Steve the Pocket wrote:Pfhorrest wrote:That's what I think of as "suburban". You're somewhere between civilization and wilderness, somewhere between urban and rural. Maybe we need another term for that, to distinguish it from the unending miles and miles of identical tract housing spreading in every direction from the big cities. "Subrural" maybe?
If you're talking about the middle-of-nowhere sprawls that I was talking about, I've heard the term "exurbs" from time to time, but it doesn't seem to have caught on.
I wouldn't describe it as either middle-of-nowhere, or as a sprawl, so I don't think "exurb" really applies. The place I'm talking about is not some new development built off in the distance away from a big city and wholly dependent on it; it was its own small town already in the days when the nearest bigger cities were founded, and it simply hasn't been merged into their sprawl despite its proximity because there are some convenient wilderness boundaries (small mountains and a river) surrounding it. (I saw something recently referring to it as "one of the last true small towns in America"). But the effect of it could be achieved in new developments too, if swaths of undeveloped parkland were set aside as boundaries separating little self-sufficient "small towns" where tracts of housing surround hubs of small businesses.
Now that I think about it, even the larger cities around here (south central coast of California) follow that kind of pattern on a bigger scale. It's not like the eastern seaboard or the LA-San Diego conurbation, where you just drive through continuous urban/suburban development and just pass signs declaring the name of the city to change. When you leave Ventura headed north you drive through a bit of nothing (punctuated by small towns like Carpinteria and Montecito) until you hit the next city of Santa Barbara, which does seamlessly blend into the neighboring city of Goleta yes, but then you have a big stretch of nothing (punctuated by more small towns like Solvang, Buellton, and Lompoc) until you reach Santa Maria, then another stretch of nothing (punctuated by more small towns) until you reach San Luis Obispo, and so on up the coast.
That's the kind of landscape I grew up with, so as a child I always thought of places like e.g. Thousand Oaks (which is not even in LA County) as being "LA" because there's no gap of wilderness between it and LA, it's just continuous city the whole way.
And yeah I do know that big conurbations do have big parks in the middle of them so residents can get a bit of nature, but that just feels backward. Islands of nature in a sea of city is backward, I mean; much better to have islands of civilization in a sea of nature. And repeat that pattern fractally: neighborhoods with a core of small businesses surrounded by housing surrounded by a bit of wilderness or park land; clusters of those neighborhoods around a city center and all of that surrounded by a bit of wilderness; clusters of those small towns surrounding a larger urban area, and then all that separated from the next such cluster by a bit of country. That way nobody is ever lost in unending suburbia (or urbia, or ruria), you're always somewhere along a relatively short gradient from urban to rural wherever you go.