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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 January 2016
Contemporary Denver is a metropolis shaped in the automobile age. When the Denver Planning Commission first warned about the “sinister disease” of decentralization in 1941 and reported “startling evidences of the flight of Denver residents across the corporate boundaries,” 72.4 percent of the population of the five-county Denver area lived within the city itself (Table 1). Thirty-five years later, metropolitan area population had more than tripled, but suburban growth had cut Denver’s share of the total to 35.8 percent. The suburban counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder and Jefferson accounted for one third of all Coloradans, and local residents ranked surburban sprawl as one of three major problems of the metropolitan area.
1 Denver Planning Commission, The Denver Plan, vol. 4: Preliminary Outline for a Regional Plan (1937), 8 and vol. 7: The Problem of Centralization and Decentralization (1941), 5-6.Google Scholar
2 New York Times, March 14, 1974.
3 For early concern about the suburban trend, see Denver Regional Association, Facing the Challenge of War and Post-War Problems in the Denver Area (Denver, 1943)Google Scholar; Proceedings of the Denver Metropolitan Area Conference (Denver, 1948); Denver Planning Commission, The Denver Plan, vol. 7: Centralization and Decentralization. For growth patterns to 1950, see City Club of Denver, The Tramway Problem in Denver (Denver, 1929)Google Scholar; Denver Planning Commission, The Denver Plan, vol. 4: Regional Plan, 9; United States, Bureau of the Census, maps of Denver Metropolitan District, 1940, and Denver Urbanized Area, 1950.
4 Denver Planning Office, Economic Base Analysis (1973), 30; Inter-County Regional Planning Commission, Population, Denver Metro Area: Current Estimates and Projections of Future Population (1965); United States, Bureau of the Census, maps of Denver Urbanized Area, 1960 and 1970.
6 Douglass, Harlan P., The Suburban Trend (New York, 1925), 74-122 Google Scholar; Ogburn, William F., Social Characteristics of Cities (Chicago, 1937), 47-60 Google Scholar; Harris, Chauncey, “Suburbs,” American Journal of Sociology, 49 (July 1943), 1-13 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The analysis of urban residential patterns performed by Homer Hoyt in the 1930s supplements the work of Ogburn and Harris. According to Hoyt, different types of land use tend to spread outward from the central business district in distinct sectors or wedges of differing social status and economic functions. The growth of such wedges beyond the legal boundaries of a city, of course, brings a variety of land uses into the suburban fringe. See Hoyt, Homer, The Structure and Growth of Residential Neighborhoods in American Cities (Washington, 1939).Google Scholar
7 Kramer, John, North American Suburbs (Berkeley, Calif., 1972), xi-xxi Google Scholar; Wirt, Frederick, et al., On the City’s Rim: Politics and Policy in Suburbia (Lexington, Mass., 1972), 25-48 Google Scholar; Clark, S.D., The Suburban Society (Toronto, 1966), 12-14 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Haar, Charles, ed., The President’s Task Force on Suburban Problems: Final Report (Cambridge, Mass., 1974), 2, 27-41 Google Scholar; Hadden, Jeffrey and Massotti, Louis, The Urbanization of the Suburbs (Beverly Hills, Calif., 1973), 17.Google Scholar
8 Quinn, Michael, “Dispersing the Urban Core: Recent Studies on the City in Suburbia,” Urban Affairs Quarterly, 11 (June 1976), 545-54 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Schwartz, Barry, “Images of Suburbia: Some Revisionist Commentary and Conclusions,” in Schwartz, Barry, ed., The Changing Face of the Suburbs (Chicago, 1976), 325-39.Google Scholar
10 Pinkerton, James R., “City-Suburban Residential Patterns by Social Class: A Review of the Literature,” Urban Affairs Quarterly, 4 (June 1969), 500-502 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Schnore, Leo, “The Socioeconomic Status of Cities and Suburbs,” American Sociological Review, 28 (February 1963), 76-85 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Schnore, Class and Race, 17-20.
12 Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Metropolitan Social and Economic Disparities: Implications for Intergovernmental Relations in Central Cities and Suburbs, Report A-25 (Washington, 1965), 11-12, 22.Google Scholar
14 Schnore, Leo and Winsborough, Hal, “Functional Classification and the Residential Location of Social Classes,” in Berry, Brian J. L., ed., City Classification Handbook (New York, 1972), 124-51.Google Scholar
15 Norval D. Glenn, “Suburbanization in the United States since World War II,” in Hadden and Massotti, Urbanization of the Suburbs, 66-70, 75; Reynolds Farley, “Components of Suburban Population Growth,” in Schwartz, Changing Face, 16-21; Pinkerton, “City-Suburban Residential Patterns,” 504-05, 510-11; Schnore, Class and Race, 70-91.
16 Schnore, Leo, “Problems in the Quantitative Study of History,” in Dyos, H. J., ed., The Study of Urban History (London, 1969), 204-06 Google Scholar; Schnore, Class and Race, 48-54, 69, 94; Farley, “Components,” 36.
17 The data are taken from the United States, Bureau of the Census, 16th Census of the United States: 1940, Statistics for Census Tracts: Denver, Colorado, Tables 1 and 3; 17th Census of the United States: 1950, Census Tract Statistics: Denver, Colorado, Tables 1, 2, and 6; 18th Census of the United States: 1960, Census Tracts: Denver, Colorado, Tables P-1, P-2, and P-4; 19th Census of the United States: 1970, Census Tracts: Denver, Colorado, Tables P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, and H-2.
18 Schnore, Leo and Pinkerton, James, “Residential Redistribution of Socioeconomic Strata in Metropolitan Areas,” Demography, 3 (1966), 496-97 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Schnore, Leo, “Measuring City-Suburban Status Differences,” Urban Affairs Quarterly, 3 (September 1967), 107-108 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Schnore, “Urban Structure,” 172.
19 Ratios of unrelated individuals to families in each county in 1970 were as follows: Adams, .212; Arapahoe, .239; Boulder, .689; Denver, .653; Jefferson, .200.
20 Denver Community Renewal Program, A Strategy for Community Renewal (1973), 24-25; Egan, Frank J., “Geography of Urban Crime: A Study of Severe Crime in Denver, 1970” (M.A. thesis, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, 1972), 62.Google Scholar
21 Denver Unity Council, The Spanish-Speaking Population of Denver: Housing, Employment, Health, Recreation, Education (Denver, 1946), 4-6 Google Scholar; Denver Area Welfare Council, The Spanish-American Population of Denver (Denver, 1950), 10, 15 Google Scholar; Housing in Denver, University of Denver Reports, 17:1 (1941), 16.
23 Housing in Denver, 5, 11. The area so defined is also contained within the Denver poverty area described in Reuben Zubrow, et al., Poverty and Jobs in Denver (1969), 10, and within the blighted area defined by the Denver Community Renewal Program, Strategy for Community Renewal, 38.
24 It is important to describe more fully how Table 4 and Table 5 were constructed and to examine their limitations. First, the tables display the medians of census tract values and therefore aggregate values of groups rather than of individuals. The propriety of drawing inferences from characteristics or behavior measured at the group or ecological level to the characteristics or behavior of individuals has concerned social scientists for twenty-five years, and the present study makes no attempt to specify the precise linkage relationships. Moreover, all tracts are weighted equally in taking the median values for each zone, although their populations in 1970 varied from 114 to 12,484. Tracts with 1970 populations of less than 100 were omitted from the computations. Second, the census withholds information on the socioeconomic variables for small tracts in order to preserve the anonymity of individuals. Such cases were treated as missing values rather than zero and omitted from the calculation of that particular median. Third, the four zones were defined in terms of 1970 census tract boundaries. In some cases, a single 1960 tract was broken into two or more tracts which fell into different zones in 1970. When this problem arose, the indicator values for the single 1960 tract were counted in the computation of 1960 medians for both zones in which its segments were found in 1970. Fourth, changes of census tract boundaries within Denver mean that Zone 1 for 1940 and Zone 1 for 1950 cover slightly different territories. Fifth, the income ratio in 1950 (Table 5) was computed using an individual level median calculated from Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, and Jefferson County data only.
25 Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Social and Economic Disparities, 29.
26 Denver Regional Council of Governments, The Changing Region: A Report on Population Change in the Seventies (1976), 11.
27 Smith concluded that “the data have to be taken as confirming Schnore’s broadest findings. They also indicate that … there are circumstances when simple inside-outside descriptions of differentiation will hide a more complexly differentiated reality.” Smith, Joel, “Another Look at Socioeconomic Status Distributions in Urbanized Areas,” Urban Affairs Quarterly, 5 (June 1970), 449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
28 Schnore, Leo, “History and the Social Sciences: An Uneasy Marriage,” Journal of Urban History, 1 (August 1975), 405 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Olson, Ruth A. and Guest, Avery M., “Migration and City-Suburb Status Differences,” Urban Affairs Quarterly, 12 (June 1977), 530 Google Scholar; Farley, “Suburban Population Growth,” 19; Glenn, “Suburbanization in the United States,” 70.
29 Olson and Guest, “City-Suburb Status Differences,” 531.
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