In a previous post on images of sprawl, I argued that urban sprawl was typically illustrated using overhead images of residential development that was not especially low-density. Here are satellite images of suburban development from Google Maps for 6 different areas around the United States. The images are small, but the scale of the images is not unlike the scale of typical sprawl images. These pictures just show smaller areas.
Three of these images show areas that virtually everyone would agree were clear examples of urban sprawl. Image 1 is a portion of Rancho Cucamonga, California, a suburb about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, part of a very long stretch of suburban development. Image 4 shows a part of Levittown, New York, the famous tract suburb built after World War II. And image 6 is from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the suburb of Albuquerque for which both an aerial photograph and a satellite image were shown to illustrate the classic view of urban sprawl in the images of sprawl post.
Now for the remaining 3 images. Image 2 shows a section of Kentlands, the new urbanist development in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Image 3 is a portion of the Village of West Clay in Carmel, Indiana, a suburban of Indianapolis. The developer eschews the term “new urbanism” but has described the development as having been inspired by neo-traditional town planning. The remaining image, number 5, is a section of the new urbanist development of Celebration, Florida. Some astute, knowledgable observers might argue that there are some features that can be identified in these new urbanist/neo-traditional development images that distinguish these areas from traditional suburban sprawl. But the general impression produced by these images is not at all that different from the images of urban sprawl. From above, different types of suburban development can look very much like sprawl.