Compactness versus Sprawl: A Review of Recent Evidence from the United States

Reid Ewing, Shima Hamidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


In 1997, the Journal of the American Planning Association published a pair of point–counterpoint articles now listed by the American Planning Association as “classics” in the urban planning literature. In the first article, “Are Compact Cities Desirable?” Gordon and Richardson argued in favor of urban sprawl as a benign response to consumer preferences. In the counterpoint article, “Is Los Angeles-Style Sprawl Desirable?” Ewing argued for compact cities as an alternative to sprawl. It is time to reprise the debate. This article summarizes the literature on urban sprawl characteristics and measurements, causes, impacts, and remedies since the original debate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-432
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Planning Literature
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • community development
  • growth management
  • health
  • land use
  • neighborhood planning
  • quality of life
  • sustainability
  • transportation
  • urban form

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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