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Another day, another prediction of the death of the suburb

Another voice predicting the death of the American suburb has joined the choir.

Online publication Business Insider launched a series of stories it has dubbed “Death of Suburbia.” The series promises to examine the decline of gauche McMansions, disappearing malls and collapsing casual-dining chain restaurants.

People in US suburbs are changing the way they shop, where they eat, and what they want in their homes.

Malls are shutting down as e-commerce continues to take over, and the casual-dining chains that fed shoppers after a day of hoofing it through the mall are struggling to cope — Business Insider

But determining whether the suburbs, as we know them, are headed for the dustbin of history  is difficult. Asking an expert about what’s happening in terms of urban vs. suburban development is a lot like getting directions from the Scarecrow along the Yellow Brick Road.


In recent years the supposed preference of millennials, the nation’s largest generation, for cities created a boon in think pieces pondering the demise of the white picket fence way-of-life. Cities, such as Baltimore, have crowed about the dense city landscape’s propensity to lure young, talented and energetic employees.

But so far there’s been no conclusive proof that two-car garages, large yards and cul-de-sacs are going the way of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

In January “The Upshot,” The New York Times’ data-driven reporting blog, examined claims that millennials are destined for the city. According to that report, millennials have shown greater affinity for cities and have remained in them longer than their parents, but “the draw of the suburbs is still strong.”

The Urban Land Institute released a report in December that found millennials may not be as enamored with cities as initially thought. It found that 75 percent of 25-to 34-year-olds in the largest 50 metro areas lived in the suburbs; that’s comparable to the 79 percent of the overall population in those areas that call the ‘burbs home.

The Business Insider article does address that urban living is having an impact on the design of suburbs looking to mimic the positives of urban living without all the issues, such as crime, addiction and homelessness, plaguing traditional urban centers.

In Maryland similar trends can be seen in communities such as Towson, Columbia and Bethesda, where planners and developers have embraced vertical building, walkability and even transit-oriented development.

So it’s likely the death of suburbs doesn’t mean a return to cities and row after row of vacant tract housing near highways. More likely it’s just areas outside cities appropriating the positive aspects of city life with less negatives.

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One comment

  1. Urban Land Institute (ULI) is a racist organization. Much of the advice they have given BDC and who knows what other development organization they have advised it against Black communities. It’s questionable when the media continues to ask for ULI’s opinion. Does that mean the media is racist as well?