Shape of the City

This article discusses the way cities are created and how they change over time. Three different forms of cities (the grid, the strip and the master planned community) are identified. The most common form of urban development in the pre-automobile era was the grid system, in which land was divided into simple lots and streets. As grid cities grow, the underlying lot and street pattern keeps order even as buildings are replaced over time. Additions to the first grid are common. Strip development grew as automobile use increased. The signature characteristic of this type of development is that no one actually lays it out; instead, commercial and residential development grows along an existing road. Strips have a great capacity for change, but lack order and often look chaotic. Landscaping, parks and civic space are all stipulated in a master planned community, and building types and sizes are determined by the developer. However, master planned communities do not anticipate or plan for change. Since planned communities rarely include the uses needed to support a fully-realized city, these larger and aesthetically unpleasing functions are built on the less restricted surrounding highways of the planned community. This lack of adaptability may make planned communities a problematic form of development for meeting future growth needs.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Illustrations; Photos;
  • Pagination: pp 30-33
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01055191
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 16 2007 11:42PM