Exploring the Effects of Urban Sprawl on Low-Income Neighborhoods in Birmingham, AL

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University of Alabama Libraries

Urban sprawl has led to poorly planned cities that spread out over large distances of land, creating unequal distribution of resources and blocking access to opportunities for low-income residents who remain in the central city (Squires, 2002) . While sprawl does provide the opportunity to live a quiet life outside of the city, the lasting impacts of sprawl are beginning to be seen in inner city communities. Two of these communities are Birmingham, Alabama’s North and East neighborhoods. This study explores the possible causes of Birmingham’s sprawl and residents' opinions of how urban sprawl impacts them socially, economically, and environmentally. Using geographic information system (GIS) technology and a comparison case study approach, it analyzes Birmingham’s history and census tracts within the North and East neighborhoods in order to: determine if low-income households are increasing in fringe suburbs while simultaneously decreasing in the inner city; ascertain whether or not being in close proximity to an economic hub has any effect on household income; establish if property values are an indicator of upward mobility for communities; and confirm the historical causes of the city’s sprawl. In doing so the research was able to determine how residents in North and East Birmingham perceive the potential effects of sprawl. Similar methodology can be applied to other mid-sized American cities hoping to gain more insight into how sprawl affects their citizens.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Community Planning, GIS, Low-income, Urban Planning, Urban Sprawl