Inner city

From Academic Kids

For the pop band, see Inner City.

The term inner-city is often applied to the poorer parts at the centre of a major city. In the United States and United Kingdom, the term "inner city" is sometimes used with the connotation of being an area, perhaps a ghetto, where people are less educated and wealthy and where there is more crime. These connotations are less common in other Western countries, where deprived areas may be located in outlying parts of cities. In fact, with the gentrification of some formerly run-down central city areas a reverse connotation can apply - in Australia the term "outer suburban" applied to a person implies a lack of sophistication. For instance, in Paris the inner city is the richest part of the metropolitan area, where housing is the most expensive, and where elites and high-income individuals dwell.

The United States has had what has been described as a culture of "anti-urbanism" that may date back to the early days of the Union, as Thomas Jefferson wrote that "The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body." On the businessmen who brought manufacturing industry into cities and hence increased the population density necessary to supply the workforce, he wrote that "the manufactures of the great cities ... have begotten a depravity of morals, a dependence and corruption, which renders them an undesirable accession to a country whose morals are sound." Modern anti-urban attitudes are to be found in America in the form of a planning profession that continues to develop land on a low-density suburban basis, where access to amenities, work and shopping is provided almost exclusively by car rather than on foot.

Some feel that contemporary anti-urban attitudes may be linked to racism. In the United States, large numbers of African Americans migrated from the rural South to the industrial cities of the North during the 20th century, in what became known as the Great Migration. Meanwhile, the development of interstate highways allowed for easy access to suburban areas, helping to spur white flight to suburban areas. By the late 20th century, many large American cities were largely black or Hispanic, while suburban areas were often heavily white. Patterns of white flight have also taken place in parts of large British cities as immigrants from South Asia, the Caribbean and elsewhere have moved in.

There is, nevertheless, a growing movement in North America called "New Urbanism" that calls for a return to traditional city planning methods where mixed-use zoning allows people to walk from one type of land-use to another. The idea is that housing, shopping, office space, and leisure facilities are all provided within walking distance of each other, thus reducing the demand for road-space and also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of mass transit. Much of this is covered in the weekly reports of Inner City Press (, which uses the South Bronx ( as its example and laboratory.


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