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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Landscape and Ambience on the Urban Fringe: From Agricultural to Imagined Countryside

Joseph Goddard

Environment and History 15 (2009): 413-439. doi: 10.3197/096734009X12532652871956

This article stems from ongoing research on the creation of penurbia since 1945 which examines the development of hybrid city-country landscapes around large urban areas that mesh stylised countryside with functional links to the cities. Simply put, penurbia looks like country but often thinks like the city, and gives a name and an explanation for a concept that had previously been neglected. The term amalgamates the solar metropolis' penumbra as an area of influence and visual awareness without defined focus.

The urban fringe has grown dramatically since 1945, as emigrants from urban areas hoped that life in the country would provide a haven against the rush and thrust of life in the city. Ill-formed and dimly understood cultural ideals fuelled flight to rural areas where individuality, nature, familiarity, purity, hope and tradition would trump practical and economic considerations. This paper relates the story of the development of distinct penurban landscapes and ambiences in three eastern U.S. counties.

KEYWORDS: Urban-rural fringe, urbanisation, suburbanisation, hobby farming, viticulture, horse/equine industry

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