Are more conservative cities more sprawled?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by furcalchick, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. macrumors 68020

    furcalchick

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    South Florida
    #1
    over the years, i've noticed in general that the most liberal cities in the country (new york, boston, san fran) are for the most part self sufficient and anyone could live in those cities without a car. i've also noticed the most conservative cities in the country (dallas, southern cites, etc) have some of the worst sprawl problems anywhere. i'm also aware of when these cities were established, but there was a theme that the more liberal cities (as in the makeup of the city in general) had more public transport options than the more conservative cities in general. because i also know many conservatives say that using more cars and suburb access means more freedom to choose a lifestyle, while the carless say they need more ways to get around than a car, and i would argue that more liberals would go carless. (yes, i'm making some generalizations here, doing to make a point, i know there are exceptions) valid theory?
     
  2. macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    May 21, 2007
    #2
    I object to San Francisco. Aside from downtown and a few other areas, public transit the likes of which you're thinking of don't exist in SF. SF only has about 10% (less actually) of the Bay Area's population. Most people who work in SF travel for about 45-60 minutes into the city. Compared to other major population centers, SF is quite sprawly.

    Also, I can't believe you left out Chicago!:p It's quite liberal and actually has excellent public transit (I'm jealous).

    Lastly, where did you get the idea that Dallas was conservative? It has been the historic stronghold of the Democrats during the past several election cycles. It is also one of the most gay-friendly cities around (according to a story in US News a few months ago).

    HOWEVER, your general assertion is correct. LA is less liberal than NY or Chicago, but it is still more liberal than the average American city. What you highlighted is actually the difference between a densely populated place and a sparsely populated place.

    It's really quite simple in political terms. The more people you have, the more ideas and view points you gather. As business relies more upon dollars and cents (rather than religious or other views), people in larger cities adapt to newer cultures and ideas as a mode of survival. This trend has held true for millennia.
     
  3. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #3
    I think what you are noticing is that the more urban places tend to be less conservative. This is a fairly constant characteristic of urban vs. suburban places at least since the post-World War II period, when the most affluent and mobile Americans began abandoning the big cities.
     
  4. macrumors demi-god

    LethalWolfe

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    #4
    I don't think you are going to find very many places more liberal, full of sprawl, and lacking public transpo than Los Angeles.


    Lethal
     
  5. macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

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    #5
    i know australia is VERY conservative and the australian lifestyle is that of a sprawled urban centre

    i think in a densely populated area, ideas can travel quicker (TV is not a means to transmit ideas, only rupert murdochs opinion), as people are more in contact with eachother

    i think society needs a balance of the two, but generally the OP's observation would seem to be correct
     
  6. macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #6
    It has less to do with ideas traveling than it does being exposed to new paradigms. Someone in a sparsely populated place is less likely to encounter someone of a different race, religion, or belief, and as a result, does not have to consider other points of view. Meeting people who disagree with you helps you understand new ideas and tolerate them (even if you don't accept them).
    Does society really need a balance of sprawly areas? Urban sprawl leads to more pollution, more energy consumption and waste, and natural habitat destruction. What's actually best for the World and for society is more densely populated areas which can cut down on wasted resources.
     
  7. SMM
    macrumors 65816

    SMM

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    #7
    I think if I were studying this as a project, I would look at how much emphasis, and effort, was allocated to sound urban planning. There is an old saying, "You get what you pay for". Those cities who believe in small government and low taxes will often have poor plans. However, if the people are willing to accept this, then they have received what they wanted. The cities which want a better job done, pay for it and get the rewards. It is a matter of choice.
     
  8. macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

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    #8
    that's what i meant when i said ideas :p


    you can have urban sprawl that is *relatively* environmentally friendly.........the point i was trying to make was that 'socially' we need a balance between tradition and new ideas...because either on its own is self destroying
     
  9. macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #9
    Yeah, how could you forget Chicago? I love it here and haven't had a car for going on 10 years. You may think that cars represent freedom, but here they're a hindrance. I love being free from car payments, insurance, gas prices, etc.
     
  10. macrumors newbie

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    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #10
    San Francisco cannot sprawl. It's constrained by the geography. Austin, Texas, sprawls like crazy--and it's a liberal bastion.

    Just generalizing: Consider the demographic background of many major cities. The post-Civil War growth and that of the 20th century was from the idea of, "Go to the city, and get a GOOD job." IOW, the poorer among us.

    Politicians want votes and so they promise goodies from the public coffers. Since promising AFDC or health care or other desirable programs are indeed vote-getters, city voters are more in favor of these and the other programs about which we've argued here. "If some's good, more's better" and the numbers of public-coffer programs increase--regardless of efficacy.

    Rural people, in general, must be more independent and self-sufficient. They have no choice, by their very lifestyles. No government program can make it rain or make crops and grass grow. Small town businessmen depend on business activity which is very much up and down with weather, so they, too, tend to be cautious and conservative.

    Factor in such psychological efforts as what I call "Naderism", where if we just pass enough laws and write enough regulations we'll have a safe, warm, snuggly world in which to live. We have become a risk-averse society--as is obvious from the daily papers. By and large, however, rural and small-town folks don't believe it.

    Sprawl, as such, though, is partially due to geography, as the San Francisco example. Or Key West, for that matter. The caveat is that some sprawl occurred as Whitey fled the central cities. Some sprawl has occurred with the creation of bedroom communities to avoid big-city taxation.

    Dallas sprawl has come about with job creation and a willingness of farmers to cash out at high land prices.

    We sold out to Austin sprawl in 1980. Ranch income per acre, gross, was at most $50/acre/year. (One cow/calf per eight acres; $400 per calf.) When a developer offers $6,000/acre, why say no? You can invest that $6,000 and equal the net ranch income while you sleep. That's happened in Denver and many other sprawl-growth places.

    'Rat
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 68020

    furcalchick

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    Dec 19, 2006
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    South Florida
    #11
    i've believed for years cars were more of a burden than a freedom when you have to depend on one to live on. i personally don't like cars and would rather live in a city where i don't need one. south florida is possibly one of the worst places to have no car, because of the sprawl and you seem to hear of cars hitting bikers more and i've had a bunch of close calls riding my bike in the better areas.

    and don't forget, in about 5 years once oil probably becomes more sparse, the car expenses will be over the top. that is one of the reasons i didn't get a car.

    and no, i didn't forget chicago (actually lived north of there for about 3 years, nice city), just didn't want to place a city i wasn't 100% sure on the issue.
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #12
    I've spent the last 5 years studying cities and architecture as an architecture student and I now work for an office that does a lot of urban design. One theory is that your surroundings influences your behavior. If you "live" in a car driving on a freeway 2-3 hours a day, it influences your priorities away from things that their urban counterpart finds important as they walk, take the bus/train or ride their bike. The priority of the car diminishes everything about what's nice in a city once you get out of the car. Huge parking lots, 6 lane roads, gigantic intersections are all fine in the car, but when you get out, it's a nightmare.

    The person who doesn't take a car to work will care about everything that the human needs, not the car. This in turn influences how cities are designed, which attracts more people not to take their car, which in turn influences the cities design even further. It's a cyclical phenomenon in either situation.
     
  13. macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    May 21, 2007
    #13
    Bingo. Cars are a major obstacle in most people's lives. Unfortunately, many people are left with few options in this country.

    Umm...out of curiosity, when was the last time you've been to SF? It's crazy how far one has to drive to make it back "into" the city. Like I posted above, most of the Bay Area's population is concentrated in suburbs which are quite far from SF or Oakland (or even San Jose). Most Bay Area commuters spend over 1.5 hours in traffic and travel over 40 miles to get to work. That sure sounds like sprawl to me.

    PS: even though it's unsafe to build in certain areas of the Bay Area, home developers have chosen to ignore such risks and build anyway (and buyers don't seem to care either :rolleyes:).
     
  14. macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    New York
    #14
    I thought of Phoenix the whole time I was reading this. This is an incredibly poorly planned city, and a pretty conservative one at that. We have almost nothing in terms of public transportation. Currently, we have a bus line with no lines that run even close to any suburbs (because those that live in the suburbs think the only people that use busses are criminals and homeless people). We have a light-rail opening in a few years, but it will have a very very short route when it first opens. We have no bike-lanes on the street unless you get downtown Phoenix or to Tempe (which I wish we did. I get things yelled at me almost every day while riding my bike).

    I hate this city.
     
  15. macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #15
    Part of the reason the US has so much urban sprawl is it is a very young nation. Unlike European cities that built up long before the invention of the car things where already compact by the time people even started coming to the US. This also explains why in the New England area a lot of those cities you can get by with out a car.
    Add that to the fact that for the longest time people farmed in the US and that cause everything to spread out. By the time the west was built up the car started being a much larger factor.

    Lastly the US is big with a lot of land per capita. The continual US is larger than all of Europe and has a smaller population to boot. This makes land cheap and lets us has more area to build on an spread out. This makes public transportation very difficult to make cost effective. It requires it to cover more of an area with few people.
     
  16. macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #16
    I wouldn't even classify Phoenix as a city. It's an area of urban sprawl. City implies some sort of civic presence and dignity. I had not known that is where you are from, so now I can understand your desire to leave the US altogether.

    This is exactly why it is so sprawling. If you go into the historic cities of America, they are very similar to Europe but very much "American" at the same time. The car changed everything at a very critical point in our history. Some for good, but mostly for bad.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #17
    Oh what a relief. If only other Phoenicians would realize the same. I feel so alone here, especially when I share my thoughts about Phoenix with others. A lot of people that live here love it; and I have NO ****ing clue why.
     
  18. macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #18
    Maybe if they left Phoenix for awhile they'd change their mind. I spent a month in Europe which changed my life forever. We spent 10 days in Rome and walked 30 miles (probably more) while we were there and it was the most incredible experience of my life.

    Living in Pasadena has actually been one of the best things I've done. It's expensive where I live, but for quality of life it is worth it. I have an 8 minute walk to work and everything from my dentist, doctor, grocery store, video store, movie theater, 40 restaurants, even an Apple store all with in a 10 minute walk or a 15 minute bike ride (that's how long it took me to get to my dentist). My wife and I only own one car which I drive maybe once a week. The rest of LA is a different story, but some cities in the LA area still have some semblance of an actual civic city.

    You are not crazy, those poor poeple around you have just been brainwashed into think the American dream is to own a fancy car and a big house. The American dream is to be happy, and I am more than happy to not live in sprawling suburbia.
     
  19. macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #19
    you missed the other part. in the US there is a LOT of land per capita. This is another huge factor in why people spread out. Land is cheap
     
  20. macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #20
    But we were only able to spread out so much because of the car. Farms were the only sprawling thing before the car. First American cities were very, very dense, even with the abundance of land.

    Just because we have so much land should not have given us the thought to exploit and waste land. Our nonchalant attitude about wasting land just because we have so much of it is disheartening.

    That wasn't directed at anyone by the way
     
  21. macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    Oct 9, 2006
    #21
    true the car allowed us to do that but even so look at Europe and japan. Even with the car they can not spread out. Land cost way to much to allow for it. I was trying to point out that the simple land area plays a huge part in allowing for it.

    Even before the car people in the US where more spread than most other places in the world for the simple fact it was very easy and cheap to do so.

    that being said I personally one day want to own a house and have some space to spread out. For me personally having a car is not an option for the career field I am entering I need the car just to get to work. it will be impossible for me to really live close to where I work for a very long period of time. I am going into constitution management which means my "office" so to speak moves around. That along with I just have to be able to go places at odd times.
     
  22. macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #22
    When I traveled through Europe I noticed that there is plenty of land to be spread out over. It may be expensive, but if they wanted to, they could.

    Before the car, American cities were very geographically spread out, not the cities themselves.

    In the last 15 years, the amount of retail space has doubled per capita and we've only increased in population 15%. We are wasting our resources.

    I'm not even arguing against abolishing cars. While I don't use one, they are needed. My point is that there are tens of millions of people who have jobs that don't require having a car but our society is not set up correctly to be able to let them live without a car. I'm arguing for the ability to have a choice in the matter.
     
  23. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #23
    After the war both Britain and France made concerted efforts to protect their agricultural lands as a matter of national planning policy. The US essentially did just the opposite, by subsidizing suburbanization through the FHA, the GI Bill and federally-funding interstate highway construction.
     
  24. macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #24
    The first step towards rectifying the agoraphobia-inducing crudscape that is the contemporary American built environment of strip mall gulags, franchise fry pits, and huge traffic sewers - would be to take all the stupid, moronic single use "Euclidian" zoning laws that outlaw land use mixture, roll them up real tight, and flush them down the crapper, which incidentally is the exact same place you can find the modern American public realm.
     
  25. macrumors 68000

    latergator116

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    Location:
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    #25
    I think he means the actual city limits, not the whole metropolitan area. Even dense urban cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, New York, etc. have sprawling suburbs.

    I don't think I could ever live in a city (or in any suburb) where a car is required for getting around. Some people might feel "free", but I find it a lot more constraining.
     

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