, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 1159–1172 | Cite as

Turning cities inside out: transportation and the resurgence of downtowns in North America

  • Martin WachsEmail author


North American urban areas have changed dramatically over the last four decades. While downtowns were thought to be in long-term decline 40 years ago, central business districts are today the most vibrant residential and commercial centers throughout a largely suburban continent. This paper examines the role of transportation technology and policy in the earlier decline and recent revival of American downtowns and examines challenges to the continuation of urban regeneration. Major recent investments in physical improvements in central cities have been complemented by a dramatic shift in the locus of logistical and goods processing activities from city centers to outlying areas. While many tout the energy efficiency and environmental benefits of walkable and denser inner cities, a more complete accounting of their impacts also requires analysis of increasing urban congestion and the steady rise in urban goods movement in support of the new development patterns.


Land use Urban form Policy North America Freight 



I gratefully acknowledge the comments and suggestions made on early drafts of this paper by Kelcie Ralph, Martin Richards, Donald Shoup, Brian D. Taylor, Carole Turley, and Helen Wachs. Their insights have greatly informed my thinking and clarified my writing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rand CooperationSanta MonicaUSA

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