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  #1  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 7:19 PM
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Where's the functional boundary between "city" and "suburb" for your metropolis?

Official city boundaries are a useless way to identify urban places. Some cities, like Jacksonville have official boundaries that extend way out into the countryside, effectively including both "the city" and "the suburbs" within the official city limits. Other cities, like Boston, have tiny official boundaries and "suburbs" that are functionally part of the region's urban core.

So let's play a little game: Throw out the official boundaries, and make up more sensible places to draw the line between "city" and "suburb" for your metropolis. You can decide whatever you want, just explain it to us. If you can, USE THIS publicly editable google map to illustrate. Pick your city and draw the boundaries using that link.
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Last edited by Cirrus; Jun 23, 2016 at 9:02 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 7:21 PM
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Here's DC:

Mentally, many people here often think of the Beltway as the dividing line between core and outer areas. TBH I think the Beltway is too far out (ie the real functional urban/suburban boundary is closer in to the core), but the Beltway is such a convenient and well-understood proxy that I'm willing to call it the boundary even though it includes some definitely suburban areas. If pressed, I'd cut out a lot of Prince George's and Fairfax counties. But the Beltway works as a good quick answer, and it's definitely better than using the District of Columbia's official boundaries, which leave out a lot of very urban places.

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Last edited by Cirrus; Jun 23, 2016 at 9:39 PM.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 7:29 PM
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chicago's city limits are a reasonable enough proxy for the separation of "the city" from "the burbs". sure, the 13 sq. mile annexation of ORD wouldn't count, and there are a handful of burbs like oak park, cicero, and evanston that are urban enough that they could be considered part of "the city", but the city limits of chicago include the vast majority of what would be considered "the city" and they don't incorporate a ton of areas that would fall more in line with "the burbs". so.... close enough.
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Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 7:40 PM
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There isn't really one for LA.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 7:45 PM
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the urban core of st. louis bulges out northwest, west, southwest of forest park about another two miles beyond the city limits, essentially inside the innerbelt. you can expect to find blocks of 1920s apartments and two-flats that far out. further out to the southwest you find lower density streetcar suburbs with their own downtowns. in some cities this might also be called urban, but i would stop short of that. theres some pre-war stuff on the far southside beyond the river des peres as well...for example corner dive bars inside 1920s neighborhoods. north county has a lot of pre-war neighborhoods as well, with downtowns.

my current avatar photo, taken sometime in the 1920s i believe, is the literal "gate" to the much denser, more urban part of the st. louis suburb of university city. the lions on the pedestals face towards the city limits of st. louis, almost exactly a kilometer east (the photo looks west).
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Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 7:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ChargerCarl View Post
There isn't really one for LA.
So you're saying all the suburbs should be part of the city? Even including the valley, Orange County, and the Inland Empire?

I'll be honest: LA is part of the reason I asked this question. I'm not all that familiar with LA so I might be totally off base, but I sort of think "the city" would include all of the built-up part of LA County south of the mountains.
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Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 8:24 PM
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For London it certainly falls within the borders of the GLA, rather than outside of it. There are places within "London" which are suburban (or even pretty rural, down by Biggin Hill). And then there are places within London that are functionally satellite cities, like Croydon or Brentford.

Because Greater London is an amalgamation of old towns and villages, and because the English concept of a "suburb" is different from the American one (and will often be full of rowhouses with walkable retail streets), it's very difficult to define. I would say just past Hammersmith to the west, Brixton to the south, Stratford or West Ham to the east and perhaps Holloway to the north would be a decent way to think about it. But there are areas outside of that circle which are denser and more urban than some areas within it.

You could also look at the boroughs defined as Inner London versus the ones that are Outer London, but that's also imperfect because borough boundaries have nothing to do with functionality.
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Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 8:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
So you're saying all the suburbs should be part of the city? Even including the valley, Orange County, and the Inland Empire?

I'll be honest: LA is part of the reason I asked this question. I'm not all that familiar with LA so I might be totally off base, but I sort of think "the city" would include all of the built-up part of LA County south of the mountains.
Yeah, it's difficult with LA, being that most of the cities all run together, and it's often difficult to tell where one city begins and where another one ends, which is why you see a preponderance of various styles of street signs, presumably to give each city its own identity. Some cities even have their own street address numbering system; you can be driving down a thoroughfare, enter another city, and then all of a sudden the street addresses jump, or lose or gain another digit.

For me, in the southeast LA County area, suburb would start just outside the industrial area, southeast of the City of Commerce. And then for the SGV, the "City" ends east of Pasadena, being that the SGV east of Pasadena (and even the eastern section of Pasadena itself) is very suburban; in fact most of the SGV is suburban. For the SFV, to me, the suburbs are north of Ventura Blvd.---though of course in the hills south of Ventura Blvd, there are single family homes in the hills.

So truly, suburban areas/urban areas are very nebulous in the Los Angeles area.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 8:51 PM
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Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
For me, in the southeast LA County area, suburb would start just outside the industrial area, southeast of the City of Commerce. And then for the SGV, the "City" ends east of Pasadena, being that the SGV east of Pasadena (and even the eastern section of Pasadena itself) is very suburban; in fact most of the SGV is suburban. For the SFV, to me, the suburbs are north of Ventura Blvd.---though of course in the hills south of Ventura Blvd, there are single family homes in the hills.
So vaguely THIS? I'm surprised you'd leave out Burbank. And if we wanted an easy eastern boundary, maybe the 605?
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  #10  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 9:00 PM
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BTW, I created a publicly-editable google map. If you want to map your city, ADD IT HERE.

Please do not remove other people's additions. Add your own but don't delete.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 9:24 PM
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My own rough approximation. It's easier to say what is "The Suburbs" than what is not. So that's my starting point. The Beaches are their own thing, neither "the City" nor "The Suburbs".

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Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 9:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
So you're saying all the suburbs should be part of the city? Even including the valley, Orange County, and the Inland Empire?

I'll be honest: LA is part of the reason I asked this question. I'm not all that familiar with LA so I might be totally off base, but I sort of think "the city" would include all of the built-up part of LA County south of the mountains.
LA is an interesting monster. I live here so I know exactly what you're asking.

I know chargercarl said "there isn't really one for LA"

Well that's true and false. In a sense, there's more than one.

For all of LA county, I think the genuine consensus for "The City" when Angelenos say they are going "downtown" or "to the city", they are referring to everything

North of the 10, west of the LA river and south of the Santa Monica mountains/Hollywood hills.

That specific area is arguably the densest and most urban (city like) area of all of LA county and arguably the densest and most urban area of Southern California.

Now, everything outside of that area I mentioned is the reverse. Suburbia with dense downtown clusters (Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, Warner center (developing), LAX (yes LAX has its own midrise cluster around it), Universal City, Torrance (mid rise cluster of about 6-7 buildings) and etc.

Now Orange County and the Inland Empire are 2 separate monsters that are sadly being designed the same way.

(P.S. I added an outline in red to clarify the area I'm talking about, there are more City/urban areas but I didn't want to overload the map with the yellow that's already there)

Last edited by caligrad; Jun 25, 2016 at 1:28 AM.
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  #13  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 9:58 PM
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^ I'm not an Angeleno, but this is what I would have thought... downtown to the ocean, between I-10 and the mountains.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 10:02 PM
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For Boston the core is the light blue area where the density is maintained at around 10,000 ppsm with a few tracts that have parks or open space as low as 5,000 ppsm. The darker blue is Lynn which is somewhat cut off from the core by the swamps north of Revere but is a decent sized city by itself and the purple are railroad suburbs that are walkable but not as strongly connected.



The same map but with more conservative boundaries for the functional city area that remove the borderline areas.

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Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caligrad View Post
LA is an interesting monster. I live here so I know exactly what you're asking.

I know chargercarl said "there isn't really one for LA"

Well that's true and false. In a sense, there's more than one.

For all of LA county, I think the genuine consensus for "The City" when Angelenos say they are going "downtown" or "to the city", they are referring to everything

North of the 10, west of the LA river and south of the Santa Monica mountains/Hollywood hills.

That specific area is arguably the densest and most urban (city like) area of all of LA county and arguably the densest and most urban area of Southern California with.

Now, everything outside of that area I mentioned is the reverse. Suburbia with dense downtown clusters (Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, Warner center (developing), LAX (yes LAX has its own midrise cluster around it), Universal City, Torrance (mid rise cluster of about 6-7 buildings) and etc.

Now Orange County and the Inland Empire are 2 separate monsters that are sadly being designed the same way.
I fully agree with you on Orange County and the Inland Empire being the suburbs, no doubt about that.

But I wouldn't say that all areas north of the 10, south of the hills/mountains and west of the LA river are urban, or have an "urban" form in that American sense.

Pico, Olympic, Washington Boulevards... west of downtown, I see nothing "urban" about them at all; actually quite suburban, just miles of extended storefronts, punctuated with some mini-malls, and maybe a few highrises, with many single family homes or small apartment buildings on the side streets. I wouldn't doubt these streets decades ago gave LA that nickname of "100 (or whatever number) suburbs in search of a city." Melrose Avenue is definitely not an "urban" street in terms of how people on these boards define "urban."

Much of the San Fernando Valley, particularly the older parts, look like they could be parts of Washington and Venice Boulevards; so why would those Valley thoroughfares be "suburban" but Washington and Pico Boulevards are somehow more urban?

LA definitely is its own unique animal. Hard to define in terms of "suburban" vs. "city."

In my experiences in other metro areas, like Chicago, you can definitely tell where the city ends and where the suburbs begin. And Chicago suburbs, to me, even feel semi-rural. LA suburbs somehow seem more populated and busy and crowded, and even look somehow denser than Chicago suburbs. I know someone who lives in a place called Mt. Prospect; it's a suburb of Chicago, but it felt like and looked like its very own small town.
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Old Posted Jun 23, 2016, 10:37 PM
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So vaguely THIS? I'm surprised you'd leave out Burbank. And if we wanted an easy eastern boundary, maybe the 605?
I don't fully agree with your map either. Burbank to me is a suburb with a defined downtown, but pretty much suburban in built environment.

People have referred to Compton as "the inner city" but it's a suburb, and it looks pretty much very suburban. I consider it part of the South Bay region of LA county, like Carson, which, I guess Carson is.
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Old Posted Jun 24, 2016, 12:03 AM
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For Houston it's the 610 loop, though some might argue the Beltway/Tollway and certainly anything too far beyond the Beltway is suburban. Hopefully Houston will densify to the point that the 610 loop will be the clear line or circle of demarcation.
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Old Posted Jun 24, 2016, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
So you're saying all the suburbs should be part of the city? Even including the valley, Orange County, and the Inland Empire?

I'll be honest: LA is part of the reason I asked this question. I'm not all that familiar with LA so I might be totally off base, but I sort of think "the city" would include all of the built-up part of LA County south of the mountains.
It's hard to say because it is very universally dense. I'd say the areas that the tourists and movie/TV studios flock to most are the city areas for LA but that's just one man's opinion. It's just hard to say.
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Old Posted Jun 24, 2016, 12:24 AM
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I was going to be lazy and just say, for Boston everything inside the I95-128 loop is The City and everything outside of that isn't, but Citylover covered it much better than that. My only quibbles are - in my mind - Saugus is still The City. Rt 1-centric and a bit strip-mally in spots, but still core Boston. Hilltop practically defined North Shore Boston for most of my life. I'd put all of Arlington in The City too, even the bucolic parts closer to Lexington. Also, as a Hyde Park native, you have to stretch The City to actually include all of the city. I know HP and Westie are single family house areas, but they're Green Line-serviced and would be "core city" in 98% of American cities. That extends down into Dedham Center, but stops at the Westwood border.
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Old Posted Jun 24, 2016, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
BTW, I created a publicly-editable google map. If you want to map your city, ADD IT HERE.

Please do not remove other people's additions. Add your own but don't delete.
is there anyway to lock people's additions? I accidentally moved the borders for LA out into the pacific ocean when i tried to scroll lol...i think i put it back correctly.
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