31 March 2011

Airport Cities

(O'hare International interior photo from Fact Monster at http://www.factmonster.com/us/history/ohare-international-airport.htmll airport photo by Carol M. Highsmith)

In a recent issue of Time Magazine (17 March 2011), Pico Iyer , the author of the book The Global Soul which is about airports and movement, claims that airports will become the primary focus/node of cities. He states,” The days when we built our airports around cities now seem distant; in the new, mobile century, we build our cities around airports.” While this seems novel to Mr. Iyer, it is not. Transportation nodes have always been the center for cities: key junctures along land routes, ports, river terminals, highway junctions and railroad stations. I am familiar with this topic as my dissertation concerned the land use impacts of airports. Based on my dissertation and other more recent research about cities and globalization, I would like to clarify that an airport’s influence as a nodal attractor for land use within any urban area is based on the importance of the airport in the international and domestic airline network, the status of the city in the global economic system and its place in an increasingly competitive set of other urban nodes. Therefore, this 'Buck Rogers-inspired new city' as presented by Iyer in his article only applies to a few major airport and perhaps would have been more suitable for Popular Mechanics. Also, that airports will become places where many people in an urban area would want to revolve all aspects of their lives is a fantasy, even for those in major metropolitan areas in the world. Ask yourself... do you want to live in an airport?

To read the online version of Mr. Iyers’s article go to: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2059521_2059701_2059696,00.html

A pdf version of my unpublished dissertation, The Land Use Impact of an Airport and Urban Structure: A Case Study in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, can be viewed by going to this link: