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Compact, Dispersed, Fragmented, Extensive? A Comparison of Urban Growth in Twenty-five Global Cities using Remotely Sensed Data, Pattern Metrics and Census Information

Annemarie Schneider and Curtis E. Woodcock
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Annemarie Schneider: Department of Geography and Institute for Computational Earth System Science, University of California-Santa Barbara, Ellison Hall 5703, Santa Barbara, California 93106-4060, USA. E-mai:
Curtis E. Woodcock: Department of Geography and Centre for Remote Sensing, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA. E-mail:

Urban Studies, 2008, vol. 45, issue 3, 659-692

Abstract: Despite growing recognition of the important role of cities in economic, political and environmental systems across the world, comparative, global-scale research on cities is severely limited. This paper examines the similarities and differences in urban form and growth that have occurred across 25 mid-sized cities from different geographical settings and levels of economic development. The results reveal four city types: low-growth cities with modest rates of infilling; high-growth cities with rapid, fragmented development; expansive-growth cities with extensive dispersion at low population densities; and frantic-growth cities with extraordinary land conversion rates at high population densities. Although all 25 cities are expanding, the results suggest that cities outside the US do not exhibit the dispersed spatial forms characteristic of American urban sprawl.

Date: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:45:y:2008:i:3:p:659-692