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Urban Decline Of Major U.S. Cities
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||Urban Decline Of Major U.S. Cities
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Urban Decline of Major U.S. Cities
This paper will examine the extent and severity with which the industrial cities of the United States are declining
socially as technological sophistication increases, under the weight of the twenty-first century. The paper also
investigates the causes and some of the effects of the migration from the modern city, and how that migration is can
be viewed as both a cause and effect of the social and economic degradation of the modern city.
Imagine being alive about one hundred years ago, near the forefront of the industrial revolution in the United States.
This was a time when new discoveries and technologies were sweeping across the United States at a tremendous
rate. Depending on availability of resources, some cities began to take on an immense size and population. Now
consider these same cities in the present day, as fewer humans are needed to maintain the processes of the city.
"These industrial cities are clearly a by-product of the industrial revolution, and their decline is no less ancillary to
contemporary technological change (Peterson, 1985, 4)." In other words, the major industrial cities in the U.S. are
becoming less and less dependent upon a workforce to manage the workload of the city. As industries of these cities
become more modernized, and fewer men and women are needed to maintain the industries, a migration away from
the city occurs for the American workforce.
A definition of urban decline is now in order. "The term 'urban decline' embodies the idea that declining cities are
cities in trouble, cities not as economically or socially healthy as they used to be or as they should be (Kariel,
There are many reasons for this social decline in U.S. cities. One of the major considerations, of course, is the spatial
organization of the "hi-tech city." This organization consists of a "C.B.D.", or Central Business District at the heart
of the city. An area of "low-income" housing immediately surrounds the C.B.D. in most cities. Continuing outward
from here are the surrounding suburbs. The original intent of this organization allowed industry to house its
workforce very close to the manufacturing plants. This worked very well in the past, but in the twentieth century the
organization is folding into itself. The infrastructure of the city does not cater to the needs of its inhabitants nearly as
well today. One of the main reasons for this is the utilization use of private automobiles, as well as public
transportation. Ownership of an automobile, or access to a decent public transportation system, enables the work
force to travel to the workplace instead of having!
to live in its direct vicinity.
Other factors that have contributed to the decline of modern cities include increasing crime rates, new available
housing opportunities in suburban areas, poor public education, and air pollution. Together, these factors have made
the area directly outside the C.B.D. an "undesirable" place to inhabit, especially if personal income allows a
migration away from the older inner-city neighborhoods.
As a result of this migration by those who can and want to leave the heart of the city, suburban areas are continuing
to grow at the expense of further social decay in the inner city neighborhoods. Although many attempts are being
made to redevelop the older housing of the inner cities, there is still a steady migration to more rural and suburban
areas (Downs, 1982). This concentration of low-income housing inhabited largely by under-educated, low-skilled
people places a tremendous weight upon the authorities of the city to support them. "Over one fifth of all residents in
some cities live on public assistance. Thousands of relatively affluent households, especially those with school age
children, have been moving to the suburbs (Downs, 1982, 14)."
Most downtown regions of modern large cities consist of concentrations of private businesses and industry.
Capitalism plays a very large role in the modern city. A decid...
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