Are the suburbs compact? Or are they sprawl? Maybe both.

From Phil Huckleberry’s “Phthursday Musings”, Marmora and Giddings

Tonight as I walked the short distance home from a meeting, and I mulled over those old walks, I thought about how back in Chicago, if we’d wanted, we could have just kept on walking. One small neighborhood would roll into another. I could have taken dozens of pictures of different street sign combinations. Out here in the suburbs, you go three blocks, and it’s like everything ends. I go one way, I’m in a different town. I go a different way, there’s weird industrial buildings and a quarry. I go yet a different way, and there’s a federal highway. The compactness is visceral.

I love this observation of the suburbs as compact. It completely flips the view of the suburbs I’ve held has being expanse. But the sprawl is the overall view.

The user experience of suburbs is indeed compactness. You have these tiny little pockets. Little islands of activity. These islands are separated by large swaths of land.

Do suburbs then get an advantage over cities, because they can focus on a smaller area to improve? If so, then why aren’t there as many public space plazas in the suburbs?

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