Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Edge City by Joel Garreau

Garreau uses the term “Edge City” to describe the suburban communities that developed outside of major metropolitan areas in the last half of the twentieth century. He admits that the moniker is hard to define, noting that it is essentially a judgment call as to where these “cities” begin and where they end. But nonetheless, he makes an attempt to define his term. In the introduction he states that Edge Cities are a “psychological location—a states of mind—even more than a physical place.”

No doubt realizing that this definition would not be adequate for his purposes, Garreau provides another, more complex definition of the term. Edge Cities must have a certain amount of office and retail space. They primarily must be places of employment, must have more jobs than bedrooms, and must be “perceived by the population as one place.” The final qualification is that all of these factors have to be recent—within the last thirty years.

With this second definition, Garreau provides his readers with a fairly specific idea of what constitutes an Edge City. However, throughout the book, this definition changes, parts of it are forgotten or dismissed, and at times it is almost completely thrown out. Garreau needed an amorphous definition, one that he could tweak and adjust to fit various localities, because he is not simply providing a general description of Edge Cities, but using these emerging suburban cities to examine several different issues, such as wealth, power, race, and class.

It is obvious that Garreau approves of Edge Cities, even celebrates them. Too often he describes these suburban enclaves in a way that makes them appear to be fault free—the hope for the future. Although most of these “cities” had few problems and their inhabitants lived relatively good lives, problems existed elsewhere as a direct result of the growth of these places. Garreau either ignores or overlooks these problems throughout Edge City.

Although at times it was a little tedious, ultimately this was an interesting read.

4 comments:

Christopher said...

WHOA this sounds boring.

Carlton said...

You sound boring.

Nihil Novum said...

Read something interesting.

Here are some guidelines:

1) If it's about history, it's boring.

2) If it mentions a war with robots on the back cover, it is exciting.

Christopher said...

Robot Wars: A History