More about Some of the Relevant Books

Return to Home Page

About Boomburbs: The Rise of America's Accidental Cities by Robert E. Lang and Jennifer B. LeFurgy (2007):

The boomburbs in this book are large, rapidly growing cities that are not the core cities in their respective urban regions. The boomburbs actually described and discussed are cities that had a population greater than 100,000 in the year 2000 and that had an increase in growth over the 10-year period preceding 2000 of 10 per cent or more. Also, baby boomburbs are characterized in the book. These are cities similar to boomburbs but with a population in 2000 in the range of 50,000 to 100,000. The number of boomburbs is 54 and the number of baby boomburbs is 86 according to the authors. These cities generally do not have the dense central business districts that might be expected to be found in cities of their size.

The only city close to Austin that met the requirements for inclusion into one of the two boomburb categories was Round Rock, which was also one of the 87 cities that responded with complete data to a questionaire about future growth. Round Rock was listed as one of 50 cities that that expected to become denser while 37 were listed as "holdouts" that anticipated that future growth would be limited largely to low density development. According to the book, one mayor "notes that market research shows that 'if you build a big enough house on a big enough lot,' people will stay there over a lifetime." The mayor's concern apparently was that low-end housing would eventually become blighted.

The authors used a variety of methods for gathering information for their book. For the chapter about future growth plans, for example, they conducted telephone interviews and made visits in addition to distributing questionaires. It is perhaps a sign of the times that, for preparing the chapter about the history of boomburbs, they made considerable use of city Web pages and the Wikipedia.

In the final pages of the last chapter, the authors indicated that they have attempted to conduct an objective study. Statements regarding smart growth and the new urbanism in the book such as "For smart-growth advocates, boomburb buildout plans are both encouraging and sobering" and "Betting on the demise of suburbia is something of a cottage industry among the new urbanists" do suggest a detached point of view. The result that Lang and LeFurgy obtained is a very informative book.

Available at the Pflugerville Community Library, catalog number 307.7609 LANG 2007

About Last Harvest: How a Cornfield Became New Daleville: Real Estate Development in America from George Washington to the Builders of the Twenty-first Century, and Why We Live in Houses Anyway by Witold Rybczynski (2007):

Last Harvest follows the progress toward the establishment of New Daleville, a neotraditional development in Pennsylvania, from the point where the author learns from one of the developers that this subdivision might be built to the time in 2006 that ten houses have been sold and occupied.

There is a Web site about New Daleville at Here, in addition to information about the houses and the developers, one can find the book description from the book jacket of Last Harvest.

The narration in Last Harvest is interrupted periodically to include chapters on topics such as "Scatteration" (about sprawl with discussions about misconceptions), "On the Way to Exurbia" (New Daleville might be considered to be an exurb), and "House and Home" (about the preference for single-family houses, particularly detached houses, not townhouses).

Available at the Pflugerville Community Library, catalog number 307.76 RYBC 2007, and at the Round Rock Public Library, catalog number 307.768 RYB

About This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America by Anthony Flint (2006):

In the introduction to This Land, Anthony Flint took note of the extensive reaction against the smart growth and New Urbanist approaches to land use that originated as alternatives to the kinds of suburbanization disparaged by many as sprawl. Flint reported, however, that when he told friends that he was writing a book about such alternatives, he "was greeted with a blank stare 98 percent of the time." He wrote that "Only a fraction of the citizenry has engaged in the debate, most are unaware that sprawl is considered a problem, or that smart growth, in any form, is an alternative - or what exactly smart growth is."

Consistent with the title, the book has much about the battle over suburbanization together with much about how how the battle is being played out at a number of locations in the United States.

This Land is likely to be a useful reference work whether one is inclined to be an advocate of smart growth or a critic.

The major arguments favoring smart growth and New Urbanism are presented in This Land. There is information about many of those involved in these movements together with information about many of the prominent critics. Major criticisms of smart growth and New Urbanism are presented also, but the author's view of these movements appears to be consistently positive.

Available at the Pflugerville Community Library, catalog number 307.76 FLIN 2006 and at the Round Rock Public Library, catalog number 307.76 FLI

Illustration (top right): Courtesy of Clipart.
Back to Home Page