Sunday, October 17, 2010

What is a neighborhood? Anthony Dows' answer

"Neighborhood" is a fundamental notion in the contemporary urban studies and design. But it is usually hard to give a definition of it. It is one of those terms that almost every one knows what it is, but there is no common definition for it that includes broad acceptance. Anthony Dows gives a view of what the definition of a neighborhood can be (in Neighborhoods and Urban Development, 1981):
The National Commission on Neighborhoods gives a definition that is similarly used in some countries: "Neighborhood is what the inhabitants think it is". Dows introduces three concepts in neighborhood studies: "immediate neighborhood", "institution-oriented neighborhood", and "regional neighborhood". He gives a simple definition for the immediate neighborhood: "small cluster of houses right around one's own house".
As he writes: "The homogeneous neighborhood is the area up to where the market value of housing changes or where the market value of housing noticeably changes or where the mix of housing types or values changes". Dows notes that where the residents share common relationships with a local institution is an institution-oriented neighborhood. This local institute can be and elementary school, a church, a police precinct, or a political ward. 
An example of regional neighborhood is South Side in Milwaukee. That is a part of city, suburb, or township.  

Our suburbs can be transformed into true communities

South Side, Milwaukee: an example of regional neighborhood

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