For Release Sunday, December 14, 2008
In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner bemoaned the closing of the western frontier. Until then, unfettered expansion onto free land had been the nation’s development dream, even though it required forcibly dislocating its Native Americans. By the 1890s Census, however, the unrelenting flow of humanity, along with setting aside Native American reservations, had brought settlement to points across the untamed wilderness of the West. The closing of the western frontier undermined America’s hopes for the future.
This year, 2008, may mark the closing of another frontier–the greenfields frontier. For over a half century, the nation has experienced unfettered expansion of human settlements, urban and rural, onto low cost greenfields.
A piece of earth and a car to drive has been central to the current development dream, resulting in explosive low density sprawl. New communities sprung up so quickly, and randomly, that they overwhelmed city annexation, even if it had been desired. But it wasn’t. Part of the dream was to flee the problems of the cities and set up new, more perfect, communities.
Instead, the new communities grew independently, often with little knowledge of their neighbors’ actions. Typically just in times of crises would they came together to deliver common services, such as sewer and water. Read More