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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Space and Community - The Spatial Foundations of Urban Neighborhoods: An Evaluation of Three Theories of Urban Form and Social Structure and Their Relevance to the Issue of Neighborhoods


Neighborhoods have been centers of concern for city planning and urban theory since the late nineteenth century. According to scholars and activists such as Ttinnies (1887) in Vienna, and Jane Adams (Trolander 1987) and later Robert Park and his associates in Chicago (Park 1925; Wirth 1938), the social problems of the large city stemmed from the deterioration of local community ties which had been based on frequent face-to-face meetings, and their replacement by casual businesslike interactions among strangers. They believed that a major part of the problem was the blurring of clear boundaries between settlements as they were engulfed in rapidly growing metropolitan areas. Units of settlement ceased to have an identifiable structure to which people could relate.

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