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Politics and cities: looking at the roots of suburban sprawl

Our modern-day suburban sprawl is much more than bad architecture and sloppy planning, yet there might be a simple solution. Benjamin Ross, author of Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, argues that the expansion of rail transit would help us to create better places to live. In the interview clips below, Ross explains how the federal government’s regulation of mass transit lay down the roots for the suburban sprawl we see today, and defines two new terms that are key to understanding the future of urban and suburban planning.

The rise and decline of suburbanism

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“Not-in-my-backyard” politics

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The “New Urbanist Movement”

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Benjamin Ross is the author of Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism. He served as the president of Maryland’s Action Committee for Transit for 15 years, which grew under his leadership into the nation’s largest grass-roots transit advocacy group. Ross is a consultant on environmental problems and served on committees of the National Academy of Sciences and EPA Science Advisory Board. He writes frequently on political and social topics in Dissent Magazine and is the author of The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment.

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