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Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (Anchor Books) Paperback – September 1, 1992


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Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (Anchor Books) + The Death and Life of Great American Cities
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Product Details

  • Series: Anchor Books
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (September 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385424345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385424349
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A thought-provoking account of the new urban centers that are developing on the edges of major metropolitan areas in the U.S.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Garreau's rather indifferently written tome, originally produced as a series of Washington Post articles, describes the phenomenon of Edge Cities that have sprung up in various areas of the nation, usually in close proximity to intersecting highways and urban areas. These entities are found in former rural or residential areas and contain office and retail space, a population that increases at 9 a.m. on working days, and a local perception of the Edge City as the final destination for mixed-use shopping, jobs, and entertainment. Garreau describes how developers, planners, politicians, and others have combined in such areas as Northern and Central New Jersey, Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Phoenix, Southern California, and the San Francisco Bay region to erect these new entities. He also discusses such interesting trends as the newly emergent black upper middle class in the Atlanta environs and the neo-Civil War battle to preserve the Manassas battlefield site in Virginia from developers. For general collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/91.
-Norman Lederer, Thaddeus Stevens State Sch. of Technology, Lancaster, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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It is interesting to read this book again with the benefit of some history since it was first written.
R. J Sharpe
This will be familiar to anyone who has commuted down to a job in the quintessentially "Edge City" Silicon Valley.
Richard Quarles
His writing style reminds me of Jane Jacobs and her classic "Death and Life of Great American Cities."
Dick Bjornseth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Erika Mitchell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book explores what has become of the suburbs. Garreau's argues that certain suburbs have developed into a new kind of city, a city without a traditional downtown. He believes that such "edge cities", are the cities of the future. Garreau's criteria for an "edge city" are:

--5 million square feet or more of office space

--600,000 square feet or more of retail space

--more jobs than bedrooms

--perceived as one place by the population

--developed within the last 30 years

With these criteria in mind, Garreau sets off across the US to study our major edge cities. He explores edge cities in New Jersey, Texas, Southern California, and the areas around Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. In each area that he visits, Garreau takes up an edge city theme. For instance, in Detroit he discusses cars and the role they play in edge cities, and in Atlanta he discusses questions of race and class in edge cities.

At the end of the book is a list of US cities that qualified for edge city status in 1992. This is followed by a glossary of words used by edge city developers and a set of "laws" about how edge cities work. These "laws" are statistical observations about human behavior relevant for city planning, such as "the furthest distance an American will willing walk before getting into a car is 600 feet." Finally, there is an annotated list of suggested readings, endnotes, and an index.

Garreau is neither for nor against edge cities. He tries instead to understand how they work, and why they have popped up so rapidly across the country.
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60 of 70 people found the following review helpful By noneal on October 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Edge City is obnoxious partially because it is full of lies, distortions, and contradictions, and partially because it espouses an irresponsible model of growth and settlement. I say "irresponsble" because while Garreau claims to be merely descriptive, he's actually prescriptive: he not only argues that ECs are inevitable, but insists that they're vital and wonderful and soup for the human soul. I admit, however, that what what initially raised and finally sustained my rancor is that it's another case of someone simply ignoring the research that has come before them, research of which they are clearly aware, and not bothering to show how their new theory sits with respect to that previous knowledge, or why their new explanations are superior to previous ones.

Garreau makes at least 4 references to Jane Jacobs and her seminal Life and Death of Great American Cities early on in his book - mostly throwaway references, one slightly critical. There's absolutely no engagement, though her work is highly relevant. In LDGAM, Jacobs argues that the basic tenents of urban zoning and planning, which she labels "City Beautiful", are flawed, and destined to create dead grey areas in cities. She advocates mixed zoning, so that the same neighborhood contains at least retail, offices, and residential units, and so that there's significant cross-use and foot traffic throughout the day and night. She also advocates measures in general that are calculated to make movement easier and more appealing for pedestrians, such as shorter blocks, and irregular streets mixed in with the main arterial thoroughfares. Her book is much richer than all of this; this is just a summary of the most relevant parts.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Vince Kenyon on March 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
Explores the new environments arising at the junctions of interstate highways on the edges of major American metropolises. These developments supplemented suburbia first with retail and then with office buildings to become during the 1980s new centers of intensity rivaling or surpassing the old downtowns.

Through a succession of chapters, each nominally dedicated to a single metropolitan area, Mr. Garreau examines the edge city in its relation to some key issues in American society (transportation, race, quasi-governmental institutions, etc.) and then proceeds to investigate the edge city's compatibility with the traditional concepts of civilization, community, soul, and finally "hallowed ground."

An engaging and informative discussion of the forces shaping the new communities under construction throughout America. I recommend Edge City strongly to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of why we build the way we do.

My recent re-reading of Edge City was prompted by my first reading of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs. First published in 1961, Ms. Jacobs' work is now a classic that I wish I had read years earlier.

In a chapter entitled "Erosion of cities or attrition of automobiles," Ms. Jacobs expresses extreme pessimism regarding the place of the automobile in a livable urban environment. She counsels deliberate "attrition" of automobiles as the only protection against "erosion" of the city by continual further accommodations to them. Her well reasoned analysis of the conflict between car and city left me convinced of the wisdom of her recommendations.

But I remembered vaguely that Mr.
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