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Working Papers

The Suburban Archipelago

Working paper #621
Joel Kotkin

America’s future is often captured in two distinct visions—one of continued, expansive sprawl and the other of an enforced density brought on by demographic and environmental changes. A third view proposes that although we will continue to spread outward, the essence of the urban experience will go with it, accompanied by some modest increases in density. In this vision of an archipelago of villages, we will see significant improvements in the social and environmental sustainability without forcing people to live in the kind of dense, multi-story apartment blocs that the vast majority do not want. This vision is based largely on an ever-dispersing economy tied together by telecommunications and transportation improvements. It offers a new, attractive, workable and socially acceptable model for the future as the nation gains another 100 million people by 2050.

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