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A suburb is a residential area or a mixed use area, either existing as part of a city or urban area or as a separate residential community within commuting distance of a city. In most English-speaking regions, suburban areas are defined in contrast to central or inner city areas, but in Australian English and South African English, "suburb" has become largely synonymous with what is called a "neighborhood" in other countries and the term extends to inner city areas. In some areas, such as Australia, China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and a few U.S. states, new suburbs are routinely annexed by adjacent cities. In others, such as Arabia, Canada, France, and much of the United States, many suburbs remain separate municipalities or are governed as part of a larger local government area such as a county.
Suburbs first emerged on a large scale in the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of improved rail and road transport, which led to an increase in commuting. In general, they have lower population densities than inner city neighborhoods within a metropolitan area, and most residents commute to central cities or other business districts; however, there are many exceptions, including industrial suburbs, planned communities, and satellite cities. Suburbs tend to proliferate around cities that have an abundance of adjacent flat land.
- Lower densities than central cities, dominated by single-family homes on small plots of land – anywhere from 0.1 acres and up – surrounded at close quarters by very similar dwellings.
Zoning patterns that separate residential and commercial development, as well as different intensities and densities of development. Daily needs are not within walking distance of most homes.
- A greater percentage of whites and lesser percentage of citizens of other ethnic groups than in urban areas. However, Black suburbanization grew between 1970 and 1980 by 2.6% as a result of central city neighborhoods expanding into older neighborhoods vacated by whites.
Subdivisions carved from previously rural land into multiple-home developments built by a single real estate company. These subdivisions are often segregated by minute differences in home value, creating entire communities where family incomes and demographics are almost completely homogeneous..
Shopping malls and strip malls behind large parking lots instead of a classic downtown shopping district.
- A road network designed to conform to a hierarchy, including culs-de-sac, leading to larger residential streets, in turn leading to large collector roads, in place of the grid pattern common to most central cities and pre-World War II suburbs.
- A greater percentage of one-story administrative buildings than in urban areas.
- Compared to rural areas, suburbs usually have greater population density, higher standards of living, more complex road systems, more franchised stores and restaurants, and less farmland and wildlife.
- Archer, John; Paul J.P. Sandul, and Katherine Solomonson (eds.), Making Suburbia: New Histories of Everyday America. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.
- Baxandall, Rosalyn and Elizabeth Ewen. Picture Windows: How the Suburbs Happened. New York: Basic Books, 2000.
- Beauregard, Robert A. When America Became Suburban. University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
- Fishman, Robert. Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia. Basic Books, 1987; in U.S.
- Galinou, Mireille. Cottages and Villas: The Birth of the Garden Suburb (2011), in England
- Harris, Richard. Creeping Conformity: How Canada Became Suburban, 1900-1960 (2004)
- Hayden, Dolores. Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820–2000. Vintage Books, 2003.
Jackson, Kenneth T. (1985), Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN
- Stilgoe, John R. Borderland: Origins of the American Suburb, 1820–1939. Yale University Press, 1989.
- Teaford, Jon C. The American Suburb: The Basics. Routledge, 2008.
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