NPR logo Don't Miss: The Roots of Sprawl

Don't Miss: The Roots of Sprawl

When I moved to Los Angeles, I kept looking for a center to the city, a downtown, a heart to the incredible urban landscape I had moved into. It took me a while to figure out L.A. has no center.

Phoenix, which I've been to only a handful of times, seems to be even more extreme. Ninety percent of the city has been built since 1950. And that growth has been outward — always outward. The reason: space. That's the big selling point in Phoenix... always has been. Here's a clip (audio) from an ad promoting homes in Phoenix in 1950. And here's one from today (audio). They both are selling the same thing… bright, sunny and large space. Hmmm... more house, less money, not exactly a hard sell.

The Phoenix metro area now has four million people in around two dozen separate cities. There is so much urban mass, the traffic is awful, the pollution is worsening and the temperature barely drops at night.

Nice piece from Ted Robbins today exploring Phoenix. Looks at the promise and the problems of Phoenix... first of a three-part series.