Neighborhoods and Livability

Emily Talen's book Neighborhoods begins by stating that “neighborhoods should be genuinely relevant in our lives—not as casual descriptors of geographic location but as places that provide an essential context for daily life. Such neighborhoods would be identifiable, serviced, diverse, and connected”.

 

Midland has a diverse set of neighborhoods; from newer more suburban-style neighborhoods to more traditional urban-style neighborhoods. How one might choose a neighborhood in Midland to live may depend on a lot of things such as: 

  • Housing (cost, style, character, size)

  • Proximity to friends or relatives

  • Proximity to employment or education

  • Access to parks and other amenities

  • Level of car dependency (can I walk to some places?)

All of these factors often fall into something called "livability".  Cities and their neighborhoods achieve varying levels of livability. And livability can be broken down into six social functions of a city and its neighborhoods. Those functions are listed below.

                                    Living                                                Working                                          Supplying

 

                               Caring                                           Learning                                     Enjoying

The Midland City Modern Master Plan seeks to improve the neighborhoods of Midland into the future by focusing on incremental change that boosts livability in these six social function areas. 

 

Historical Development Patterns in Midland

Critical to this work is understanding the way Midland has been built and developed since it was founded in 1887.  Early in its history, Midland was built to be accessible on foot or via horse and buggy.  Beginning in the 1930s and 1940s, the private automobile substantially changed the course of how the city developed.  Since then, new development has been required to provide access by the automobile, creating a sprawling built environment that has resulted in neighborhoods, business districts, and industrial areas being spread out far from one another.  

Resident preference, coupled with City zoning regulations and federal housing and financial policies, has also driven the style and pattern of new development.  Central to this has been the high demand for owner-occupied, single-family homes as this housing type became a preferred choice of housing since the end of World War II. 

 

Euclidean zoning, which segregates uses, has been the prevalent zoning code in Midland since the 1920s.  This style of development regulation has left a huge mark on the city resulting in few mixed-use districts and many areas of the city dedicated to single-land uses only.  These single-land use areas are vulnerable to changes in the private market as shifting trends can quickly change once lively districts into underutilized areas (think recent changes to suburban shopping malls and big-box retail stores).   

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