suburb means something so totally different here

like someone in the NIMBY discourse posted an aerial photo of what i would call the countryside and is like “this is a suburb” and then an aerial photo of what i would call a suburb and was like “this is a city centre”

except words mean different things

it’s because we have whole fucking states with nothing but empty farmland/desert.  The state of Wyoming is bigger than the UK, but has a population smaller than the city of Seattle (not even counting the rest of our metro area).

yeah i am aware of why it is on a system 2 level, just system 1 is confused.

ah okay.  I don’t have a fix for that except ‘go on a road trip through eastern Washington’ which probably isn’t appealing to you

Eastern Washington has rolling hills! And some college towns! And Radcon! And the B reactor!

My heart ❤

I don’t think suburb has a strict definition because people will see it differently depending on where they live but here’s my point of view from living in Madison: 

In this photo, I would say everything on the isthmus is city and everything in the foreground is suburban, even if it’s not technically a “suburb” in the sense of a sub-town 40 minutes away by highway build only for residential purposes. 

In this one everything in the foreground is urban, shading into tree-filled suburban mostly houses, and with rural in the far distance.

This is 20 minutes outside of Madison and is I think what is commonly referred to as “A Suburb” where it’s big houses with a decent chunk of green around them as far as the eye can see. 

Medium density housing a mile or two away from tall buildings but not surrounded by them is seen by some people as suburb and by some as city, so I dunno. 

A term that, unfortunately, has not gotten traction outside academic circles is “exurb”. Exurb exists to distinguish the last two photos; the last one is a suburb, and the second-to-last is a subdivision in an exurb.

Suburbs are mostly single-family homes with greenery but fairly small lots. There will be room between houses (if you’ve got rowhouses with shared walls you’re in urban territory) but not a ton; almost every house will have a backyard but the front yard may be to small for anything but some flower beds. Suburbs are dense enough that bus routes are viable, though usually not reliable. The cost-benefit analysis comes out in favor of subways extending to suburbs, but frequently local politics will oppose it anyway. Almost every family has a car, but kids mostly get around without them.

Exurbs have large lots and large homes. Virtually every home will have both a front and a back yard large enough to play catch in. There will be lots of space between homes, even in subdivisions. Every family will have a car and most will have two or more; children will need to be transported by car to do anything outside a subdivision (and possibly inside the subdivision). Public transit will be nonexistent, or if it technically exists will be a laughingstock. Commuter rail lines may exist. There may be some farms left over from when this was a rural area; no one will think this is weird.

I grew up in an exurb, went to college in a suburb, and currently live in a rowhouse area. All of these are commonly referred to as suburbs, but they are significantly different in terms of badness.

Thank you for explaining why the subdivision I grew up in was unbearable and the suburb I live in now is okay!

When I moved from eastern Massachusetts to northern Virginia, it was confusing to discover that “suburb” was no longer a synonym for “town, including walkable commercial areas”, and now meant “pockets of housing connected by highways.”

You know what’s great is picking up people who live in relatively normal places from LAX then driving them through forty straight miles of what they would qualify as “city” to stop in a suburb/exurb with a population of 50k and claim you’re in the middle of nowhere. Then explain that the sprawl keeps going for another forty miles.

You can do the opposite with people from really dense, extremely sprawled places. For instance I *completely* lost my shit and was uncomfortable and perpetually unhappy when I visited Seattle because the city was okay but in the suburbs you can’t see the horizon because there are trees everywhere and I didn’t realize that is the only version of claustrophobia I react to, apparently.

It’s partially because of Language, as per usual.

A suburb, originally, is a small village/town at the edge of a larger town/city that has grown so much that it is absorbing the smaller town.

These are fantastic places. I highly recommend them. You want to live there.They have a main street with all the every-day amenities of living in the middle of town (because you are living in the middle of a [small] town) without the high land prices, noise and traffic of actually being in the middle of the city. If you place yourself right you can be living in a house, with a yard, within walking distance of both a grocery store, a library and a train station taking you directly to the city center.

A suburb now is a similar-sized area that didn’t grow organically.

These are terrible places because they don’t have all the amenities that would have shown up if it was built before strict zoning, they were designed after the invention of the automobile and therefore place everything too far apart, without a train station so you’ll have to get in a car to go into the city. They don’t have a main street, but instead have a bunch of collector streets that draws everybody out into the larger road network. There might be a bus stop out here but it’s too far to walk out to unless you’re desperate.

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