Cities Ebb and Flow




Urban Studies: Like your

Garden, Cities Grow and Wither with the Winds




Image result for 400 X 500/ image of city




Harriet Tramer


An Introduction To Urban Studies



Image result for 300 X 500/ image of city skyline     


 ppicture credit:


                        Objectives for the Class


As you progress through this urban studies course, you will likely gain a greater understanding of the extent to which psychological, social, economic and political currents push cities first one way and then the other. Consequently, a city that flourishes at one point in time might soon flounder. And you will probably also come to realize that these forces interact with one another to such an extent that they almost become virtually inseparable.

Here are some historical perspectives you might gain from this class:

Traditionally, Americans have considered  cities too congested for their tastes or downright dangerous.  And after World War II, literally millions of Americans acted on these sentiments by abandoning cities for the suburbs, seeking the American Dream – a large house with a white picket fence; upwardly mobile children. In time, however, poverty has begun to enter America’s suburbs, impacting upon the schools and everything else in these communities.

As they evolve, cities develop a social/ economic structure that is marked by a well defined hierarchy; some people clearly have more status than do others. And these gaps become more pronounced, some noteworthy things begin to happen.

A group that enjoys financial power within an urban center might be positioned to determine what physical form that community assumes. It might even be able to direct its schools and cultural institutions along certain paths.

Cities that are advanced technologically have some wealthy residents who prospered by harnessing this technology to their best advantage and are then positioned to impact upon that city’s cultural/ political realms. Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg who made a fortune with his Bloomberg Media Group and then rose to even greater prominence in politics remains a major case in point.                       

Cities rise and fall as strong economic and social forces push them first one way and then the other. A city that falters as its major business loses traction might subsequently reinvent itself as new industries take hold. For example, Pittsburgh was depleted after its steel mills closed but is currently resurrecting itself as a medical/ technological center.


 Schedule for the Class

This class is divided into four segments each of which has an assignment connected to it. These segments focus upon topics that have garnered considerable attention because they impact upon the way people work, live and play as well as upon the way in which they are governed.

As you complete these assignments, you are allowed to bring facts or comments from outside sources into your discourses; in fact, you are encouraged to do that. However, you should properly cite your sources. 

Example: If you use a quote from a book by Jo Smith, you might say, “In an article from x Jo Smith said.” Then, you would include a full citation for the text in your "List of References" page. 

This course lists many articles that might assist you as you complete the written assignments. If you use one of them in your papers, simply copy the citation you have been given. If you use a reference you have accessed on your own, use one of these two guidelines as you cite it.

The (MLA – Modern Language Association) 

APA (American Psychological Association) 

Picture credit


Segment One: Suburban Poverty


Suburbia 1950s Style



 Picture credit

During the 1950s, young families left urban centers and flocked to the suburbs in search of the American Dream. Having just endured the Depression and then World War II, they were anxious to put those hard times behind them and enjoy the large front lawns, two-car garages and other amenities this (middle class) life style afforded them.

These videos depict suburban life as it was lived when Baby Boomers, people born after World War II, were coming of age. Note: If these videos do not play when you click on the appropriate URL, cut and paste this URL to your address bar.

As is the case with the media today, the advertisements were the message; buy this and you can have the perfect home, just like the characters on the show do.

"The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Rivals (1952)." 

"Leave It To Beaver – Wally’s Test”

Suburbia Today

 Now, however, the suburban landscape is very different than it was during the 1950s. As economic and social headwinds have worked to push many families out of the middle class or otherwise displaced them, poverty has found its way into cul-de-sacs and side streets. These articles provide some pertinent details:

Chapple, Karen. "Confronting suburban poverty - or celebrating suburban resilience?" urban, 6 June, 2013. Accessed 16 March, 2018.

Kneebone, Elizabeth and Alan Berube. "Suburban Poverty: A Year of Lessons." brookings, 20 May, 2014. Accessed 16, 2018.

"Poverty rates surge in American Suburbs." pbs, 11 Jan., 11, 2014. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Samuels, Alana. "Suburbs and the New American Poverty." theatlantic, 7 Jan., 2015. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Sanburn, Josh. "The Rise of Suburban Poverty in America." time, 31 July, 2014. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

"16 Million Suburban Americans Live in Poverty.", 3 August, 2014. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Swartvagher, Jennifer. "Suburban Poverty, Hidden on Tree-Lined Streets. parenting-blogs.nytimes, 13 Jan., 2015. Accessed 16, 2018.

Wiltz, Teresa. "Ferguson, Other U.S. Suburbs See Poverty Rise." pewtrusts, 26 August, 2014. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

 Picture credit


Causes of Suburban Poverty


picture credit:

These articles talk about the economic currents – de-industrialization, the growing pains being experienced by inner ring suburbs, gentrification, the aging of housing stocks in inner ring suburbs – that are coalescing to make suburban poverty an ongoing trend.

"As Poverty Grows in the Suburbs, Businesses and Governments Confront New Challenges." knowledge.wharton.upenn, July, 2016. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Capps, Kriston. "The Great Recession Cemented Suburban Poverty." citylab, 4 August, 2014. Accessed 27 June, 2017. 

McGirr, Lisa. "The New Suburban Poverty." nytimes, 19 March, 2012. Accessed 27 June, 2017. 

Murphy, Alexandra K. "The Diversity of Suburban Poverty: Challenges and Opportunities Facing the New Geography of American Poverty." guleninstitute, . Accessed 30, June 2017.

Plumer, Brad. "Poverty is growing twice as fast in the suburbs as in cities." washingtonpost, 23 May, 2013. Accessed June 27, 2017.

Wagstaff, Keith. "Why poverty is growing faster in the suburbs than in the city: Urban areas are no longer the country’s main centers of poverty.” yahoo, 20 May, 2013 Accessed June 27, 2017.

Zile, Max Van. "The New Faces of U.S. Poverty." usnews, 6 July, 2016. Accessed 26 Dec., 2017

School Districts Are Strongly Impacted Upon by Suburban Poverty

 Schools in communities that are experiencing an influx of low income students face considerable challenges/ pressures as they work to accommodate this new demographic. Many school personnel find themselves assuming positions that they are not necessarily trained to handle; teachers, for example, might be obliged to begin acting as social workers.

Meanwhile, middle class parents might be disquieted by the transitions in the public schools and transfer their students to private or parochial schools. As that happens, the community’s social fabric could be start to fray. These articles speak to these realities.

Bamforth, Emily. "Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools to offer free breakfast, lunch to all students." cleveland, 12 August, 2016. 7 April, 2018.

Berube, Alan. "Suburban Poverty and the Diverse Schools Dilemma." brookings, 21 August, 2013. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Brown, Emma, T. Rees Shapiro. "Schools face new challenges as poverty grows in inner suburbs." washingtonpost, 27 Feb, 2015. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Kneebone, Elizabeth. "The Changing Face of Poverty and How It's Impacting Suburban Children." onevoice.pta, 14 Jan., 2014. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Magan, Christopher. "At one suburban school, a 380% increase in poverty - and they're not alone." twincities, 16 Oct., 2015. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Ray, Barbara, "Four in Ten Suburban Public School Students are Low Income." confrontingsuburbanpoverty, July, 2016. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Thomas, Jacqueline Rabe. "In suburban schools, student poverty growing faster than education aid." ctmirror, 4 May, 2015. Accessed 27 June, 2017.




 picture credit:

Suburban poverty is making its impact felt throughout the country.  And Cleveland is no exception to this general rule; on the contrary, as these articles indicate, its inner ring suburbs are experiencing the same growing pains that are challenging similar communities elsewhere.

Clark, Benjamin Y., "East Cleveland is out of options: Benjamin Y. Clark." cleveland, 14 Jan., 2015. . Accessed 26 March, 2018.

Cleveland Heights/ Lakewood: An Inner Ring Divide.” (a series) cleveland,  15 July, 2016. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

"The Cost of Vacancy - Everybody Pays: Findings on Real Estate Tax Shift in Cuyahoga County as a Result of Housing Abandonment and Foreclosures." s3.amazonaws,  26 July, 2016. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Davis, Dave. "3 out of 4 Cleveland suburbs saw increases in poverty in last decade." cleveland, 25 Jan., 2012. Accessed 26 Dec., 2017.

Exner, Rich. "Cleveland poverty: ranking every Ohio city, county - Census Snapshot." cleveland, 21 Dec., 2017. . Accessed 16 March, 2018.

“The House Next Door” a series. cleveland, August, 2016. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

 Jarboe, Michelle. "Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs still hurting from the housing bust, despite addressing blight." cleveland, 28 Jan., 2018. . Accessed Jan. 28, 2018.

McGraw, Daniel J. "The Complications of our Deteriorating Inner Ring Suburbs." beltmagazine, . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Naymik, Mark. "An inner-ring suburb on the edge, Maple Heights can't offer residents much - not even basketball hoops: Mark Naymik.” cleveland, 21 Oct., 2015. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

“Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium & First Suburbs Development Council.” . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

This organization advocates for inner ring suburbs within the Cleveland Metropolitan area: many of these communities are experiencing escalating poverty rates.

Peizer, Jeremy. "Bankruptcy or annexation appear most likely solutions to East Cleveland's financial woes." cleveland, 8 June, 2015. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

"Poverty in the Suburbs," nytimes, 24 Oct., 2011. y-in-the-suburbs.html . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Tavernise, Sabrina."Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty's Surge in the Suburbs." nytimes, 24 Oct., 2011. Accessed 27 June, 2017.


Outline for the Paper on

Suburban Poverty


This exam should be at least 850 words in length. Your writing should be concise but clear. Details are essential and examples are always welcomed. Don’t be shy about expressing your opinions. You should present a list of works cited that provides essential information about the sources you utilized in completing this assignment.

You should respond to these questions:

Did anything you read about suburban poverty convince you that this phenomenon “merits” the widespread coverage it has received?

Or, did you conclude that all this attention is nothing more than effort on the part of media outlets to attract viewers/ readers? 

Did you come to believe that some people who are displaced from their employment because of de-industrialization and automation end up joining the ranks of the suburban poor?

Do you think that increasingly more people will be joining the ranks of the suburban poor in the near future?

For that matter, might official statistics which list the number of suburban poor as being X fail to account for everybody who belongs in that grouping? In answering these questions, consider the following:

Many (unemployed) suburban residents are probably sleeping on relatives couches or living in their basement. They are, in fact, poor but are not necessarily accounted for in official government statistics; they are essentially invisible.

The median income for American households is about $55,000 a year; that means half the families have an income which exceeds this number while the other half have an income which is lower than this number. Although $55,000 might sound like a lot of money, it is not all that impressive when you consider it has to cover housing expenses, food and transportation. Does that mean many families might be facing economic crunches even if they are not officially counted as being part of the suburban poor?

Families that owe credit card debt owe an average of $15,654 in this type of debt. They might also have a mortgage plus car loans and educational debts.

 Do you think that life will become harder for the suburban poor as elements of America’s social service network, including TANF (Temporary Relief for Needy Families), are beginning to unravel?

Model Paper

 I hope this model paper for the assignment on Urban Poverty, will give you some helpful guidance as you complete your first paper. Do not simply copy this model paper; instead, utilize it as a reference/ guideline as you write your own essay.

During the decades after World War II, our country’s suburbs were populated almost exclusively by middle class people who fled cities seeking the American Dream. That ideal had both material – a large lot; house with a white picket fence – and psychological components – a belief that things were good and would soon get even better, thanks to hard work.

 Now, however, a new dynamic has come to the suburbs. Research conducted by the Brookings Institute concluded that between 2000 and 2011, the number of poor residents in the suburbs of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas grew by 64 percent. That figure represents more than twice the rate experienced within inner city areas. In other words, a major transition that involved literally millions of people – a cultural makeover worthy of note – took place.

 Low estimates

And depending upon how you define “poverty” these figures might actually be low, failing to account for the number of suburbanites who are financially stressed in the extreme. If somebody does not have a roof over their head or anything to eat, they would be considered “poor” by anybody’s definition.

But what about the literally millions of (suburban) Americans who are heavily in debt, a paycheck or a car repair away from serious trouble? They might look as if they are enjoying a middle class lifestyle, but their hold on this world is precarious.

An Atlantic article notes that about half of all Americans, some of whom live in upscale neighborhoods, could not come up with $400 to handle an emergency. Are these individuals poor? Might some of them be counted amongst the suburban poor, even though official government statistics do not place in this category? It is hard to know

Reasons why the numbers are growing

The fact that the suburban poor are growing in numbers is hardly surprising when you consider the following:

A confluence of factors have caused many suburbanites to fall out of the middle class: the loss of manufacturing jobs (de-industrialization); income stagnationthe outsourcing of jobs; digitalization (computers taking jobs people formerly held).

Gentrification, the movement of more affluent people into inner city communities, has resulted in long-term residents of these neighborhoods being priced out of their homes. Seeking affordable housing, many of these individuals moved to inner ring suburbs where homes that are considered outdated have become reasonably priced.

 Poverty can be invisible

 No matter how you chose to define poverty or what you figure might be causing it, however, one thing remains certain. Even if the poverty rate in a suburb rises over the years, individuals who met up with hard times often remain essentially invisible. For example, census data indicates that the poverty rate in Cleveland Heights is about 20 per cent.

 Yet, you could walk around sections of that city, such as the Cedar Lee shopping strip, and not see anything but people who look well groomed, well dressed and well fed. Appearances can be deceiving, but virtually none of the visitors to this strip seem weighted down by economic strains. Rather, they walk with a smile on their ace and an assured pace and carriage as they go to restaurants or to the cinema.

Another consideration: The public schools are often places where children/ families of all shapes, sizes and economic means come into contact with one another. They can be a cohesive force that binds a community together. No group remains invisible to another group.

But they do not seem to be serving that purpose in the Cleveland Heights/ University Heights School District. Rather, this district has a very high percentage of students who attend private/ parochial schools.


The fact that it is poorly ranked by the State of Ohio seemingly serves as an impetus for parent who can afford this option to send their children elsewhere. And when they make that decision, their children probably have little contact with the children who attend the public schools.

 For the Second Part I would say:

I have long volunteered at a food pantry that serves Cleveland Heights and adjacent communities. During this period of time, several things have become clear to me, as I have witnessed suburban poverty first hand. Here are some of the observations I have made.

 A Good Presentation

Many of the clients at the center are amazingly well dressed. I do not honestly know if struggling to put a “pretty face forward to the world” is more intrinsic to suburban poverty than it is to poverty anywhere else. In either case, however, the fact that these individual look as if life is treating them well comes blaring out to me.

And if somebody, turning a bit skeptical, asks me, “Why don’t those clients buy food instead of spending their money on clothes? If they can afford to dress well, why are they coming into the hunger center?” I really do not know how I would respond to those questions.

Clients Are Working and Must Be Good Record Keepers

Many of the families that come into the center do work but likely do not make enough money to meet their nutritional needs. How would I know such a thing? Well, a large number of them come into the facility wearing work clothes. Also, the center becomes particularly crowded when it is open in the evening outside of normal business hours– after five o’clock pm.

Then, there is the fact that to receive allotments from the center people are obliged to show, among other things: their children’s birth certificates; bills from utility or other official correspondences proving that they live at an address the center is designated to serve. Clearly, these individuals have to be very efficient record keepers; in a very real sense, they have to work for what they get from the place.


 Segment Two:

The New Urbanism


picture credit:



Attempting to replicate the communities where immigrants lived after they first came to this country between approximately 1890 and1920, the New Urbanism stresses walkability and compactness. Yet, no matter how extensively these principles are dissected and analyzed, the “New Urbanism” still remains a tricky term to define. And there is a good reason for that ambiguity. This model has become hip and trendy and developers want to mold it into a form they can market profitably.

Some developers have attempted to follow the New Urbanism model as they create communities that are “perfect” in every conceivable way. A prime example is Celebration, Florida which was constructed by the Disney Corporation.

Other business interests, meanwhile, have sought to develop New Urbanism communities within already existing cities, often situating them in the exact same locale immigrants frequented during previous decades. These neighborhoods can become very expensive as they turn trendy, with Brooklyn and the Lower East Side  in NYC being prime examples of that happening.

Despite the fact that the New Urbanism might come in many shapes and sizes one thing seems certain. The selling points utilized in marketing New Urbanism communities are quite different than are those used in marketing suburban communities.

The latter are marketed as featuring large lots and plenty of privacy – paint your own castle – plus ready access to freeways that will take you wherever you want to go. New Urbanism communities, on the other hand, are touted as being special because they make it possible for residents to walk to work or play and enjoy socializing in public places.

List of Resources About the New Urbanism

Watch these videos


Hardie, James. "Embracing New Urbanism in the School Street Development." youtube,4 Nov, 2015. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

"Leaving the Car Behind: Making Cities Walkable." youtube, 23 Jan., 2013. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

McLaughlin, Max, "New Urbanism vs. Suburbanism.” youtube, 5 Dec, 2007. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

“Seaside at 30” youtube, . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Simies, Randy. "Short Film on Seaside, Florida Wins Award at New Urbanism Film Festival." urbancincy, 15 Dec, 2013.  Accessed 27 June, 2017.

 Visit these web sites which contain Information

about the New Urbanism


Congress for the New Urbanism., Accessed 27 June, 2017.

The New Urbanism Organization. newurbanism, . Accessed June 27, 2017.

Read these articles that discuss the New Urbanism

"Benefits of New Urbanism." abqgahp, 16 August, 2016. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

Berger, Joseph. "Suburbs Try to Prevent an Exodus as Young Adults Move to Cities and Stay." nytimes, 16 April, 2014. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

This article notes that a large number of young people are moving from the suburbs into the urban core possibly because they have been attracted to these locales by the New Urbanism.

Briney, Amanda. "New Urbanism is Taking Planning to a New Level." geography, 27 Feb., 2017. Accessed 11ustust, 2017.

 "4 Benefits of New Urbanism Design." powerhousegrowers, 16 August, 2016. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

"New Urbanist Neighborhoods: A Return to Tradition." hgtv, 16 August 2016. Accessed 27 June, 2017.

"Urban Sprawl (suburban sprawl) vs. New Urbanism." lewishistoricalsociety, August, 2016. . Accessed 27 June, 2017.

 Look at these pictures of structures that follow the New Urbanism model.

“Architecture, Landscape and Urban Design,” architecturestyles, Accessed 27 June, 2017.

“New Urbanism Classics.” bsahomeplans, . Accessed 27 June, 2017


More Information on the New Urbanism


Here is more information on the New Urbanism; most of these articles present this model in a positive light. However, some of the articles are quite nuanced

“Benefits of New Urbanism.” eclipsenow, . Accessed 27 Dec., 2017.

Berl, Rachel Pomerance. "Can 'New Urbanism' Bring Health to Your Neighborhood." health.usnews. 7 June, 2012. Accessed 27 Dec., 2017.

Brineyguest, Amanda. "New Urbanism: New Urbanism is Taking Planning to a New Level." thoughtco, Accessed 12 Feb., 2018.

Conn, Steven. "Let’s make suburbs into cities: New urbanism, car culture and the future of community." salon, 17 August, 2014. Accessed 12 Feb., 2018.

Fulton, William. "The New Urbanism: Hype or Hope for American Communities." lincolninst, . Accessed 12 Feb., 2018.

Green, Jared. "Duany: The Promise of Suburbia Has Been Betrayed," huffingtonpost, 28 July, 2016. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

 “193+ Homes for Sale.” ndgreaterorlandorealestate, Accessed 12 February, 2018.


The New Urbanism: Some

Skeptical Voices 

 picture credit


By some accountings, the New Urbanism has some strong selling points; it safeguards the environment while it also provides diverse and vibrant living spaces. As might be expected, however, not everybody takes such a positive view of this model. They claim, among other things, that New Urbanism communities are overcrowded and too expensive for mass consumption. These articles speak to that point.

DeWolf, Chris. "Why New Urbanism Fails." planetizen, 18 Feb, 2012. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Durack, Ruth. "Village Vices: The Contradiction of New Urbanism and Sustainability." placesjournal. Accessed 27 Dec., 2017.

Fulton, William. "The New Urbanism Movement Might Be Dead." governing Accessed 12 February, 2018.

Johnson, Robert. "Why 'New Urbanism' Isn't for Everyone." nytimes, 20 Feb., 2015. Accessed 11 August, 2017.

Kotkin, Joel. "The Myth of the Back-to-the-City Migration." newgeography, 6 July, 2010. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Lindsay, Greg. "New Urbanism for the Apocalypse." fastcompany, . Accessed 12 Feb., 2018.

Nazaryn, Alexander. "White City: The New Urban Blight Is Rich People." newsweek, 2 Apr, 2014. Accessed July 13, 2017.

"Problems with our new urbanism." statesman, 30 July, 2011. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Salustri, Cathy." New Urbanist Neighborhood Pitfalls."housingpredictor Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Steuteville, Robert. "The Problems of Success in the New Urbanism Era." smartgrowth, Accessed 12 Feb., 2018.


Downtown Cleveland: An

Example of Revitalization that Follows the New Urbanism Model

As has happened to other industrial cities during recent decades, Cleveland plunged into serious economic challenges. Recently, however, Downtown Cleveland has undergone a major facelift and it now exemplifies many aspects of the New Urbanism model – compactness, mass-transit based, multi-use buildings.

This transition has garnered considerable attention much of it positive but a certain amount of it negative. Claims have been forwarded to the effect this revitalization (of Downtown) has done little to boost the rest of the city, which is still experiencing a high poverty rate of 36% according to census data.

Baca, Alex. "Cleveland Rising?" theamericanconservative. 14 July, 2016. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

“Downtown Cleveland Alliance.” , Accessed12 Feb., 2018.

Hartshorn, Kristen. “The Erie Building Lofts' tour - - New York City style living in downtown Cleveland (video)." cleveland, 7 March 2016. Accessed 12 Feb., 2018.

Perkins, Olivera. "Ground broken for The Lumen at Playhouse Square, billed as largest downtown residential project in 40 years." cleveland, 5 April, 2018.  . Accessed 6 April, 2018.

Sandy, Eric. “The Downtown Lowdown.” clevescene, 3 Feb., 2016. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

This article from Scene Magazine raises some interesting questions.

At this point, people are flocking to Downtown Cleveland. But many of these individuals are renting apartments instead of buying properties. Almost by its very nature, renting is a temporary arrangement. What will happen when the leases people have signed (on Downtown apartments) expire? Will Downtown addresses still be considered hip and a status symbol or will it have lost its luster by that point?

Are people attracted to Downtown because it enjoys many amenities, such as stores or entertainment venues? Or, have these amenities come into being because people are relocating Downtown for other reasons? It is a chicken or the egg question.

Schneider, Keith. "A Revitalized Cleveland Is Ready for Its Close-Up. nytimes, 28 July, 2016. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

"This is Downtown Cleveland." youtube, 13 July, 2017.


Outline for the Paper on the

New Urbanism

This exam should be at least 850 words in length. To earn a high score follow these guidelines: Focus laser-like on the topic at hand. Your writing should be concise but clear. Details are essential and examples are always welcomed. Don’t be shy about expressing your opinions. You should present a list of works cited that provides essential information about the sources you utilized in completing this assignment.

 Part One

In completing this section of the paper, respond to these questions.

Do you think that the New Urbanism will be reshaping the American landscape as developers and others attempt to construct their version of this model?

Or, do you predict that it will simply prove to be a trend – somebody’s version of hipness - that attracts nobody other than members of a very specific demographic?

Did anything you read or saw make you think that you would find a New Urbanism community appealing?

Do you think that it might offer amenities that suburbs simply do not?

Do you think that it might, for example, afford residents a greater sense of adventure than might suburbs?

Do you think that the New Urbanism can be linked to gentrification? 

As it attracts more affluent residents to an inner city neighborhood, the original residents of that community might be priced out of their homes. Is that necessarily a bad thing?

A real estate agent who is trying to interest a perspective buyer in a suburban property would probably point to the fact it features spaciousness and is located in a good school district. What sales pitches might be utilized in marketing a residence in a New Urbanism community?

Part Two

Visit a community that exemplifies the New Urbanism model. Then, answer these questions.

Did you see elements of the New Urbanism in practice as you walked through it?

Did you see a diverse group of people socializing or shopping in the neighborhood you visited?

Did the neighborhood have a mix of businesses and homes?

Was this community compact, taking up relatively little space?

Did you enjoy the time you spent in this community?

What suggestions might you present that would make this community more appealing to prospective home owners?

Would it, for example, benefit if more housing was intermingled with the businesses that dot it?

Note: Some students in this class might not live anywhere near a neighborhood that might be defined as following the New Urbanism model. So, it might be very difficult, if not virtually impossible for them to complete the assignment as it is described.

If you find yourself in that position, it obviously will prove difficult if not downright impossible for you complete this paper following the directions described in the preceding paragraphs. So, focus your attention on your hometown and ask yourself would it be likely to adopt some aspects of the New Urbanism model? Do you think it might benefit from adopting them?

Model Paper

Here is an abbreviated model of a paper you might write in completing this assignment. Obviously, you know that although you can use it as a model you should not simply copy it.

They lacked the resources to move into more upscale areas. So, when immigrants arrived in this country between approximately 1890 and 1920, they moved into neighborhoods that were considered undesirable in every conceivable way – slum housing full of germs, dirt and crime. Ambitious types were anxious to escape from these communities as soon as they possibly could and breathe the clean air that flowed through more pristine communities.

Yet, as always seems to happen, times have changed. In an ironic twist, during recent years, New Urbanism communities that take their inspiration from these settlements which were once maligned have become both hip and trendy in the extreme.

Condominiums in neighborhoods which follow this model – compact, transit-oriented, multi-use buildings - can become exorbitantly expensive, being priced in the tens of millions. That is particularly the case within certain NYC zip codes that are currently considered very prestigious addresses. People are lining up with cash in hand to purchase homes in these areas when and if they become available.

The New Urbanism is Marketed Differently Than Are Suburban Communities

New Urbanism communities have became trendy – not to mention exorbitantly expensive – for one basic reason. They have been marketed in ways that have resonated with those who could afford them. Most of all, they are touted as offering a sense of excitement and adventure, even if they might become a bit noisy or overwhelming at times. They are represented as being places where as the song “New York New York” puts it those small time blues are melting away and you can wake up in a city that never sleeps.

These selling points represent virtually the polar opposite  of the selling points that are reiterated over and over when suburbs are being marketed. Prospective home buyers/ renters are told that these communities feature peace and quiet, not to mention all the privacy you could possibly want. And they are assured in no uncertain terms that the schools, the police, municipal services and virtually everything else about this community remain excellent by anybody’s strict standards.

 Downtown Cleveland: an example of the New Urbanism

In exploring an example of the New Urbanism, I visited Downtown Cleveland. As is the case with virtually all communities that follow the New Urbanism model, convenience and accessibility represent two of its major selling points. Residents of this neighborhood can walk to a wide variety of different entertainment venues – baseball games, football games, theatres. They might even be able to walk to work, a definite time and money saver.

At least in my opinion, however, there are definitely things that that this community (Downtown Cleveland) lacks, with parks being high on that list. Urban parks can provide a great refuge from city life, helping people’s psyche while they also benefit the environment.

Public Square has been renovated; it does provide people with places to sit and socialize. And it does have some interesting sculptors. Yet, it is bereft of much greenery – flowers, plants, anything - or places where people can simply enjoy privacy, and that seems unlikely to change in the near future.

A Paucity of Interesting Architecture

Also, although the newly-constructed buildings in this area might have much to offer in terms of convenience, they generally are not that interesting architecturally. On the contrary, they seem rather boxy, as if they were all cut from the same mold.

For the most part, they are more functional than anything else. Even the new library building – officially, the Louis Stokes annex – might be described in these terms. The Federal Reserve Bank building just down the street (Superior Avenue) from this structure seems to have much more style; among other things, it features pink granite floors.

Possibly, if I returned to Downtown Cleveland in 10 years, I would find that it has evolved in many exciting ways. It is hard to know. That might all depend upon how many visitors and residents it continues to attract and the demographics of the people who call it home.

A final evaluation

The New Urbanism definitely has a powerful appeal. The fact that NYC’s population has surged to 8.6 million makes that statement obvious. It seemingly indicates that people are flocking to that city at least in part because the New Urbanism communities that have become part of its fabric beckon them.

Yet, despite the fact it has gained considerable popularity, particularly among young professionals, some very strongly-held criticisms have been launched against the New Urbanism. It has been lambasted for being too crowded and not affording residents as much privacy as they might enjoy elsewhere. And because it remains trendy, many observers have doubted that the properties people purchase in these areas will retain their value.

Possibly, more than anything else, however, the New Urbanism has been linked to gentrification whereby more affluent individuals move into a community, pushing up housing prices until long-term residents are priced out of their homes. How are gentrification and the New Urbanism linked? Well, that is an easy one. As they work to re-envision a gentrifying neighborhood in ways that will appeal to buyers with cash to spend, developers often follow the New Urbanism model.


Segment Three:

Broken Windows Policing

An Introduction




Picture credit:

Broken windows policing is based upon a commonsensical premise that might be summarized as follows. If a community cracks down on quality of life offenses - rowdiness, loitering, panhandling - in a timely manner, it can prevent them from spiraling into serious criminality. In other words, deal with the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.

Broken windows policing is also touted for being able to produce results at minimal costs. It does not require the establishment of expensive social programs. Rather, it is carried out by police officers who are already on the  force. These articles provide some details about this strategy.

Articles About Broken

Windows Policing

Arnade, Chris. "Bringing Broken-Windows Policing to Wall Street." theatlantic, 7 July, 2015. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Beck, Charlie and Connie Rice. "How Community Policing Can Work." nytimes, 12 August, 2016. Accessed 1 Jan., 2018.

Donald, Heather Mac. "'Broken Windows Policing Does Work.”
nationalreview, 8 June, 2015. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Friedersdorf, Conor. "Applying 'Broken Windows' to the Police." theatlantic, Dec, 2014. Accessed July 13, 2017.

Kelling, George, "Don't Blame My ‘Broken Windows' Theory for Poor Policing." politico, . Accessed 13, 2017.

Kirchner, Lawrence."Breaking Down Broken Windows Theory." psmag,7 Jan., 2014. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

This article contains an intriguing statement "disorder does not cause crime; rather, disorder and crime co-exist, and are both caused by the same social and economic factors." That assertion indicates that crime will not decline to any discernible degree until the underlying (social/ economic) challenges that create unrest are mediated, possibly through social programs.

McKee, Adam J. "Broken windows theory." britannica, . Accessed 13 July, 2017. 

Murray, David W. and John P. Walters. "'Broken Windows' policing is not broken." foxnews, 5 June, 2015. Accessed 13 July 2017.

Peters, Justin. "Loose Cigarettes Today, Civil Unrest Tomorrow." slate, 5 Dec., 2014. . Accessed 13 July, 2017. 

This article maintains that broken windows has a racist aspect (origin) that virtually cannot be overlooked. 

Wilson, James Q. and George L. Kelling. "Broken Windows." manhattan-institute, . Accessed 13 July, 2017. 

This article introduced the concept of broken windows policing to the public. 

Philip Zimbardo. "The Lucifer Effect." sociologyindex, Accessed 13 July, 2017.

In this article Philip Zimbardo talks about an experiment he conducted. He placed abandoned cars in two separate locations: the Bronx (NYC); Palo Alto, California, near the Stanford campus. In the first location, a rough community, the vehicle was almost immediately ransacked.

However, something quite different was conducted in Palo Alto, a very upscale neighborhood. The vehicle was left virtually untouched until he and others broke its windows. At that point, it was completely demolished by residents/ passers-by. His work supports the basic concepts of broken windows policing – if they are left unrepaired broken windows become an invitation to commit serious mayhem virtually anywhere.

What Opponents View as Being the Shortcomings of Broken Windows Policing

Proponents of broken windows policing praise its ability to safeguard communities by eliminating even the appearance of danger/ disarray. But it also has its share of sharp critics who claim, among other things, that it fails to curtail all forms of criminal activity and can end up harming individuals whom it targets. Here are some points these observers have made:


It has been estimated that cybercrime will cost businesses and individuals $2 trillion by 2019, extracting a very heavy toll. Broken windows policing would not be able to prevent these offenses from occurring. It is not designed to do that, being targeted most specifically towards street crime.

Only applies to one neighborhood

Even if broken windows policing does bring down crime rates in a neighborhood that does not necessarily mean it has prevented offenses from being committed elsewhere. It simply means that particular area may have become “safer.” 

Difference between crime rates as they are experienced in a community and reported crime rates

Official crime statistics are not necessarily an accurate accounting of the crimes that are committed in an area; they only represent the offenses that are reported to the authorities. So, these statistics do not always measure the effectiveness of broken windows policing – or, of any other policing strategy for that matter. 


An inner city community might be considered undesirable, as people point to its deteriorating buildings and its high crime rate. Nothing, however, stays the same forever and a decaying neighborhood is no exception to that general rule.

For any number of reasons, more affluent people might begin moving into it, a transformation known, as gentrification. As this process takes hold, housing values in that community might skyrocket. The original residents might be priced out of their homes.

These (more affluent) individuals might begin setting high standards for the neighborhood they now call home; they might expect it to present a pretty face to the world. At that point, broken windows policing might be brought into play as city officials attempt to ensure this community maintains an appealing ambience, attracting ever increasing numbers of families with cash to spend. In criticizing broken windows policing, some observers have pointed to this link between it and gentrification.

Gentrification has been particularly impactful in Brooklyn where brownstones regularly sell for millions of dollars. This rant by film maker Spike Lee expresses his dismay at the transformation of the borough which he calls home.

It should be noted, however, that not everybody views gentrification as being a negative thing that works strongly to the detriment of less affluent individuals. They maintain that it can make a neighborhood more vibrant and strengthen a city’s tax base by boosting the value of its housing stock.

Power Issues

When broken windows policing comes into play, this strong message is being delivered: If you want to spend time in my neighborhood, you better bring your behavior up to my standards. As that warning is voiced, some people feel that they are being prohibited from doing things – playing loud music, hanging out on street corners – that others might find annoying but are not directly harming anybody.


Suspicions seemingly lie at the heart of broken windows policing.  Somebody might be arrested for committing a quality of life offense because the police suspect they will eventually cause more serious disruptions if they are not apprehended.  This arrest might result in their ending up with a criminal record, a black mark that could impede their future employment possibilities.

 Broken Windows in New York City


NYC Subway 70s 


Picture credit:

Broken windows policing has proved highly contentious throughout the entire country. The controversies that it has stirred in NYC have, however, been particularly strong. Observers with an activist bent have accused the police in that city of stopping and frisking people who were not necessarily guilty of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And taking their comments a step further, they have claimed that serious problems have befallen people who found themselves on the losing side of these encounters. These individuals, most typically young minority group men, have ended up with a criminal record that prevented them from finding meaningful employment.

Other observers, however, have viewed these matters from a completely different perspective. They argue that broken windows policing has helped to make NYC more orderly, the safest big city in America. And they have also noted that many of the people arrested as the police cracked down on quality of life offenses have turned out to have warrants out against them for serious crimes. For example, a man arrested for jumping a subway turnstile was discovered to be wanted for attempted murder.

These articles present various opinions as regards broken windows policing in NYC.

Bratton, Bill. "How Broken Windows policing saved New York - and still does." nypost, 30 April, 2015. . Accessed 9 March, 2018.

Bratton, William J. and George L. Kelling. "Why We Need Broken Windows Policing." city-journal, Winter, 2015. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Bouie, Jamelle. "Broken Windows Policing Kills People." slate, 5 August, 2014. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

“Broken windows Theory.” huffingtonpost, 5 August, 2014. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Kelling, George L. "How New York Became Safe: The Full Story." city-journal, Special Issue, 2009. Accessed 9 March, 2018.

Parascandola, Rocco, Fermino, Jennifer, Larry McShane. "NYPD Commisioner Bill Bratton defends 'broken windows' policing, says it works and will stay." nydailynews, 30 April, 2015. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Peters, Justin. "Broken Windows Policing Doesn't Work." slate, 3Dec, 2014. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Roberts, Sam. "Author of 'Broken Windows' Policing Defends His Theory." nytimes, 10 August, 2014. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Sterbenz, Christina.  "How New York City Became Safe Again." businessinsider, 2 Dec, 2014. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Zimring, Franklin E. "How the 'broken windows' strategy saved lives in NYC." nypost, 24 August, 2014. . Accessed 9 March, 2018.

In talking about these matters, however, it should be noted that efforts are now ongoing to replace stop and frisk with a more gentle strategy that has sometimes come to be known as stop, question and frisk. As these articles note, several factors have precipitated these changes: court rulings; the city’s falling crime rate.

Baker, Al. "Street Stops by New York Police Have Plummeted." nytimes, 30 May, 2017. Accessed 9 March, 2018.

Cohen, Shawn and Laura Italiano. "Cops will stop busing turnstile jumpers: source." nypost, 1 Feb., 2018. . Accessed 9 March, 2018.

The Editorial Board. "Reforms Rein In Police Harassment; Now More is Needed.” nytimes, 27 Dec., 2017. Accessed 9 March, 2018.

Mueller, Benjamin. "New York Police Dept. Agrees to Curb Stop-and-Frisk Tactics. nytimes, . Accessed 9 March, 2018.

Broken Windows in

San Francisco

“Ohio to
 San Fransico: Haight Street 1967 (Plate 14)” by Herb Greene. 

Picture credit:

By many accountings, San Francisco is a beautiful city with a glorious bridge that crosses a bay (The Golden Gate Bridge) and fogs that gently roll into it off the Pacific Ocean. But it might be too pretty for its own good; more people than its limited space could possibly accommodate are flocking to it. If nothing else, they want to be bathed in its mild climate.

At least some of the people who have relocated in San Francisco are high tech workers who commute to jobs in nearby Silicon Valley. Paid hefty salaries, they can afford sky high rents and this fact has pushed up housing prices, with many long terms residents being priced out of the city by these increases. In other words, gentrification is in progress.

And has it has progressed, tensions have risen between these affluent professionals (new arrivals) and less affluent (long term) residents. These articles speak to that point.

Burrell, Ian. "Rise in gay homeless people threatens San Francisco's name as gay-friendly mecca." independent, 1 July, 2013. . Accessed 9 March, 2018.

Dougherty, Conor. "San Francisco Ballots Turn Up Anger Over the Technical Divide." nytimes, 1 Nov, 2015. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Hardy, Quentin. "Blending Tech Workers and Locals in San Francisco's Troubled  Mid-Market." nytimes, 17 August, 2015. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Wollan, Malia and David Streitfeld. "Buses for Tech Workers in San Francisco Will Pay Fee." nytimes, 21 Jan., 2014. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

As these articles indicate, many people have found their own “solutions” to the rising rents in San Francisco, making housing affordable on their own admittedly quirky terms.

Beato, Greg. "Communities Come Together to Make Homes More Affordable." nytimes, 3 Nov, 2015. . Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Bowles, Nellie. "Dorm Living for Professionals Comes to San Francisco." nytimes,4 March, 2018. . 9 March, 2018.

Nir, Sarah Maslsin. "Thinking Outside the Box by Moving Into One." nytimes, 13 Oct, 2015. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

But while some people have devised their own strategies for surviving the housing crisis in San Francisco, others are becoming homeless. In some instances, the authorities have found means of pushing the homeless and others out of that urban center. Their strategies which many label nothing other than harassment might be described as having an element of broken windows policing – clean up the place so it looks good for people who can afford it.

San Francisco has always had a reputation for liberal activism and tolerance. During the summer of love (summer, 1967), counter culture types flocked there to celebrate with kindred free spirits. So, the harassment of the homeless, as described in these articles, might viewed as being a repudiation of its mellowed tradition. 

Keys, Scott. "San Francisco Could Make It Illegal For Homeless People To Sleep In Parks At Night." thinkprogress, 22 Oct, 2013. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Klein, Andrew. San Francisco Homeless Advocates to Public Transit Police: "Stop Criminalizing Homelessness." truth-out, 20 Nov., 2014. Accessed 9 March, 2018.

Krause, David. "Homeless Forced From Market Street.” truth-out, 8 May, 2014. Web. Accessed 13 July, 2017.

Lyons, Jarrett. "Bay Area start-up deploys robots to harass homeless." salon, 13 Dec., 2017. . Accessed 9 March, 2018.

"One-Legged Homeless Black Man Brutalized by San Francisco Police." melanoidnation, . Accessed 9 March, 2018.

San Francisco Police Steal Property of Homeless People (Video). copblock, Accessed 9 March, 2018.

Wood, Daniel. "San Francisco's Homeless Plan is under Fire Program's Backers Cite 4,000 Arrests for 'Quality-of-Life Nuisance Offenses' and a Drop in the Crime Rate, but Critics Say Chronic Homeless and Minorities Are Being Harassed." questia, . Accessed 13 July, 2017.


Outline for the Paper on

Broken Windows Policing

This exam should be at least 850 words in length. Focus laser-like on the topic at hand. Your writing should be concise but clear. Details are essential and examples are always welcomed. Don’t be shy about expressing your opinions. You should present a list of works cited that provides essential information about the sources you utilized in completing this assignment.

In completing your third written assignment, you should respond to these questions, presenting some basic information about broken windows policing. 

What major arguments have been forwarded in support of broken windows policing?

What steps do proponents of this strategy maintain should be taken to reduce criminality in a community?

Who first proposed this theory?

What previous research did these individuals point to in substantiating their theory? 

Could enacting broken windows policing help the authorities to stabilize a neighborhood without having to enact (expensive) social programs?

Might this fact make it a good fit for municipalities that have tight budgets? 

Could certain groups be targeted as broken windows policing is being enforced?

Looking back in history, have other policing strategies also targeted certain groups?

Could being apprehended by the police as they crack down on quality of life crimes have a negative impact upon somebody’s future (job opportunities)?

Does broken windows policing impose a certain mode of behavior on people, resulting in individuals being apprehended for conduct that might be distracting but is not directly criminal?

What policing strategies do you personally think could prove more impactful than is broken windows?

Could a version of broken windows policing prove effective in schools, possibly even working to prevent a tragedy (school shooting)?

Do you think that broken windows policing might benefit your community, making it safer and granting residents a higher quality of life?

Model Paper

Here is an abbreviated model essay for the paper on broken windows. As you obviously realize, you should not copy this paper, but you can use it as a guide to ensure you properly understand how this assignment might be completed.

Background on Broken Windows Policing

The theory behind “broken windows” policing is pretty straightforward and could be summarized as follows: Panhandling, loitering rowdiness and other quality of life offenses might appear to be mere annoyances, not something that can physically harm anybody. However, unless these offenses are curtailed, they might escalate into serious criminality; a community could sink below a tipping point into depletion.

James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling first introduced the public to broken windows policing in an (Atlantic) article entitled “Broken Windows.” Their words have resonated for decades after this piece was first published, arousing considerable controversy from all sides.

In noting that qualify of life offenses can spiral into serious crime if they are allowed to continue unabated, Wilson and Kelling relied upon research findings compiled by Philip Zimbardo. He placed an abandoned car in Palo Alto, California, home to Stanford University and a very upscale community.

The vehicle simply stood there, unharmed until some of its windows were broken. At that point, the car was completely demolished, most likely by community residents. Their destructiveness was interpreted as being an indication serious criminality can occur in any community if broken windows go unrepaired.

Weaknesses of Broken Windows Policing

Broken windows policing is based upon the premise that cracking down on quality of life offenses will prevent serious criminality from gaining a foothold in a neighborhood. And proponents of that strategy who talk in these terms clearly do have a point. A well maintained neighborhood does not invite mayhem while the opposite might be said about a community that looks in disarray. But broken windows policing does appear to have some serious drawbacks and limitations that might be outlined as follows.

Power Could Be Abused

When broken windows policing is put into play, some important questions jump to the fore.  Who determines what behavior is unacceptable and should be strongly controlled, expunged from the community. Does the community as a whole make these determinations?

Or, do police make their own decisions about these matters? Could the police abuse their power? Could they harass people who are not engaging in criminality but whose behavior might be disquieting to others? Are certain groups targeted when this type of vigilance comes into play?

The answers to these questions have real world significance because if somebody is targeted and then, subsequently, arrested for a minor (quality of life) offense they could end up with a criminal record. This black mark might follow them throughout their life, impeding their chances of ever finding a job - economic security.

A few paragraphs about NYC (stop and frisk) would be inserted at this point. It would talk about the stop and frisk policy which has been ongoing in that city.

The Link Between Gentrification and

Broken Windows Policing

Gentrification occurs when, for whatever reasons, more affluent people move into a neighborhood that was previously considered “undesirable.” As this transformation begins to take hold, many long-term residents might be pushed out of the area, a fact that has made some observers strongly critical of this process.

As upscale folks relocate in a community, they might demand that it become cleaner, safer and generally more aesthetically pleasing.  In answering these demands, local authorities/ developers might begin a cleanup campaign – their version of broken windows policing – as they attempt to make the neighborhood more appealing, attracting an ever increasing numbers of affluent individuals. Consequently, a link might exist between broken windows policing and gentrification.

A few paragraphs about San Francisco would be inserted at this point in the paper. That city has been experiencing what might be termed a crisis as tensions rise between highly-paid tech industry workers and less affluent residents.

Nothing New

In theory, broken windows policing targets virtually anybody who commits a quality of life offense, a tough stance that is justified by the need to prevent minor offenses from escalating into serious criminality. However, critics of this policing strategy maintain that it unfairly targets minority group members. Some observers have even gone so far as to claim that it was specifically designed to serve that purpose.

These are serious accusation. However, these same claims have been launched against other policing strategies. This historical perspective speaks to this point which purported to make communities more orderly and safer.

During 1971, then President Richard Nixon announced that his administration was initiating a war on drugs. As he made that announcement, he stressed that strong measures were needed to protect the American public against the negative impact drugs could have upon their lives.

However, even people who were on the top echelon of this administration have come to acknowledge that a more secretive motive was responsible for government officials launching this effort. John Ehrlichman, who was Nixon’s chief domestic advisor and subsequently served 18 months in prison for his central role in the Watergate scandal stated bluntly that:

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.”

My Neighborhood

I live in Cleveland Heights. And, at least to my thinking, broken windows policing is already being practiced in this community in ways that are not always helpful. Namely, the police are fast to ticket people for parking and other minor violations. However, the suburb might benefit if the police spent more time getting out of their cars and actually communicate with the broad range of people who call this suburb home.


Segment Four:

Amazon Fulfillment Centers


Picture credit:


An Introduction


Anybody who took upon themselves the Herculean task of describing Amazon would soon run out of superlatives. “Vast” or “transformative” would do nothing more than serve as starting points when you consider that this behemoth has not only changed the way we shop but has also proved to be immensely profitable. Amazon earned $161.15 billion in revenues during 2016 and by the end of 2017 it had $24.31 billion in cash reserves, a near record for a publicly traded company.


Does Amazon destroy small businesses?


But what do any of these facts and figures mean in real world terms? Does Amazon represent a threat to small businesses which cannot compete with its vastness? The results of a survey that queried 3,000 business owners from around the country indicated that these entrepreneurs view it in these terms.

Fully seventy percent of the respondents listed competition from on line realtors as being their greatest challenge. And realtors have bemoaned the fact that people often do some fast price checking while they are still in their store, comparing the cost of items marketed in that business with those sold over Amazon.

A glance at what has happened to book sellers will make clear the fact that merchants have good reason to fear competition from Amazon. During 2014, 40 percent of all new books were sold through Amazon with that figure representing a steep increase from 12 percent (of all new books) only five years earlier.

As Amazon gained an increasing share of that market not only small independent book stores but also large chains such as Borders or Barnes and Noble were humbled. Toys “R” Us, a retailer with an international presence, recently closed many of its American stores; its collapse has been attributed, at least in part, to competition from Amazon.

And a report published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance takes this dialogue a step further. It notes that when (small) local businesses fall victim to competition from Amazon and other on line retailers, these enterprises are not the only ones that suffer. Rather, the social structure of the entire community begins to fray.

Or, at least it loses some of its cohesiveness as shopping becomes a solitary pursuit rather than an excursion into the neighborhood during which one mingles with neighbors and store employees/owners. Then, there is the tax revenue that local communities/ states forfeit when people shop at Amazon (on line) rather than at local stores, a loss that was estimated at $704 million during 2015

Yet, many observers view these matters through a totally different lens. They maintain that Amazon can greatly benefit small businesses if they somehow manage to harness its immense potential. This online realtor currently has 130 million global customers to whom businesses can market their wares.

And clever entrepreneurs can learn to mix and match. They can attract customers to their brick and mortar stores by offering them personalized service and also sell their wares over Amazon. As the saying goes, if you cannot beat them join them.

Amazon Fulfillment Centers

As might be expected from the fact it enjoys an extraordinarily wide reach, Amazon has customers who live virtually everywhere within the United States and it prides itself upon delivering orders to them in record time. Working to keep the flow moving, it has established a string of fulfillment centers which process purchases for delivery; they dot virtually all corners of the American landscape.

As is the case with virtually everything that Amazon touches, these centers have ignited controversy. Are they providing a welcomed boost to the distressed communities where they are located and the people who work in them? Or, are they simply places where people are poorly paid and worked beyond their physical and emotional limits?

Positive Views of Amazon

Fulfillment Centers

amazon fulfillment center 

picture credit:

During October, 2016 it was predicted that 100,000 jobs would be created in these facilities over the next 18 months. At that point, Amazon had 105 centers that were already operational and 35 more were in the planning stages.

Some observers have claimed that these centers provide a welcomed boost – a stronger tax base - for cities that were once thriving manufacturing centers but have recently fallen upon hard times. And they, likewise, maintain that on a more personal level these centers benefit people who might be unemployed if they did not find work in one of these facilities.

These articles articulate those sentiments:

Amazon fulfillment centers could have big impact in central Ohio. workforce.ohio, 13 July, 2016. . 19 March, 2018.

Mack, Eric. "Here Are the 12 Cities Where You Could Be Hired on the Spot for a Job With Amazon." inc, 27 July, 2017. Accessed 19 March, 2018.

O'Connor, Kevin. "Could Amazon's success in Nashua, N.H., foreshadow the future in Fall River?” heraldnews, 11 March, 2016. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Popken, Ben. "Fulfillment Center Warehouse Jobs Give New Life to Sleepy Towns." nbcnews, 26 Jul 2017. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Roger, Philips. "Amazon bringing facility, 1,000 jobs to Stockton." recordnet, 22 August, 2017. Dec., 2017.

Siddharth Cavale. "Amazon will hire 120,000 workers in the US for the holiday season this year." businessinsider, 12 Oct., 2017. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Silva-Braga, Brook. "Amazon Hires 120,000 Seasonal Employees, Some as Part of CamperForce." ozarksfirst, 22 Dec., 2017, Accessed 24 Dec., 2017.

Soper, Spencer."Amazon Is a Lifeline for Retail Workers (If They Live in the Right City)." bloomberg, 20 Sept., 2017. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Zaveri, Paayal, Aditi Roy. "A new industry is beginning to thrive in rural America, with Amazon leading the way." cnbc, 15 July 2017. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

These articles present the fulfillment centers in a positive light because they are technologically advanced, serving as a model for other companies to upgrade their facilities.

Hinchliffe, Emma. "Amazon follows Google, Apple with commitment to solar energy." mashable, 2 March, 2017. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Metz, Cade. "FedEx Follows Amazon Into the Robotic Future." nytimes. 18 March, 2018. Accessed 10 March, 2018.

"Robots do most of the work at Amazon fulfillment centers." wtvr, 6 Oct., 2017. Accessed 19, 2017.

Weise, Elizabeth. "Inside one of Amazon's robot-driven fulfillment centers on Cyber Monday." usatoday, 30 Nov., 2015. .  Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Wohlsen, Marcus. "A Rare Peek Inside Amazon's Massive Wish-Fulfilling Machine." wired,18 June 2014. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.


Skeptical views of Amazon

Fulfillment Centers


Truth be known, conditions in the Amazon fulfillment centers are probably nothing more than a reflection of the Amazon culture as it permeates this corporation. So if, as these articles indicate, Amazon has prospered by placing technology and profits about human concerns, it is only to be expected that its fulfillment centers will reflect that fact.

Kantor, Jodi and David Streitfeld. "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace." nytimes, 15 August, 2015. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Martinez, Amy and Kristi Heim, "Amazon a virtual no-show in hometown philanthropy." seattletimes, 31 March, 2012, . Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Scott, Ryan. "What Amazon Work Culture Tells Us About Employee Disengagement." forbes, 21 August, 2015. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Wingfield, Nick. "How Amazon Benefits From Losing Cities' HQ2 Bid." nytimes, 28 Jan., 2018. Accessed 2 Feb., 2018.

Wingfield, Nick. "Inside Amazon Go, a Store of the Future." nytimes, 21 Jan., 2018. . Accessed 10 March, 2018.

Wingfield, Nick and Nellie Bowles. "Jeff Bezos, Mr. Amazon, Steps Out." nytimes, 12 Jan., 2018. Accessed 2 Feb., 2018.

Wingfield, Nick and Brian X. Chen. Amazon and Apple Gush Over Holiday Sales." nytimes, 1 Feb., 2018. . Accessed 2 Feb., 2018.

These articles maintain that conditions at fulfillment centers are less than pleasant on many levels.

D'Onfro, Jillian and Madeline Stone. "See what it's like inside Amazon's massive warehouses." businessinsider, 17 August, 2015. Accessed19 Dec., 2017.

Glover, Mark. "Amazon workers sue, claiming denied overtime pay, rest breaks." sacbee, 30 Nov, 2017. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Green, Dennis. "A new study found that 700 employees in Ohio are on food stamps." businessinsider, Accessed 5 Feb., 2018.

Head, Simon. "Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers." salon, 23 Feb., 2014. . Accessed 19, Dec., 2017.

Hullinger, Jessica. 13 Secrets of Amazon Warehouse Employees." mentalfloss, 4 Nov., 2015. Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Jamieson, Dave. "The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp: What the future of low-wage work really looks like." huffingtonpost, . Accessed 19 Dec., 2017.

Jones, Janelle and Ben Zipperer. "Unfulfilled promises: Amazon fulfillment centers do not generate broad-based employment growth." epi, 1 Feb., 2018. Accessed 10 March, 2018.

Karlis, Nicole. "Jeff Bezos deemed richest man in the world while Amazon warehouse workers suffer grueling conditions." salon, 9 Jan., 2018. . Accessed 10 Jan., 2018.

Semuels, Alana, "What Amazon Does to Poor Cities: The debate over Amazon's HQ2 obscures the company's rapid expansion of warehouses in low-income areas. theatlantic, 1 Feb., 2018. .19 March, 2018.

Yeginsu. Ceylan. "If Workers Slack Off, the Wristband Will Know. (And Amazon Has a Patent for It.) nytimes, Accessed 2 Feb., 2018.


Cleveland Area Malls Turned into

Fulfillment Centers


Picture credit:

As has happened elsewhere, a number of Cleveland area malls have fallen into disrepair, the victims of changing times and shopping habits. Two of them – The North Randall Park Mall and the Euclid Square Mall – have been reborn as Amazon fulfillment centers.

The North Randall Park Mall was dubbed the largest in the world when it first opened during 1976. And it will continue to be huge by anybody’s definition as it serves as a fulfillment center that employs an estimated 2,000 workers and measures 855,000 square feet in size.

Its location is considered optimum because it stands in close proximity not only to Cleveland but also to Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh. Combined, these metropolitan areas are home to an estimated 3 million people, customers to whom Amazon can quickly ship orders.

The Euclid Square Mall opened during1977and closed about 20 years later. During its final iteration, it was home to an eclectic mix of small churches and businesses. The arrangements Amazon made when it purchased this facility with the intent of turning it into a fulfillment center were definitely favorable to its financial interests. It paid only about $7 million for the mall plus the 70-acre site that surrounds it.

And the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 10-year, job-creation tax credit for the project. That credit should eventually be worth $3.9 million, based on Amazon's prediction that it will generate $27.7 million in new, annual payroll on the site by the end of 2020.

 Outline for the Paper on Amazon Fulfillment Centers

This paper should be 850 words in length. You should focus laser-like on the topic at hand and details are always welcome.


Talk in general terms about Amazon. Do you think it merits all the attention it receives?

 Body of the Paper

Here are three essentially positive conclusions that some observers (journalists/ researchers) have reached about the fulfillment centers?

The fulfillment centers work to revitalize cities that have been left bereft as they lost manufacturing jobs.

These centers provide employment to people who might otherwise be unemployed.  People who work in one of these facilities might not be paid high wages, but they gain a foothold in the job market.

These facilities employ advanced technology (robotics) and they are energy efficient. Other corporations have followed their lead as they have upgraded their business operations.

Here are three essentially positive conclusions that observers (journalists/ researchers) have reached about the fulfillment centers?

Workers in these centers are pushed beyond their physical limits and otherwise abused.

Despite the fact it enjoys virtually unlimited resources, Amazon fails to pay the workers in its fulfillment center a living wage; these individuals qualify for government benefits, such as food stamp. So, in a very real sense, American taxpayers are subsidizing Amazon; possibly, that arrangement is one reason it has become so profitable.

Even though they might employ large numbers of workers, the fulfillment centers have not necessarily lowered unemployment rates in the cities where they are located.

Do you agree/ disagree with any of the aforementioned conclusions observers have reached about the fulfillment centers. As you respond to these questions, rely upon information that was presented in the assigned readings for this class or in any resources you accessed on your own. Your personal opinions are also welcome.

You have considerable leeway. You can limit your comments to your opinions about Amazon fulfillment centers. Or, you can intersperse opinions about Amazon as it has evolved as a corporation into your dialogue. 

In speaking to these points consider the following: Amazon prides itself upon being the “everything store,” selling virtually anything a customer might want or need. People who live in rural, urban or suburban areas can buy any item that is sold through this behemoth; their options are virtually unlimited.

And their purchases are processed/ delivered to them through the fulfillment centers. As that happens, does the fact that somebody lives in the country instead of in a city become less significant than might otherwise be the case? Do these distinctions blur? Remember, when you journey through cyberspace, your geographic location becomes in many ways irrelevant; you are where your computer/ mobile device says you are. Is that necessarily a good thing? Does it mean that the places where people live lose their significance?

 Model paper

Here is a model paper that details how you might compose your essay about Amazon fulfillment centers. Needless to say, you should not directly copy this discourse.


 picture credit:


 Say the word “Amazon” and the chatter starts immediately. Dubbed "the everything store," its vastness alone ensures that it will remain an ongoing topic of controversy for the foreseeable future. Some people will tell you how much time and money it has saved them as they shop on line.

Others, however, claim that this company has done nothing but enrich itself at the expense of mom and pop stores that cannot compete with it price-wise. And as is the case with virtually everything this behemoth touches, the Amazon fulfillment centers, work sites where purchases are processed/ delivered to literally millions of customers, have their staunch supporters and their equally staunch detractors.

The Fulfillment Centers: A Positive View

Amazon received more than 200 applications when it announced that it was looking for a second headquarter (HQ2) to supplement the one it has long had in Seattle, Washington. And that is hardly surprising because the city which is honored by becoming Amazon’s home away from home will receive considerable benefits.

The high tech workers whom it employs will bring with them not only an aura of hipness but also ready cash to spend on housing and other things. Local businesses will prosper, especially if they appeal to an upscale crowd. And as this happens, the city will gain welcomed tax revenue. 

However, many cities that do not meet the exacting standards to be considered as the site of its HQ2 could still end up enjoying that company’s largesse. They could become home to one of Amazon’s numerous fulfillment centers, work sites where orders are processed, that now dot the American landscape. And many of the towns that currently house these centers are down on their luck due to industries having left them and could definitely stand a helping hand.

Stockton, California is a case in point. City officials announced during August, 2017 that Amazon would be building a more than 600,000 square foot warehouse that will bring an estimated 1,000 jobs to the city. This announcement came only 5 years after Stockton declared bankruptcy. According to statistics published by the State of California during July, 2017 the Stockton area has an unemployment rate that at 7.7 percent was 3.1 percentage points above the national rate.

Part Two: The Amazon fulfillment centers a more skeptical viewpoint.

Amazon might make big promises when it brings a fulfillment center to distressed towns, such as Stockton; taxes and jobs will be coming their way. But there is some considerable evidence that these facilities do not pay these towns the windfall in sales taxes that they might have expected they would be enjoying.

And here are some other considerations:

Many fulfillment center employees receive food stamps and other government subsidies, qualifying for these benefits as low wage workers. So, in a very real sense, tax payers are subsidizing Amazon’s operation. Does such a highly profitable corporation deserve that type of largesse?

There is considerable evidence that the people who work in these facilities are abused on many levels, forced to exert themselves beyond their level of endurance. For example, an employee at the Allentown, Pennsylvania fulfillment center found that the speed at which he was expected to move items from large bins into packages slated for delivery was constantly being increased. It doubled from 75 pieces an hour to 150 pieces an hour within six months after he was first employed at the facility. He was written up when he could not meet these expectations and was eventually fired.

Part Three My Personal Thoughts on the Amazon Fulfillment Centers

My personal thoughts on the fulfillment centers are so convoluted - not to mention full of twists and turns - that they are hard to explain but I will try.

When Amazon places fulfillment centers in towns that are, for whatever reason, down on their luck it might play a major role in revitalizing these communities. But I strongly suspect that it often demands generous tax benefits and other concessions as a trade off for offering them a lifeline.

And these demands come with essentially no assurance they will remain in the city for a protracted length of time or ever pay what might be considered their fair share of taxes. The company is known to drive a hard bargain.

Then, there is the fact that because they might have few employment options other than to work at a fulfillment center – workers in these facilities remain vulnerable to being exploited on many levels. And their plight becomes more poignant when it is viewed from a historical perspective.

The immigrants came to this country from Europe between 1890 and 1910 did not know either the language or the culture. So, as is the case with the fulfillment center workers, their employment options were quite limited; they were often relegated to sweat shops where the working conditions were dangerous.

However, they formed unions, such as the International Ladies Garment Workers, that helped them gain their rights. Possibly, Amazon workers will do the same thing. But considering as the company has established a strict no union stance, it might be hard for them to even attempt making such a move.