Bogart, William T.: Don't Call it Sprawl: Metropolitan Structure in the Twenty-First Century.
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Subject:||Books (Book reviews)|
|Publication:||Name: Canadian Journal of Urban Research Publisher: Institute of Urban Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Institute of Urban Studies ISSN: 1188-3774|
|Issue:||Date: Summer, 2009 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 1|
|Topic:||NamedWork: Don't Call It Sprawl: Metropolitan Structure in the Twenty-First Century (Nonfiction work)|
|Persons:||Reviewee: Bogart, William T.|
Bogart, William T.
Don't Call it Sprawl: Metropolitan Structure in the Twenty-First Century.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 196 pp.
The city of today is the result of someone's answer to the problems of yesterday. Because of this, William Bogart argues, one cannot describe a city in a specific moment in time and call it "sprawl" as cities, settlements, and rural areas evolve over time.
The primary purpose of this publication is to convince the reader, through economic analysis of historical trends in metropolitan development, that the use of the term "sprawl" is not helpful in understanding the structure of cities around the world. A quotation relating to some historic precedent precedes most sections and is used to set the context for the upcoming analysis by relating that history to today and to the future.
Largely geared towards economists, the book is ripe with data, statistics, and in-depth discussions of those data sets, using economic analysis and deconstruction. The author does a convincing job of setting out historical data about a sampling of cities, primarily in the United States, in various stages of their development. An American perspective dominates the book, but the author himself points to this as a constraint on his argument. The benefit is that within the United States there exists a cross section of metropolitan areas in different stages of development. Using that cross section, and applying commonly held beliefs, e.g. 'that Los Angeles is the most sprawling metropolitan area which is rife with negative consequences', the author is able to compare metropolitan areas using economic data and analysis to lay quiet most of those arguments, showing that they are largely based on anecdotal evidence.
Bogart bases his analysis on three premises: an emphasis on examining the connections between different parts of metropolitan areas; that mass transit was only dominant for a certain period of time as the solution to mobility needs, and that its time has now passed; and that the development of a metropolitan area is so gradual that these changes cannot be perceived if one only looks at a specific time in the recent past.
It is difficult to dispute the premise that, to look forward, we must analyze what has transpired in the post. Historical trends are valuable indicators of where we are going and the same holds true for metropolitan development. However, by using economic data concerning taxes, profits, location of commercial vs. residential uses the author demonstrates that what may be commonly referred to as "sprawl" is really just a natural phenomenon in the evolution of metropolitan structure.
T.J. Cieciura, Registered Professional Planner
Design Plan Services Inc.
Town Planning Consultants
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