NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Reconstruction of the American Urban Landscape in the Twentieth Century

Sukkoo Kim

NBER Working Paper No. 8857
Issued in March 2002
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy

One of the most important representations of an urban spatial structure is its density. Indeed, an urban area is defined as a densely populated place with a sizeable number of inhabitants. Yet, despite the fact that the defining element of an urban area is its density, few scholars have systematically examined the long-run changes in the densities of economic activities in these areas. This paper documents the historical changes in population and employment densities in U.S. cities and metropolitan areas and explores the causes of their rise and decline between the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8857

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