Urban Spatial Development in the United States from 1910 to 2010: A Novel Data-Driven Perspective
42 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 9, 2020
How have our cities evolved into what they are today? Despite strong claims regarding the forces shaping the spatial organization of cities, evidence on long-term urban change remains thin. Notably, direct testing of the regularities and rules thought to characterize long-term urban development is surprisingly rare. By leveraging new and unprecedented data on the spatial organization of cities in the United States since the early twentieth century, we examine the development of cities into their present form. In doing so, we situate fine-resolution historical housing data at the frontier of urban spatial science. While our analysis reveals strong scalable regularities in the size and density development of cities, changes in shape and structure are harder to codify. While our findings support the continued search for generalizable urban properties and “scaling rules", we encourage greater sensitivity to the inherent heterogeneity across different forms of urban spatial change.
Keywords: Urban spatial development, urban change, built environment, urban scaling, multi-temporal geospatial analysis
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