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Web Letters | The Nation

Re 'Conversation: Roberta Gratz and John Mollenkopf on Cities in Decline'

Forgetting the obvious

Edward Banfield, the noted sociologist, wrote extensively on the life cycle of neighborhoods. In a healthy city, neighborhoods have a regular turnover as new ethnic groups move in and others move up. There are regular geographic and economic patterns that have been true throughout history.

"Slum-clearance" often took place before by such means as the Great London Fire and the Chicago equivalent. Warfare has often cleared away older patterns.

The most basic flaw in this presentation is the oversmplified dichotomy of urban vs. rural. The suburbs are about 55 percent of the total at this point. They are parts of the city as an organic entity, even if outside the politically central cities.

The central cities grew by consolidating many small previous suburbs in all American examples. If it were done again, the more numerous suburbs would be in control in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and others.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Sep 24 2010 - 5:54am