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City and Environment

Ali Christopher; Modarres Boone

Publication Year: 2006

For the first time in history, more than half the people of the world live in cities. Comprehending the impact of this widespread urbanization requires an awareness of the complex relationships between cities and natural ecosystems. This innovative book moves beyond the anti-urban lamentations that often dominate today's academic discourse to examine the evolution of cities and to illuminate the roles that humans play in shaping their environments, both natural and constructed. Christopher G. Boone and Ali Modarres argue that understanding the multiple forces of urbanization requires a holistic approach to the interactions of social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental factors. Without casting judgments, City and Environment seeks to engage readers in an exploration of cities from a truly global perspective. Throughout, it illuminates the social-ecological systems of cities not as an academic exercise—although informing academic audiences is one of its goals—but ultimately to help transform cities into livable and ecologically sustainable environments.

Published by: Temple University Press

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xv

IN A RECENT ISSUE of The New Yorker, Manhattan was described as the greenest city in the United States. Dense population, high land values, and historical legacies of development have created a city that is difficult for driving but great for public transit, nearly impossible for detached housing but well suited to smaller apartments, terrible for parking but ideal for walking, rotten for big ...

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pp. xvii

THE PRODUCTION OF any book requires the attention and support of many individuals. We especially thank our thoughtful reviewers, whose comments and insights helped us improve the content of the book, Peter Wissoker, who helped us get through the process, and Alex Holzman for seeing us through the completion of the final manuscript. ...

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1. Urban Morphology and the Shaping of an Urban Ideal

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pp. 1-37

CITIES ARE the greatest of human inventions. They embody our histories and manifest our technological innovations, cultural and social interactions, economic structures, political systems, and our respect for (or fear of) deities. Cities contain our imagined communities, our socially constructed identities, and the spaces that shape our daily activities. ...

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2. Population, Urbanization, and Environment

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pp. 38-76

IT IS DIFFICULT to discuss population without referring to three interrelated dimensions: magnitude, space, and time. Anyone engaged in population policy matters knows that one cannot make a convincing argument about population growth without some reference to the spatial and temporal specificity of growth, which highlights the differential nature of population impacts from one place to another. ...

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3. Feeding Cities That Consume Farmland

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pp. 77-94

URBAN SPRAWL is derided by critics as wasteful. Low-density suburban development generally leads to an inefficient use of resources. Services such as water and sewers are more expensive because longer lines serve fewer people than in densely settled cities. Public transit is inefficient for the same reasons—traveling longer distances through ...

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4. Urban Infrastructure: Living with the Consequences of Past Decisions and Opportunities for the Future

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pp. 95-133

FEW URBANITES think much about the network of infrastructure necessary to sustain city life, except when it stops functioning. A clogged sewer, garbage strike, road under construction, power outage, or cut telephone line are rude reminders of our dependence on infrastructure. The engineering works that make the city livable also alter the natural ...

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5. Healthy Cities and Environmental Justice

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pp. 134-159

STRONG ANTIURBANIST sentiment, especially in North America, is tied in part to the belief that cities are polluted, unhealthy places to live. The clean air and bright blue skies of the countryside are one reason people flee the city, if only as far as the suburbs (Kaplan 2001; Rybczynski 1995). Even though that flight, usually by automobile, contributes ...

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6. Green Spaces, Green Governance, and Planning

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pp. 160-189

ONLY FROM the window of an airplane does it become apparent that U.S. cities are often heavily forested while surrounding areas are not. On average, more than a quarter of urban land is covered by trees (Nowak et al. 2001). Tree cover is especially apparent on the older fringes of cities, where pressure on land is not as great as in the center, and where time has given trees a chance to grow large canopies. ...


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pp. 191-212


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pp. 213-221

E-ISBN-13: 9781439904244

Publication Year: 2006