The Washington Post has discovered something that is old news to critics of sprawl critics:
- What you knew about sprawl turns out to be wrong.
The urbanized area in and around Los Angeles has become the most densely populated place in the continental United States, according to the Census Bureau. Its density is 25 percent higher than that of New York, twice that of Washington and four times that of Atlanta, as measured by residents per square mile of urban land.
And Los Angeles grows more crowded every year, adding residents faster than it adds land, while most metropolitan areas in the Northeast, Midwest and South march in the opposite direction. They are the sprawling ones, dense in the center but devouring land at their edges much faster than they add people.
Odd as it may seem, density is the rule, not an exception, in the wide-open spaces of the West. Salt Lake City is more tightly packed than Philadelphia. So is Las Vegas in comparison with Chicago, and Denver compared with Detroit. Ten of the country's 15 most densely populated metro areas are in the West, where residents move to newly developed land at triple the per-acre density of any other part of the country.
There are other things that don't jibe with LA's reputation as Sprawl Capital USA ...
Nothing but freeways? Among large urban areas, LA is at the bottom of the list when it comes to per capita freeway lane miles.
No transit? LA is home to over 400 miles of commuter rail, our nation's second largest system.
Hell, LA's even been doing what warms the hearts of smart growthers everywhere–sticking it to Wal-Mart.