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American Cities in the “End of Suburbia” Documentary

What influence(s) did industrialization have on urbanization?

As American society shifted from being a mainly agricultural society into one dependant on the industrial production of goods and associated services, the influence of this was felt in other aspects of the economy, as well. Notable among these was the situation in which cities grew, and society became more urbanized. As more industries sprang up, cities grew, and American society became more urbanized.

Consequently, this had an influence on economic and social life as the created opportunities made people move to the cities to look for employment and better access to goods and services (Annex and Buckley, 4). The growth of cities transformed the economy of America. The reliance on imported manufactured goods was reduced. And as more cities sprang up, they started to divide further into districts. Some of these districts included the working class, tribal neighborhoods, city centers, and a ring of suburbs around the cities.

How have the structure of the city and the nature of city life changed over time in North America?

Over time, the structure of the city and the nature of the city have changed considerably in North America. During the late nineteenth century, many industries sprang up that led to the growth of urban centers. Previously, cities acted as hubs of carrying out various commercial activities for the rural neighborhoods, and they were usually found near water bodies. The production of goods and services took place outside their limits, frequently near the vicinity of raw materials.

However, as industries invaded the cities, they transformed. Different cities in North America were then identified with what they were producing. The structure of the cities was also changed as people moved from city to city, creating a diverse population. Soon, after the Second World War, urbanization swiftly changed into suburbanization as largely independently communities sprang up across the cities. Several factors contributed to this.

After the end of the war, there was a high demand for housing for returning soldiers who wanted to start families. Therefore, the government provided them with funds to purchase housing units away from the cities. Besides, the development of better ways of transportation made people have more choices about where to live since they could reach the cities without any problems. Therefore, the availability of wide-open space, affordability, growth of families, and ease of transportation made the population of the suburbs increase (Romans, para.4).

In the context of this film, how are Canadian cities different from their American counterparts?

In the context of the film, “The End of Suburbia,” the Canadian cities are different from their American counterparts in several ways. To begin with, historically, the two nations have different patterns as well as modes of development because of their cultural differences. While in America, individual homesteaders, ranchers, and prospectors settled the cities looking for a new life, in Canada, the arm of the Crown was more important as the police power, corporate presence, and missionaries established homesteads together.

Having a much stronger economy, the American cities were built with a much better design than their Canadian counterparts were. Lastly, following WWII, American cities started to change rapidly in contrast to the Canadian cities, which did not experience a much faster rate of change. It is because, in America, effective policies spurred this drastic growth.

How is suburbanization predicated on cheap, plentiful energy?

The growth of suburbs has been predicated to arise because of the availability of cheap and plentiful energy. As energy becomes easily available, suburbs spring up due to the reduced costs of transportation. Therefore, instead of living in cities, most people prefer to live in the suburbs that offer them the convenience they need in life. However, this way of life is not sustainable because it depletes the world’s non-renewable resources.

Examples are the Long Island, New York in the U.S., and the “bedroom communities” of Greater Montreal in Canada. Peak oil is a term that is used about the point in which the maximum rate of production of the world’s oil is reached. Consequently, the production of the resource enters the phase of terminal decline (Winter, 14). This can undermine the growth of suburbia because of the reduced availability of petroleum, which can make transportation to the suburbs to be difficult. Consequently, the firm predicts that the suburbs can become ‘slums of the future.”

What form of urban design is promoted in the film as an alternative to suburbia and what are its characteristics?

As an alternative to modern suburbia, the film proposes the application of new urbanism design principles that can not undermine their growth. This is characterized by “re-establishment of the sorts of elements that comprised great cities in the days before the internal combustion engine, local retail clusters, walkable neighborhoods, work and living spaces in closer proximity and local energy generation” (Herzog, concluding section).

For example, in Greater Vancouver, various attempts have been made to achieve this. Some of these are the creation of neighborhoods that can provide all the residents with all the services they need instead of having to go to distant places and various plans have been instituted to make the residents access other cheaper sources of energy without necessarily having to depend on petroleum.

Works cited

Annez, Clarke P., and Buckley, Robert M. Urbanization and growth. Washington (D.C.): World Bank, cop., 2009. Print.

Herzog, Lawrence. “The End of Suburbia: Film Review.” Houston. Houston Independent MediaCenter. 2005. Web.

Romans, Brian. “End of Suburbia.Clastic Detritus. The Theme Foundry. 2007. Web.

Winter, Mick. Peak oil prep: 3 things you can do to prepare for peak oil, climate change and economic collapse. Napa, CA: Westsong Pub., 2006. Print.

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