cities emerge for a reason. There might eventually be a reason for a city to grow in the middle of the Gobi or Sahara deserts but we don't have one right now.

And most people simply donít want to go off into the wilds and start a whole new city. They want the comforts of existing jobs, people, and infrastructure. Thatís why people in California live two hours or more away from their jobs, but still add to existing urban conglomerations. In Upstate New York, where a twenty-minute commute is looked at as impossibly arduous, these people are thought nuts, but the attractions of California are obvious sufficient to make this worthwhile for them. We call these distant sites suburbs or exurbs, even though they may be 100 miles from the center city. Weíve essentially defined new city-making out of the vocabulary.

Whew. That was fun. Let me know if you want me to expound some more.

Wow. Wrote too long. A million answers come up on Preview. We seem to be giving much the same speech, though.
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Old 02-03-2003, 01:04 PM
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Orlampa. New city they're trying to build halfway between Tampa and Orlando. You can get half a dozen links from google to it.

...so I guess we're still building them
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Old 02-03-2003, 05:52 PM
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Hijack, but a relevant one: If you were ordered to build three cities in America, each to have a population of more than 1 million within the next decade, what sites would you choose? What are the most important factors other than water supply?
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Old 02-03-2003, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sampiro
Hijack, but a relevant one: If you were ordered to build three cities in America, each to have a population of more than 1 million within the next decade, what sites would you choose? What are the most important factors other than water supply?
chocolate. plenty of chocolate.
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Old 02-03-2003, 06:35 PM
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Just try saying "Chocolate City" and getting away with it. Oprah called Detroit that once and even she got hate mail.
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Old 02-03-2003, 06:37 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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I think if I were to build three cities, I'd try to please as many Americans as possible by naming them Reaganville (honors Reps. and conservatives), Kingland (honors MLK, African-Americans, and liberals), and Real World's Dannyopolis (honors gays, frat boys, pop culture afficianadoes, and drama queens).
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Old 02-03-2003, 06:43 PM
Zagadka Zagadka is offline
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Another example of a city that popped up is, say, Havasu, Arizona. It has a sizable population (though by no means large), imported the London Bridge, and is a popular vacation spot... all because of Parker Dam.

For that matter, the deserts between LA and Havasu or Vegas are littered with the remains of towns (usually mining towns that look like they are from the mid-50s), the beginnings of towns, or towns based around military bases, highway junctions, or for seemingly no reason... some of them are growing alarmingly. I give it 30 years before they run into Los Angeles/Orange County, which is expanding like bread in the oven.
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Old 02-03-2003, 06:48 PM
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Havasu, Arizona
Or, as they seem to prefer it, Lake Havasu City.
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Old 02-03-2003, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Exapno Mapcase
I don't know the history of other politically-created capitals, like Canberra and Brasilia, but I bet that something more than, say, raw jungle existed there first.
In the case of Canberra, I seem to remember there were a couple of houses and, I think, a pub in the area, but generally you could say it was just open farming country. To this day, a lot of people refer to Canberra as "A waste of a good sheep paddock."
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Old 02-03-2003, 08:02 PM
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Originally posted by Sampiro

Quote:
Hijack, but a relevant one: If you were ordered to build three cities in America, each to have a population of more than 1 million within the next decade, what sites would you choose? What are the most important factors other than water supply?
Good question, but I would say it would depend on the primary function of the city. Would it function primarily as an administrative center (i.e. capital)? Then my guess would be one of centralization or proximity to other major population centers.

What if your city is to be a major manufacturing center? Proximity to natural resources as well as markets served would be crucial. Also important would be transport routes/networks. Need to get raw materials/natural resources to factories in city as well as get manufactured goods to major markets in a relatively efficient manner. Also important would be proximity to energy resources. Need to have a readily available source of energy to power all those factories.

What if your city is to be a major tourist center? Here transport (and local infrastructure) I would venture is key. You want to insure that it's relatively easy for people to get to the city. Likewise, you want to make sure that the people who visit the city have a place to stay and can get from point A to point B relatively easy. You want people's stay to be enjoyable so they keep coming back

To summerize, other considerations besides water:

1) proximity to other population centers
2) proximity to major energy resources (e.g river for hydroelectric power).
2) proximity to raw materials and potential markets served
3) proximity to major transport centers or transport networks/corriders
4) locations that have the potential to easily develop needed infrastructure/transport networks
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Old 02-03-2003, 08:09 PM
Zagadka Zagadka is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by KneadToKnow
Or, as they seem to prefer it, Lake Havasu City.
Good for them. What about El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula? That got shortened to El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, then to Los Angeles. Similarly, no one says "I'm going to Lake Havasu City" this weekend.
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Old 02-03-2003, 08:30 PM
X~Slayer(ALE) X~Slayer(ALE) is offline
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A city is created based on its ability to grow. Once a sufficient size is acheived and its taxes can sustain the local govt without burden or detrimental effects to the nearby city helping it grow then it can be an independent city.

Thats the reason why cities grow from other cities. It usually grows from a neighboring city that helps it with its police force, fire department, electricity and so on. Startup towns are hard to capitalize unles you have a surefire money making endeavor. Las vegas did that because gambling sustained it easily.

So to answer the Hijack Question: Beside water, you'll need

**a scalable access to power (electricty)
**some core business to attract and sustain a growing population
**Easy transportaion access for goods, services and people that you need to make your city grow. Such as near a main highway, train routes, an airport, or waterway or port.
**good infrastructure to house, feed, transport and support the population
**attract supporting businesses to help maintain the core business which can become core businesses as well.
**last but not least, lots and lots of capital.
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Old 02-03-2003, 08:31 PM
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It was a pleasure to read your post, Exapno Mapcase.
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Old 02-03-2003, 08:32 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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I'm not trying to start a p!ssing contest with you, Zagadka, I just wanted somebody searching for that town to be able to find it readily. Try searching for "Havasu, AZ" at maps.yahoo.com and tell me what you find.
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Old 02-03-2003, 08:51 PM
Zagadka Zagadka is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by KneadToKnow
I'm not trying to start a p!ssing contest with you, Zagadka, I just wanted somebody searching for that town to be able to find it readily. Try searching for "Havasu, AZ" at maps.yahoo.com and tell me what you find.
I know :-) I was just nitpicking nitpicks. You're right, of course, it is Lake Havasu City, officially and on maps.
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Old 02-03-2003, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheLoadedDog
In the case of Canberra, I seem to remember there were a couple of houses and, I think, a pub in the area, but generally you could say it was just open farming country. To this day, a lot of people refer to Canberra as "A waste of a good sheep paddock."
Correct, there was no real town there, it was quite literally farmland. It was really a number of quite large, self-contained farms that were naturally a bit more concentrated around the Molongolo River

There were a few houses that were submerged when the Molongolo River was dammed and Lake Burley Griffin created (among them my great-uncle's farm house).

The people displaced were moved to a town further north (I think it was Collector, but don't quote me on that)

There's a brief history here.
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Old 02-03-2003, 10:01 PM
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Thanks all for the great answers, especially Exapno Mapcase, whose post was fascinating and as far as I'm concerned, you can expound as much as you want, because whatever you type on the matter, I'll read it.

I am really impressed with Vegas as well - there must have been no one in Nevada until that developed... my map shows Vegas, Reno and not a lot else.

Quote:
originally posted by jjimm
When you say "we" I'm guessing you mean "the US", or do you mean "humanity"?

Shenzhen in China was a tiny village just over a decade ago - now it's got 2 million (?) people in it.
I meant "we" as all of humanity, but I used American examples and asked about America specifically because I'm interested in the US and most people know about the US. It's easier for people to talk about Chicago than Hobart. But other countries are good too... what happened in Shenzhen to promote such a growth spurt?

I guess since my original question was kind of hard to answer, (although many have done it very well), so - are settlements of any size (well larger than a few farms) still being created independent to existing cities? I would guess not in the case of the western world (no room) but how about anywhere else?

And re: Canberra, I believe the govt was looking for a place no more than x km from Sydney and no more than x km from Melbourne, with a suitable location to become a "garden city" and near a supply of fresh water (Molonglo River).
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Old 02-03-2003, 10:41 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Thanks Gex Gex and Muffin. City-building is an absolutely fascinating subject. Cities themselves are an almost fractal environment - the way they grow is almost the same no matter at what stage of their growth you look at. The way large center cities evolve smaller communities around them, as the result of sprawl and population growth - which may be separate political entities but are all part of one economic "city-state" - but become one continuous city mass is very similar in today's Los Angeles but also in yesterday's London. Jane Jacob's The Economy of Cities is the classic text here.

And economics is the answer to where people choose to live. As world population keeps growing by the hundreds of millions each year, people need to make the economic choice - do I stay in a crowded center city or do I strike off on my own for a less crowded site? It was once expected that many "third-world" capitals would grow to reach 30 million people by now. It didn't happen, partly because birth rates go down as median income rises and because without a superb infrastructure, cities can get too large to work even minimally. That seems to be why greater Tokyo, as advanced an infrastructure in a compact area as there is in the world, is the only 30 million cityscape.

If new cities do rise - and the Chinese seem to be making a concerted effort to grow their cities and move people away from farming - it will be for economic reasons and that will change as economic trends do over the next century. I think cities will continue to surprise us as they have for millennia.
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Old 02-04-2003, 12:54 AM
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Re: When did we stop building cities?

Quote:
Originally posted by gex gex
I'm under the impression that we don't build cities anymore. We just add on to existing ones. I mean, sure we may create extra city areas, but essentially, it's all part of an already existing metropolitan area. We don't really go somewhere, start putting up some buildings and eventually it's Chicago (or whatever).
There's plenty of major metropolitan areas that, some 40 or 50 years ago, were just specks on the map ... Orlando, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Fresno, Huntsville, Las Vegas amd Palm Springs come to mind. Around that same time, cities like Houston, Dallas, Miami and Atlanta were in the same league as Buffalo and Rochester. Wait another 40 years, and you'll wonder where the hell the major metropolises of Las Cruces, Fort Collins, St. George, Naples and Grand Junction came from.

You might also ponder why there's more people living in Asheville than Cleveland. Lots of once-mighty, up-and-coming cities with more than their fair share of Gilded-age buzz stalled around the turn of the last century; consider Utica, Williamsport, and St. Joseph. They were the Boulders of the era; incredibly wealthy, and booming beyond belief, until ... something ... happened.

Major cities were, until the early 1900s, established at break-in-bulk points. With the advent of air conditioning, Interstate highways and cheap telecommunications, break-in-bulk points became irrelevant.
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Old 02-04-2003, 12:59 AM
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By the way, I forgot to post my sig. Check out the bulletin board there, where you'll have a ton of urban planners who would love to answer your question.
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Old 02-04-2003, 01:16 AM
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Old 02-04-2003, 01:46 AM
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**Peers into her crystal ball***

The next major city will be built somewhere along the equator because that's where the space elevator has to be built in order to reach a geosynchronous orbit. The primary supporting industry will be the production of carbon nano-tubing.
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Old 02-04-2003, 01:51 AM
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I'm not sure if you'd count it as a city, or as independent of surrounding urban development, but Disney pretty much created Celebration, Florida, out of scratch.
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Old 02-04-2003, 05:25 AM
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Quote:
what happened in Shenzhen to promote such a growth spurt?
Proximity to the Hong Kong border. The 1980s Chinese adoption of capitalism, added to the 1997 handover of Hong Kong, stimulated enormous inward migration, and eventually the big money got in there and started putting up skyscrapers. It was home to the second-ever Chinese McDonalds, too. I don't know how much of its growth was planned by the Chinese government, and how much of it just happened.
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Old 02-04-2003, 08:24 AM
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Originally posted by Manatee
I'm not sure if you'd count it as a city, or as independent of surrounding urban development, but Disney pretty much created Celebration, Florida, out of scratch.
Celebration is an unincorporated portion of Osceola County, like any other subdivision there. It's just a subdivision designed on New Urbanist principles. Not really a new city, IMHO.
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Old 02-04-2003, 08:32 AM
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Not to post-pad, but here's how I interpret the OP:

New city: includes a new metropolitan area, on the order of what could be considered a medium-to-largeish city, in a place where there was either no city, or only a small settlement. Classic examples of new cities in the late 20th century include Las Vegas, Nevada and Orlando, Florida; major metropolitan areas with populations of around 1,500,000 where only 50 years before, they were just small towns.

A new city does not include edge cities (Overland Park, Kansas; Tysons Corner, Virginia, etc.), suburbs of existing cities (Aurora, Colorado; Mesa, Arizona; etc.), or newly incorporated cities that may not have the population or amenities to be considered medium or large cities.
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Old 02-04-2003, 12:19 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Re: Re: When did we stop building cities?

Quote:
Originally posted by elmwood
You might also ponder why there's more people living in Asheville than Cleveland.
Just wait fifty years till the west runs out of fresh water and everybody moves back to the North Coast!

Since I've been harping on the importance of economics in the establishing of new cities, I have to agree wholeheartedly with your analysis of cities to come, with only the caveat that it is very, very hard to predict the future and that no one in 1903 could possibly have foreseen the city structures of 2003.

You mention edge cities, a term that people outside the profession may not understand. It was popularized by Joel Garreau's pioneering book, looking at the ways economic conglomerations were springing up around central cities. It's a decade old now, but I would still recommend it if you want to understand the modern evolution of metropolitan cityscapes.
  #37  
Old 02-04-2003, 12:25 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Which do you think has affected the layout of cities the most: automobiles, electricity, or artillery?

Do you think the Internet will spark a renaissance in smaller communities? (I know that I couldn't live in the city of 20,000 that I live in if I didn't have online bookstores, message boards, and newspapers; others have credited chat rooms, streaming porn, and Napster & its descendants to making the burbs bearable.)
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