Save the Cities, Stop the Suburbs?

34 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2006


This Essay reviews two recent books: Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl: A Compact History and Joel Kotkin, The City: A Global History. Bruegmann, an architectural historian, makes an important contribution to the thinking about suburban sprawl by placing current development patterns in historical context. Bruegmann builds a strong case that the costs of limits on suburban development - especially the reduction in the supply of affordable housing - might well outweigh their benefits. His failure to consider whether measures other than suburban growth restrictions might enliven cities, however, is a serious shortcoming. The Essay suggests that urban officials must find ways to make cities, in Kotkin's words, sacred, safe, and busy, places again. The Essay urges local governments to examine how city land use policies (as opposed to suburban ones) affect urban life and suggests that city officials must address inevitable tensions between safety and busyness and between busyness and beauty.

Keywords: land use, urban, growth, suburban, order maintenance, broken windows

JEL Classification: H73, K11, R14, R52

Suggested Citation

Garnett, Nicole Stelle, Save the Cities, Stop the Suburbs?. Yale Law Journal, Vol. 116, 2006, Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 06-10, Available at SSRN:

Nicole Stelle Garnett (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States
574-631-3091 (Phone)


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