Introduction to Urban Studies




Urban Studies: Like your 

Garden, Cities Grow and Wither with the Winds 


by Harriet Tramer 




  picture credit:


With their tall buildings built of steel and concrete roads, cities might look as if they are virtually indestructible. But actually they are not as rock solid as some might imagine. On the contrary, they are constantly being pushed one way and then another by the powerful social, economic and political forces that whirl around them.


A city that is on the top of its game one minute might slip into a downward cycle shortly thereafter. Or, for that matter, the exact opposite could happen. An urban center that is on the brink of financial destitution might enjoy a reverse of fortune that guides it towards great acclaim.


During the 1970s, New York City nearly went bankrupt; the legal papers had already been prepared. It was, however, saved at the last minute by a coalition of municipal unions and financial interests. And bouncing back from its financial abyss, it has gained iconic status as a bustling financial center and the go to place for everything hip.


This booklet – Like Your Garden: Cities Grow and Wither with the Winds – presents four examples that will help you to better understand the cycles that are constantly shaping and then reshaping cities. 


It include the following segments


Suburban Poverty: During previous decades, suburbs were almost exclusively the domain of middle-class families who were seeking the American Dream of homeownership and upward mobility. However, poverty has come to cul-de-sacs and tree-lined streets that slope gently upward. This segment focuses upon the factors, such as the loss of factory jobs, that caused this transformation and the efforts suburbs are undertaking to handle it. 


New UrbanismRecently, young professionals and others have been flocking to cities in the hopes of finding adventure plus a lifestyle that harkens back to the time when people could live, work and play without having to travel long distances. The New Urbanism communities that dot these urban centers offer them the convenience and accessibility they desire. This segment presents some essential facts about them and their appeal.


Broken Windows :  A policing strategy, broken windows is based upon a simple and straightforward philosophy. You can save a city from falling into depletion by showing zero tolerance for quality of life crimes, such as rowdiness, that might otherwise escalate into serious criminality. Its potential is dissected in this segment.


Amazon : As does everything else about Amazon, the fulfillment centers it has constructed in numerous American towns incite controversy. Some observers claim that these facilities where purchases are processed can help towns devastated by the loss of manufacturing jobs to reclaim their footing. Others, however, remain convinced that they simply exploit workers made vulnerable by their inability to find employment elsewhere. Both points of view are detailed in this segment.


Parks: Cities are known for their broad avenues and towering buildings. However, it might actually be their parks which grant urban centers their vitality. And recognizing that fact, many observers have praised their potential.

But others have been more inclined to take a more skeptical stance, pointing out that parks bring serious challenges in their wake. How can they be secured? How can they be funded? How can they become accessible to every resident of a city? This segment presents both sides of that debate.



Each of these five segments has an assignment connected to it. These segments focus upon topics that have garnered considerable attention because they impact upon the way people work, live and play as well as upon the way in which they are governed.


As you complete these assignments, you are allowed, even encouraged to bring facts or comments from outside sources into your discourses; in fact, you are encouraged to do that. However, you should properly cite your sources. 


Example: If you use a quote from a book by Jo Smith, you might say, “In an article from x Jo Smith said.” Then, you would include a full citation for the text in your "List of References" page. 


This course lists many articles that might assist you as you complete the written assignments. If you use one of them in your papers, simply copy the citation you have been given. If you use a reference you have accessed on your own, use one of these two guidelines as you cite it.


The (MLA – Modern Language Association) 


APA (American Psychological Association)