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Suburban Land Use

  • By: John I. Carruthers, Selma Lewis & Robert N. Renner
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Because suburban is a relative—and highly subjective—term, suburban land use is best explained with respect to broader patterns of urban and regional development. The word itself carries both positive and negative connotations, depending on the specific context and/or frame of reference. On the one hand, suburbs are often thought of as a low-density alternative to the crowding, congestion, expense, and pollution of built-up urban centers. On the other hand, just as often, they are faulted for being exclusionary, inefficient, monotonous, and resource-intensive environments, and it is not uncommon for them to be described via the pejorative expression suburban sprawl. Suburban land use is without question lower in density and more spatially expansive than urban land use, but easy contrasts end there, as the two are ...

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