Evolving Urban Form: Development Profiles of World Urban Areas

Special Report: Census 2011: Urban Dispersion in Canada

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Canada now has fastest-growing population in the G-8 (Note 1), according to the results of the 2011 census, released last week. Canada's growth rate from 2006 to 2011 exceeded that of the United States by nearly one-third and is nearly one half greater than just a decade ago. The population rose from 31.6 million in 2006 to 33.5 million in 2011.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Guangzhou-Foshan

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The Pearl River Delta of China is home to the largest extent of continuous urbanization in the world. The Pearl River Delta has 55 million people in the jurisdictions of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhuhai and Macau. Moreover, the urban population is confined to barely 10 percent of the land area. These urban areas are the largest export engine of China and reflect the successful legacy of Deng Xiaoping's reforms which had their start with the special economic zone in Shenzhen and spread to the rest of the Delta and then much of the nation.

Adjacent Metropolitan Areas: However, the Pearl River Delta today is not a metropolitan area, as is often asserted. Instead it is rather a collection of adjacent metropolitan areas or labor markets (Figure 1). Metropolitan areas are not created by a large number of people living close to one another. Metropolitan areas are labor markets, crudely delineating the geography of the jobs-housing balance.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Kolkata: 50 Mile City

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More than a decade ago, the Sierra Club and I crossed keyboards over urban density. The Sierra Club had just posted a new "neighborhood consumption calculator," that gave visitors the opportunity to look at the purported impacts of various density levels. The Sierra Club designated 500 dwelling units per acre as "efficient urban." Independently, Randal O'Toole and I quickly were on the Internet pointing out the absurdity of such high density.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Quanzhou

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Quanzhou? Quanzhou (pronounced "CHWEN-JOE"), despite its urban population that is approaching 5 million this urban area is so unfamiliar to Westerners and the rest of the world as to require an introduction. Quanzhou is a prefecture ("shi") in China's Fujian province. Fujian is just to the north of Guangdong, home of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong's former province (before the British) and just to the south of Zhejiang, the large rich province at the south flank of the Yangtze Delta (which abuts Shanghai). Quanzhou is also adjacent to Xiamen, one of the original special economic zones established by the legendary reformer Deng Xiao Ping.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Delhi

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It has been a time of ups and downs for Delhi, which has emerged as the largest urban area (area of continuous urban development) in India. By a quirk in the Census of India definitions, an urban area (urban agglomeration) may not cross a state or territorial boundary. As a result, Delhi continues to be the second largest urban area in India according to the Census of India.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Milan

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Italy's population growth has been stagnating in recent decades, but has turned around during the last decade, with the annual growth rate increasing 16 times (from 0.04 percent to 0.69 percent). According to United Nations data, Italy added more international migrants in the 2000s (3.8.5 million) than it added people in any ten year period since 1960. Some of the strongest growth has been in the Milan metropolitan region, which has begun to grow again after years of stagnation.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Beijing

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China's capital, Beijing, has long been one of the world's largest urban areas. Some reports placed its population at over 1 million in 1800, which would have made Beijing the largest urban area  in the world at that time. Later in the nineteenth century, Beijing dropped below 1 million population, as London, Paris and later New York rose to prominence. As late as 1953, Beijing had a population of fewer than 3 million. Since then the city’s population has  increased more than six times (Figure 1).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Los Angeles

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Los Angeles has grown more than any major metropolitan region in the high income world except for Tokyo since the beginning of the twentieth century, and also since 1950.  In 1900, the city (municipality, see Note) of Los Angeles had little over 100,000 people and ranked 36th in population in the nation behind Allegheny, Pennsylvania (which has since merged with Pittsburgh) and St. Joseph Missouri (which has since lost more than one quarter of its population).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Chicago

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Looks can be deceiving. No downtown area in the western world outside Manhattan is more visually impressive than Chicago. Both the historic Loop and the newer development north of the Chicago River, especially along North Michigan Avenue have some of the most iconic structures outside of emerging Asia. Yet these vertical monuments mask a less celebrated reality: that of dispersing, low density urban area.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Area: Seattle

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Lunching at Seattle's Space Needle, the casual observer might imagine that one of the nation's most dense urban areas is spread out below. To the immediate south of the Space Needle is one of the nation's premier downtown areas. In 2000 downtown Seattle had the seventh largest employment base in the country and was one of the most dense. Its impressive, closely packed buildings witness a storied past.  read more »