Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An essay on urban sprawl

This is an essay by Iris Lin for a writing task in the NorthStar Building Skills for the TOEFL iBT Advanced

            Urban sprawl is the growth of cities in an unplanned manner. U.S. cities and towns are experiencing urban sprawl, leading to the rise of anti-sprawl movements such as New Urbanism. Urban sprawl has some negative and positive effects. In the passage, we learn about how New Urbanism principles can help solve the problems of urban sprawl.

            Urban sprawl problems include four parts. First, suburban cities grow outward and use land that should be left to nature. Second, single-family homes cause sprawl. Third, there are traffic jams between suburbs and cities. Fourth, there is lack of social interaction. For instance, in the 1990s, L.A., Atlanta, and Houston experienced urban sprawl. It is very harmful, and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club call sprawl “irresponsible,” a “cancer,” a “virus,” and misuse of the land.

            On the other hand, the principles of New Urbanism can solve the problems and cities are built that don’t harm the environment, don’t cut down trees, don’t pollute the water, while protecting animal habitats. Second, New Urbanism builds single- and multi-family residences. Third, New Urbanism develops transportation systems by region. It provides housing and jobs, creates neighborhoods where people can walk to stores, public transportation and parks. Fourth, New Urbanism increases social interaction.

            In Celebration, Florida, New Urbanism principles are featured for environmental preservation. A case in point, it provides nature areas, offices use energy-efficient cooling, electric systems and materials. Also one of Celebration’s features is multi-family residences. In addition, instead of traffic jams, New Urbanism develops “traffic calming” with narrow streets, slower speed limits and a central downtown district. We learn that Celebration also features compact districts which encourage foot travel and social interaction as houses are built close together.

-- Iris is a licensed clinical and counseling psychologist from Taiwan, where she used to lecture in college. She recently moved to New York to join her husband and is currently working on improving her English in order to work in her field in the future. We wish her the best.   

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