Urban Sprawl Essay Research Paper Urban Sprawl

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Urban Sprawl Essay, Research Paper Urban Sprawl is a problem that will have severe consequences for all life if left unrestricted. The unrestricted development of the United States and the world is rapidly contributing to the degradation of our ecosystem. Moreover, if over development continues there will be massive human suffering. Air and water quality are in jeopardy and topsoil is being lost at an alarming rate. If something isn’t done soon to curtail rampant development there may be no way to prevent its destructive consequences. In order to understand Urban Sprawl it is imperative to understand the history and origin of cities. The historic causes of urbanization and then sub urbanization can be linked to capitalism. Although many would argue that the first cities

came to exist due to an innate human need for solidarity, these Neolithic cities, such as Mesopotamia were mere villages in comparison to the metropolises of the last 200 years. True cities emerge when one class of individuals dominates another in order to extract a surplus. Whether it be the nobles exploiting the peasants in the middle ages, or Henry Ford exploiting autoworkers in 20th century Detroit, it is exploitation for the accumulation of wealth that is the catalyst of the city. When development is based on the marketplace it will be designed to maximize profit rather than maximize the health and welfare of its inhabitants. Least of all, the capitalist city has the least regard for ecology. The result is a sprawling detriment to human and ecological health. At no time was

this more evident than The Industrial Revolution. Europeans and then Americans found it profitable to harness rivers for power. They built gristmills first, and then saw mills, then textile mills. Eventually, entrepreneurs would produce anything that they could create a market for. Along the way they exploited what ever was available. Men, women children and immigrants competed for the lowest wages. Of course the earth itself was also exploited. Rivers were harnessed for their ability to turn the wheels. They were also utilized as a means to carry away industrial refuse. Eventually, Coal and other fossil fuels would be extracted to power steam engines. Raw materials were also extracted. Metal, lumber, and several other raw materials were converted to consumer goods. The

Industrial Revolution transformed once agrarian communities into industrial complexes. The pursuit of the wage concentrated populations into urban manufacturing centers such as Woonsocket RI., Lowell Ma., Merrimack NH., and Biddeford Me. What ensued was a large influx of immigrants from Ireland, Canada, Eastern Europe and South East Asia. This increase in population simultaneously increased the density and the area of cities. Furthermore, by the mechanism that Allen Pred called the “Multiplier Effect” the increased population created an increase in demand for goods. Thus, cities grew rapidly. The advent of efficient forms of transportation such as canals and the railroad multiplied human ability to exploit Earth’s resources and distribute them. This opened trade routes and

created new cities. Some cities were formed based solely on these new forms of transportation. They were places to get off the train and spend the night, or refueling stations. Moreover, the railroads made it possible to bring raw materials from all over for transformation into consumer goods in the cities. The economic opportunities of manufacturing was the catalyst of the great migration of Southern African/Americans to Northern Manufacturing centers like Detroit. Just as the increase in immigrant labor had been doing for 100 years the influx of Southern African/Americans created a labor surplus. Of course the mill owning Bourgeoisie took advantage of this surplus by allowing working conditions to deteriorate in order to maximize profits. As conditions deteriorated workers