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September 30, 2010 Permalink

Human landscapes in SW Florida

A couple weeks ago, I was listening to a story by NPR's Planet Money team about "Toxie" a toxic asset they had purchased to follow and help tell the story of the recent financial meltdown. One of the mortgages in Toxie was on a home bought for investment in Bradenton, Florida, and the team took a look at housing in the area. Many homes there are empty and have been for years. Huge developments sit partially completed among densely built up neighborhoods and swampland. A guest stated that there were "enough housing lots in Charlotte County to last for more than 100 years". Boom and bust residential development has drastically affected parts of southwest Florida for decades now, and I spent some time (with the help of Google Earth), looking around the area. With permission from the fine folks at Google, here are a few glimpses at development in southwest Florida. (26 photos total)

A section of a partially built residential project with only two houses in place, near Fort Myers, Florida. Map. (© Google)
more photos
This page lists only comments and the first photo for the entry.
To see the entire entry, with all photographs, click here.

378 comments so far...

FANTASTIC wawwwwwwwwww !

Posted by Agharass September 30, 10 12:45 PM

Nice job done by a satellite!

Posted by JK September 30, 10 12:45 PM

These remind me of scenes from the documentary "Koyanisqaatsi"!

Posted by Nina September 30, 10 12:49 PM

Just stunning. Amazing how so many of these developments look like a tightly packed circuit board.

Also interesting to think about the future viability of these sprawling, suburban communities. Are they sustainable?

Posted by @mattraygun September 30, 10 12:51 PM

cool ^^

Posted by mghazli September 30, 10 12:51 PM

Why so many canals?

Posted by Frank Ch. Eigler September 30, 10 12:53 PM

The eeriest set I've seen in a while.

Posted by mackay September 30, 10 12:53 PM

#2,haha,amazing.i can see my house from that.

Posted by lance September 30, 10 12:54 PM

I'm SO glad I live where there's some actual space between the houses. I don't think I could stand to live packed like sardines in these developments.

Posted by Drew September 30, 10 12:55 PM

Oddly mesmerizing, actually.

Posted by Carson September 30, 10 12:56 PM

These photos remind me of Sun City, AZ. It was weird to drive to the center of this circle to get to a Budget truck rental.

Posted by Mitchell September 30, 10 01:00 PM

Horrifying. No one living in such a place will ever be able to walk to the grocery store, bike to a cafe, or take the bus to work. There's nothing near anything else. It's an unlivable wasteland.

Posted by Leo September 30, 10 01:01 PM

This totally blew my mind. Thanks for doing this. What a great and unique way of looking at this.

Posted by Jim Randolph September 30, 10 01:01 PM

Looks like a great place to street race :)

Posted by aet08 September 30, 10 01:02 PM

Nice Pictures.
Human beings are reigning the world

Posted by Abhijit September 30, 10 01:03 PM

You cannot build into the water (like picture #25) and then complain if a hurricane blows off your house...

Posted by Miguel September 30, 10 01:06 PM

Sad. Terribly sad.

Posted by Matt September 30, 10 01:06 PM

These are really great satellite images showing what the overall plans must look like to the developer. Thanks for posting

Posted by Chad Ethridge September 30, 10 01:06 PM

these are cool, spooky, and some just downright depressing. But very visually interesting. Thanks!

Posted by lauren September 30, 10 01:07 PM

Diseño urbanistico

Posted by September 30, 10 01:12 PM

I am SOOO thankful to live in northern Michigan..Housing in these pics is way too close and was astonishing to view..

Posted by rose September 30, 10 01:14 PM

nice pictures, nice !
but... what a stupid destruction of nature... for an ageing population...

Posted by arnaldo pascoli September 30, 10 01:16 PM

Almost disgusting.

Posted by Frederik September 30, 10 01:18 PM


Posted by Peter Pang September 30, 10 01:21 PM

Very depressing: extreme land misuse, kids growing in isolation, people depending on cars for _everything_.
Urbanism and city planning are pending subjects.

Posted by Juan Pechiar September 30, 10 01:22 PM

These areas all look like they'll have great potential for scuba diving by future tourists and salvagers when the houses are all underwater as the sea rises ten or 15 feet over the next 50 years! Glug, glug, glug... >;-)

Posted by Chuck Brookhouse September 30, 10 01:23 PM

Some great and interesting pictures... !

Posted by André Weigel September 30, 10 01:24 PM

I live in Florida and it’s true what Leo said—you can’t walk anywhere, only drive, and I hate it. It truly is a wasteland.

Posted by David Boni September 30, 10 01:27 PM

This reminds me of Weeds

Posted by Sebastián September 30, 10 01:28 PM

You have a bunch of idiots making comments!

Posted by Frank September 30, 10 01:29 PM


Posted by Pam Phillips September 30, 10 01:32 PM

One of these "ghost" developments was about 30 minutes away from my home in Florida. The streets were laid out nicely, and there were street signs at each corner -- but only two houses in the entire subdivision. Old realtor signs dangled here and there.

This area was used, however! There were great sand dunes here and there between the streets, and dirt bikes and ATVs just loved this. Additionally, certain sections were used as shooting ranges. Other people had campouts and bonfires . And from time to time, the sheriffs department would do intense night training out there.

My family simply called it, "The Place." I miss it.

(View the area on Google Maps:,+florida&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Poinciana,+Osceola,+Florida&gl=us&ei=wMikTNXGAcH6lwfyhOCoDA&ved=0CBkQ8gEwAA&ll=28.053102,-81.493385&spn=0.012915,0.019076&t=h&z=16)

Posted by Bonni September 30, 10 01:34 PM

Looks like Simcity.

Posted by Anonymous September 30, 10 01:38 PM

No 9 looks like a printed circuit board.

Posted by chris September 30, 10 01:39 PM

I just love these types of neighborhoods. Too bad that they are not too popular in Europe.

Posted by Sergiu September 30, 10 01:42 PM

nice pictures...
but these houses for living....NOT..!

Posted by Tadej September 30, 10 01:44 PM

Little boxes... lalalala... ^^

Posted by C.C. Chrispic September 30, 10 01:44 PM

Awesome, one of my favorite sets! Ugh, why so close together? Some of the houses in #2 look like a healthy person could barely squeeze between them. Also I am wondering why the completely empty cul-de-sacs from the 1960s are still mowed and maintained? It seems like if left to themselves they'd just turn back into woods after 10 years or so, at least they would here in New England :-)

Posted by Glen September 30, 10 01:44 PM

Wow, impressive!
We don't have this in France...

Posted by Joris September 30, 10 01:45 PM

what a luck I'm living in the alps

Posted by Andy September 30, 10 01:52 PM

And its not just Lee/Charlotte County's fault - its also the fault of developers. As a native Floridian, it sickens me to see how beautiful, thriving swamps were allowed to be drained by the USACOE and local regulators, then terraformed into Palm Beach. Real Florida is alligators, mosquitoes, and snakes and pine/oak hammocks and wetlands. Real florida is NOT palm trees, St Augustine grass and bougenvilla.

Posted by Michelle September 30, 10 01:54 PM

Why so many canals? So they can charge more for "waterfront" property.

Posted by Ruth September 30, 10 01:58 PM

And WE think the ALIENS are weird ...

Posted by sc September 30, 10 02:02 PM

human is boring

Posted by Anonymous September 30, 10 02:03 PM

Madness!? THIS. IS. FLORIDA!!!!

Posted by anon September 30, 10 02:05 PM

canals, because the land is either swampy or slightly below sea level. the canals/man made lakes or as we call them in north florida, retention ponds, keep the water drained off the properties people live on..

Posted by laura September 30, 10 02:06 PM

I am surprised that these didn't show up here:,-73.96625&sspn=0.630654,0.951691&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Key+West,+Monroe,+Florida&ll=24.593412,-81.706814&spn=0.011833,0.01487&t=h&z=17

It's remnants of man-made U-boat parking slots that were used during the cold war to harbor U-boats in close proximity to Cuba during the missile crisis. I once took a jet ski through these channels, insane the effort that was put into cutting into rock. Worth visiting!

Posted by Vlad Dusil September 30, 10 02:08 PM

I find it interesting that there are so many roads developed with no houses on them. In Kentucky, we would break those up in sections. Build a section of road, fill it with houses then move to the next section of road. Seems like they wasted money developing land for it to just sit vacant.

Posted by Jim September 30, 10 02:08 PM

The Age of Stupid

Posted by ma54 September 30, 10 02:15 PM


"I live in the 27th brown McMansion on the right."
"Which one?"
"The one with the fake snowman and Christmas tree in the lawn."

Posted by Frenetix September 30, 10 02:17 PM

Beautifull photos, but I'm affraid...

Posted by GlobalCut September 30, 10 02:21 PM

Just being pedantic, but the plural of cul-de-sac is culs-de-sac.

Posted by Shallow and Pedantic September 30, 10 02:28 PM

That`s mean topography and land survey.

Posted by Anonymous September 30, 10 02:29 PM

Fantastic collection, TBP has done it again! This clearly shows a building industry that fed at the trough too long feasting on gullible people who got suckered into crappy dishonest interest-only mortgages. These photos make me wonder how many of these homes are now in foreclosure...and how many of these builders are now in Chapter 7 or 11 because they were greedy and overbuilt.

Posted by Dan September 30, 10 02:31 PM

So the ONLY way human beings should live is stacked up in tiny apartments in over-crowded neighborhoods, enduring the rampant crime and pollution? If that's civilization, no thanks.

And for that matter, these houses so close together don't thrill me either. They're all homogenous, over-priced and probably poorly constructed.

Guess I'll stick to my 3-bedroom ranch house on a half acre plot in a farming community.

Posted by Jody September 30, 10 02:32 PM

#11 blows my mind. How could you even hope to get OUT of that mess to go anywhere?

Posted by Wang September 30, 10 02:41 PM

Way too dense for my liking! Who would want to live so close to their neighbors like that?

Posted by Mike September 30, 10 02:50 PM

Amazing view of pictures. Supports the view of human"kind" as a macrovirus.

When the book is written about those responsible for the destruction of the sustainable natural environment on planet earth, developers will have a prominent place in it, as will bankers, politicians, anyone opposing birth control, etc. etc.

Posted by Richard September 30, 10 02:50 PM

Little too far south, I actually live near Bradenton. Would've been interesting to see what you came up with for around here.

Posted by Sean September 30, 10 03:02 PM

Unless you believe the Earth is 4000 years old, then you believe that God has waited 13 billion years for a species to evolve to the point where individuals must accept Jesus as their Savior or face the eternal lake of fire. These photos let us see ourselves as God does. And surely he must be thinking, "Why bother with a lake of fire? They've already got Florida."

Posted by Jeremy September 30, 10 03:08 PM

Gives new vision of the term "gridlock" scary

Posted by Maureen ledwell September 30, 10 03:15 PM

There are so many canals because it's all swamp land. There is a building requirement that any structure or development must provide for drainage. It's also why there are so many artificial lakes.

I lived south of picture #24 :D

Posted by nate September 30, 10 03:18 PM

Gross. It's the worst of both worlds, urban and suburban. At least in a real city amenities (parks, cafes, shops, commercial areas, etc) are usually within walking distance and in real suburbs, there's space to breathe (with amenities nearby in many cases). This has none of that. Once you're home, you're basically trapped. It is poor development run amok. No wonder so many people in South Florida are so fat.

Posted by Mr. Goodmorning September 30, 10 03:19 PM

This is why I'm no longer an Urban Planner. Money controls, not rationality.

Posted by Shawn September 30, 10 03:26 PM

Great photos, TY, Love the artistry of architecture from above. comment 61...

1, your 1st statement contradicts itself so much it gave me a headache contemplating your stupidity.

2, Why would you supposed head mythical being ( ie god) punish people for making the best of a crowded situation. These photos show the way we deal with the need for housing, from the simple gridwork, to the lakes and canals lining peoples backyards.

3, Does not your religion say "go forth and multiply"? photos are your future, your pope has tried to ban contraception. So these photos, that you interpret as extreme overcrowding, ie hell on earth, represent your desired future. You support more and more people, well, they need to live somewhere.

Posted by humanbeing September 30, 10 03:37 PM

Truly horrifying yet visually fascinating. You could not pay me to live in one of those! I love my little island village where I can walk or bike anywhere.

Posted by Phoebe September 30, 10 03:48 PM


Posted by Patrick September 30, 10 03:49 PM

I used to deliver pizza and just the thought of trying to find an address in one of those developments at night gives me the cold sweats.

Posted by Chris September 30, 10 03:53 PM

I threw up into my mouth a little bit when viewing these images. This isn't achievement; this is an abomination.

Posted by Jimbo September 30, 10 03:57 PM

So many homes, so little community . .

Posted by Nate September 30, 10 04:02 PM

@#56 You want to know what're real "stacked up tiny apartments in over-crowded neighborhoods"? Come to any Chinese cities.

Posted by ybfelix September 30, 10 04:14 PM

"Welcome home! Your house is the 23rd building from the left in the 7th row. ... No, not that one. The one next to it."

Posted by Peter September 30, 10 04:19 PM

@65: Me too. If money controls, stupidity follows. Looks like a totally boring place. But I'm sure the people are alright.
Interesting to see what the place will look like, if the gasoline price doubles.


Posted by peter September 30, 10 04:29 PM

Hey, i see my back yard!
Its really that that bad...well yes it is:

these are my photos, a number of which are from the area

Posted by Char September 30, 10 04:36 PM

Even if you could walk to shopping or to a park, no one in their right mind would, except for the two weeks in February when the weather allows for such activities.

Posted by david September 30, 10 04:41 PM

Zombie gestation farms...ready for infection!

Posted by Jenny September 30, 10 04:53 PM

These images are just the tip of the Florida Iceberg. Similar areas are everywhere in my home state. People move here where the average unemployment is 20% yet if there are no shopping centers, gas stations, grocery stores or gyms they build them too. All those empty lots are not just homes. So many canals one person asks --- all that land was necessary for our environment (swamps) just so few years ago.

Posted by Florida Conch September 30, 10 05:11 PM

Ah, single track housing. I thought we were beyond this, what happened to smart growth policies and new urbanizm?

Posted by STrimmer September 30, 10 05:28 PM

I had NOOO idea! That's crazy!

Posted by Scott Murdoch September 30, 10 05:31 PM

The first three are right around where I grew up, so I've been through all of those neighborhoods. In the third pic my parents own a house and my best friends I grew up with rent from them. It's kind of funny I know/have been to over half of these pics. My dad used to work construction so he built many of these homes as well.
Good job!

Posted by The Klepto September 30, 10 05:54 PM

Working at the Florida DOT we have all the historical imagery going back to 1950 for these areas. It is interesting to look at the stark contrasts between densely packed sprawl and when it used to be rural farm lands. Out of control.

Posted by Ben September 30, 10 05:55 PM

Cars Cars Cars.. :(

Posted by Samuel I. September 30, 10 06:24 PM

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.

There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Posted by kesava September 30, 10 06:27 PM
Posted by chris September 30, 10 06:39 PM

You cant tell me people dont walk into the wrong house by accident once in a while. Can you say cookie cutter!

Posted by Anonymous September 30, 10 06:54 PM

It's the developer's faults for building so close, and municipal mismanagement for allowing it. Very sad.

Great original work though on the post.

Posted by tylerv September 30, 10 07:12 PM


Posted by Andres September 30, 10 07:15 PM

Fantastica collezione ...

Posted by Nico September 30, 10 07:22 PM

Think these are interesting? Take a look at Barcelona on google earth... very parculiar.

Posted by Trent September 30, 10 07:33 PM

I'm struck by the resemblance of all the aerial photos to circuit boards. Amazing. Love comment 83 too..."Little boxes"...indeed.

Posted by Jon E September 30, 10 07:39 PM

Seeing things like this make me sad. American's have to have it all and consume as much as they can.

Posted by whitney September 30, 10 08:20 PM

All I can think of when I see this is the song, Subdivisions, by the rock band Rush. Scary kiddies. Very scary.

Posted by Cameron September 30, 10 08:36 PM

and I thought northwest florida was bad....

Posted by notlikinflorida September 30, 10 08:39 PM

Horrifying. Many of these developments will be under water in 50 years. The rest will be abandoned.

Posted by SH September 30, 10 08:44 PM

Defining Humanity - reminds me of the Nazca lines of Peru.

Posted by eee c September 30, 10 08:56 PM

Very serene pictures of hell.

Posted by TheLaughingMan September 30, 10 09:04 PM

Vomit-inducing suburban sprawl, and an epic waste of raw materials. So many residential buildings with no commercial centers in sight. No public spaces. Nowhere interesting. Nowhere walkable. Nowhere worth caring about.

There was a time in America when cities and houses were built to (with some regular maintenance) last forever. Now you look around at these half-abandoned housing developments and the shoddily constructed big box stores and chain restaurants and wonder if they'll last even 20 years before they are deserted and left to rot. Not being made of out natural materials though they'll just sit there for hundreds of years, slowly decaying in the sun and humidity.

Just disgraceful.

Posted by JT September 30, 10 09:45 PM

# 15 ... I gonna buy the third strip from top ... :D

Posted by Pawan September 30, 10 10:16 PM

Awesome photo set.
Car-dependence looks so creepy from the sky... At least this horribly wasteful lifestyle will slowly drowned with the buildings that sustain it as sea levels rise over the coming decades. I can't believe anyone would want to live in such isolation, shackled to a private car and the costs associated with it, let alone at the mercy of a rising sea and anual hurricanes that grow stronger every year. It has been widely known for over 15 years that global warming will cause dramatic rises in sea levels worldwide within the coming decades, and yet American businesses have been allowed to expand and build these death traps... I'm from Finland, and here this would be considered GROSSLY UNETHICAL and would warrant government intervention to stop development in unsafe areas. I don't know whats more pathetic, that Americans want to rebuild below-sea-level-areas of New Orleans that they know will be flooded again, or that they want to build and live in these prison-like establishments with the same inevitable fate...

Posted by Marko Alvari September 30, 10 10:57 PM

This is amazing! No. 8 is like a mosaic art. More power to boston bigpicture.

Posted by Flushma September 30, 10 10:59 PM

Interesting that a lot of comments concern the closeness of the houses and how abhorrent the thought is. Well we must accept the fact that it is actually better for the environment to live close together and therefore preserve open space in a "natural" state. Number 20 comes closest to this as a"cluster" development. And of course proximity means more walking and less driving- think city. The problem is none of the developments pictured here represents a real city- rather it is a fantasy that with a house and a yard (no matter how tiny that yard) we are not living in a city but in an other world- not country and not city. Suburbia? Few would dare admit it.

The house and pseudo-city of half acre lots are a cruel waste of resources and do the greatest harm to the environment.
Sure these houses are close together, but they really need to be closer, and stacked upon one another so more land is saved.

Posted by Paul Sheehan September 30, 10 11:03 PM

Some of the most depressing and disgusting photos I've seen yet! (Glad they are being posted... just sad that humans can be so stupid)

Posted by bushidokop September 30, 10 11:04 PM

Something about the symmetry in these shots make the OCD part of my brain get happy :-)

Posted by Daniel September 30, 10 11:17 PM


Posted by Bird September 30, 10 11:19 PM

This is ridiculous, none of these communities are sustainable... they make us be 100% car & oil dependent... the urban planning we should be creating is one that includes walkable distances from grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, work and schools, where public transportation is reliable and where urban density is high.
This makes me sad.

Posted by vcp September 30, 10 11:34 PM

I want to play sim city

Posted by BSC September 30, 10 11:36 PM

Thanks. You have made some great art. I felt like a godamned artist looking at them.

Posted by everthus September 30, 10 11:47 PM

The insults aimed at SW FL residents are pretty misguided. Way to go pseudointellectuals of the Internet!

Posted by Somonster October 1, 10 12:34 AM

A waste of space and resources. That's what this is.
Good pictures tho.

Posted by Pablo October 1, 10 12:42 AM

One reason land was used like that in the 50's - mid 80's in Florida - Cheap Land. In the 60's you coul buy 100 acres for under $10,000 and in lots of places you could buy waterfront acres for $500 to $1000. I knew one rancher that paid $1.25 per acre in the 1950's. Compared to most of the country land is still cheap here in Florida and taxes somewhat low, one reason we have a steady stream of rich people from all over Europe building and moving here daily.

Posted by tren October 1, 10 12:48 AM

Dear world, please don't pursue the American "dream."

Posted by grubedoo October 1, 10 12:53 AM

First i was like :| then i lol'd #10

Posted by evtl October 1, 10 01:04 AM

I've been lost for hours in Rotunda West... it's like a maze.... I had to stop, and knock on somebody's door to find my way out. I felt like a mouse...
The $ hungry developers have destroyed SW FL.... notice how many of these were taken there?? I know.. I live there... fortunately not in any of these areas!

Posted by Karmadog October 1, 10 01:12 AM

Why so many canals? lol! It's Florida! Duh! Learn some geography!

Most of Florida is only a few meters above sea level. Its a giant brackish swamp! We learn that in Canada in Grade 2.

Posted by Some Guy October 1, 10 01:39 AM

I want one of the houses on #13 :)

Posted by dzsobacsi October 1, 10 02:55 AM

wao the Humain Brain!

Posted by rabia October 1, 10 03:26 AM

This set makes it so evident and clear...Florida Sucks! Totally bad urban planning.

Posted by DTron October 1, 10 03:38 AM

the first one is like a piece of art - awesome photographs

Posted by Hiller October 1, 10 03:42 AM

Why apply normative comments like "disgusting"? These are people's homes, and quite fortunate people at that. What makes the views 'mesmerizing" are the stark demarcations with the 'natural' settings. In a more urban area, the entire screen would be filled with the so-called disgusting housing, though likely older and more mixed-use.

Posted by Scott October 1, 10 03:49 AM

There is no difference between any of these pictures and an electronic chips.
You made a Great job, really.

Posted by doro October 1, 10 03:50 AM

This looks like socialism for cars.

Have a look at a more efficient development:,114.13957&spn=0.002317,0.004292&t=k&z=19

I don't wonder anymore why the US didn't sign the Kyoto Protocol. It's simply unrealistic. Once an infrastructure is built, one is trapped in them.

Posted by peter October 1, 10 03:51 AM

A real treat to see these. Abstract and very like textile patterns. Wonderful selection.

Posted by Latte Goldstein October 1, 10 03:52 AM

Damn it's nice..

Posted by Peter T October 1, 10 04:12 AM

Very nice collection of photographs. Interesting urbanistic developments, a bit to aggressive an to synthetic for my taste, but that is how the world is build, unfortunately, with $ in mind rather then comfort or sustainability.

Great job for collecting and posting photographs ... in general. I check for news daily.

Posted by m October 1, 10 04:14 AM

Destrozo de la naturaleza.

Posted by Victor October 1, 10 04:18 AM

Human's are in essence an organism. I think the Agent Smith characters from the Matrix had it spot on:

"Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area..."

Posted by The Duke October 1, 10 04:30 AM

Little Boxes... a lot of!

Posted by Me, Almighty! October 1, 10 04:44 AM

ctrl C ctrl V
thats what it lools like. copy-paste.

and if people think the space between houses is too LITTLE, they need to get their heads examined. Most of the world lives in much more tightly packed places. Only Americans, the most pampered nation on earth would think this is LESS space.

Whats going to happen when the next hurricane arrives, or when there is not gas left for their cars?

Awesome pictures anyway. so graphic.

Posted by bigpicturefan October 1, 10 04:47 AM

This is hell on earth.

Posted by Parkylondon October 1, 10 05:08 AM

#12 actually looks like a nice place to live, I can imagine kayaking around there

Posted by anon October 1, 10 05:39 AM

Stop blaming, this can have solution! Just destroy some houses and put supermarkets, make a train station, make a church (well, this is optional), make a gym (a very big one), make a library, make a hospital, make a school...

Posted by The solution October 1, 10 06:10 AM

Is there life outside Florida?

Posted by timo October 1, 10 06:11 AM

Planet where is no place for us... Why?

Posted by lilian October 1, 10 06:18 AM

Living in a country like El Salvador, where we practically are piling up on top of each other in every breathing minute of our lives, I find some of these pictures to be offensive. Such misuse of so much land...

Posted by Virginia October 1, 10 06:21 AM

Lets you know the power of the human mind. How much would the Almighty have??

Posted by MA October 1, 10 06:28 AM

Some of these shots with cul de sacs look like printed circuit boards.

Some of these dense developments look just deadly, and speak of only one value, greed. No. 7

It's great to have them all in one place to get an overview.

Google satellite map travel can be very fun. I have spent many hours traveling back to where I once was decades ago, to see some of the changes, or learn more about an area with this bird's eye view.

Posted by Bruce October 1, 10 07:34 AM

Both visually stunning and frightening. These severe alignments look more North Korean than American...

Posted by Tom October 1, 10 07:37 AM


Posted by nametso October 1, 10 08:19 AM

Re the comments 'Who want's to live that close to your neighbour?' Try living in terraced houses or appartments! If everyone had half acre of land for a house we would need multiple Earths or to support this. Think damn you!

Posted by Fox October 1, 10 08:31 AM

Gross. You need a car just to get out of your own neighbourhood? Just gross.

Posted by Annie Thomas October 1, 10 08:35 AM

Jane Jacobs warned this may be the end of human kind our ostentatious admiration of our own abuse of our home planet..

will we survive our blight of this earth?

how long will we continue to build things in flooding plains water sheds and wet lands?

how many species will we kill?

will we kill the Homo-Sapiens too?

Posted by erich nolan bertussi davies October 1, 10 08:36 AM

to paraphrase Woody Allen - "nothing wrong with Florida that a 3 meter rise in the sea level wouldn't cure..."

and the way people love their cars and air conditioners in the US - that event is being hurried along...

Posted by patrick October 1, 10 09:19 AM

Wow, that is a lot of tight nit developments. I personally like having a little bit of land.

Posted by Liz Benitez October 1, 10 09:22 AM

Csodálatos kialakítások. Kicsit sűrűnek tűnnek a telkek. Sok család elfér ilyen megoldások mellett.

Posted by Elod October 1, 10 09:35 AM

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

Posted by andy October 1, 10 09:38 AM

Your name is “John” now. Your wife is “Mary.” Your children are average. Your dog is well-behaved. Enjoy your new life here. But not too much.

Posted by Alfred October 1, 10 09:59 AM

Is this suburban sprawl we should fight or models of high-density housing proposed by ant-sprawl proponents? Certainly less sprawl than each house on an acre. More sprawl than townhouses and high rises.
I'm getting confused.

Posted by Ed C October 1, 10 10:14 AM

How we should we should build housing for the over 1 million new citizens per year in US population growth? I'd like to hear some solutions. And please don't use a 'let them eat cake' approach. People are living in these conditions because it was they felt there was their best choice.

Posted by Ed C. October 1, 10 10:17 AM

F@!* Capitalism

Posted by Geo October 1, 10 10:19 AM

i wonder why so much negative and almost idiotic comments on here? are those americans complainig that they have so much? and that commie chinese comment #122 ha ha yea right thats where people wanna live for sure! i personally live in post soviet europe and we call them rabbit-hutches (for a reason i guess) and i have seen a lot of block building projects here and thats what i would call ''disguisting'' ''not sustainable'' etc. and especially crowded. thats why i prefer much more to live in countryside here than i would do in us and a for instance where you have normal privat houses. ok some of them i see are pretty crowded but they are just some instead of all in block buildings in my country. europe is full of suburbias too allthough they have rised a bit more naturally simply buy growing around towns and cities but generally its the same. you think people were stupid at those times when they build them? sure they knew block buildings would be cheaper but living life as such would be cheaper too then. what else alternative do you propose? everyone living in old towns (which would i guess be the most natural type of ''urbia''), or countryside? i doubt it. stop whinig you have so much.

Posted by 123 October 1, 10 10:36 AM

What's stranger still is that at least in the Cape Coral shot (#11) all those streets have number names, ie. NW 27th Place, NW 27th Terrace, SW 27th Lane, etc. on, and on, and on, with no names except for the main thoroughfares. Extremely cold.

Posted by Holly Bees October 1, 10 10:46 AM

I live in Miami, and it's really the same sort of neighborhoods everywhere here, especially north in Broward, and Palm Beach counties. You should have gotten a shot of Everglades City! Craziest place ever. It's a tiny fishing town built right in the middle of the Ten Thousand Islands in SW Florida.

Posted by Kian Seara October 1, 10 11:07 AM

This is a good video that diagnoses the problems seen here and offers a possible and affordable solution for the short and long term.
The concept of 'urban' density is scary to people, but remember how 'dense' Florida's most popular destination: Disneyworld was when you visited? Or Paris for that matter? These nowheres we've managed to build (with very expensive taxpayer funded roads, sewer systems and the like) were made possible by cheap gas and cheap land. In places like New Jersey, the land is pretty much all sprawled up so we have to get smarter. It's not too late to build places we care about. Places that are beautiful and sustainable. Getting government got out of the road building business and into the place-making business would be a good start.

Posted by Troy Torrison October 1, 10 11:10 AM

SimCity and circuit boards.

Posted by Matt October 1, 10 11:10 AM

The Legacy of Jeb Bush in living color.

Posted by Marian Berry October 1, 10 11:21 AM

we are cancer

Posted by student October 1, 10 11:21 AM

Looks like the Nazca drawings from Peru.

Posted by Emily October 1, 10 11:25 AM

@ #66. You couldn't be more wrong on so many levels. This is not architecture. This is the worst of the worst for so many reasons. This is not the way to deal with high populations, thats what a city is for. Only in America do you see this happening, because it is the cheapest and easiest way to make a buck since its cheaper to build outwards than upwards. 1000s of years of european city planning and we still haven't figured it out. There is a compromise between green space and high density.

And I'm pretty sure what # 61 was saying was just a little sarcastic. Take it easy.

But yes they are terribly beautiful photographs of an ugly ugly thing.

Oh and before you make some assumptions about me, realize that I'm a white middle class American male, from the suburbs, going to a private university in the northeast...

Posted by anonymous October 1, 10 11:31 AM

another thing to mention are the condition of the roads. vacant and half empty neighborhoods dont generate enough taxes for road repair. much of charlotte and lee county roads, in paticular these empty neighborhood streets look as if you are driving in central america.

Posted by jaime October 1, 10 11:35 AM

And it's all about six inches above sea level...

Posted by abu October 1, 10 11:36 AM


Posted by skd October 1, 10 11:42 AM

It's market, AKA Capitolism. Sorry but we have to house people somewhere! This is what THEY can afford. Not great but beats rackum and stackum (like the Chinese comment) of going verticle. How much land do owners in NYC have?

Posted by Steve October 1, 10 12:04 PM

Ironically, in SE Florida, most of the residents are from NYC, Boston, or Europe. Why don't all the transplants leave immediately and then we can get back to the 'real' Florida and not all this sprawling B.S. like you see in these pictures.

Posted by Michael October 1, 10 12:16 PM

Ah, the illusion that the path to prosperity was buying and selling homes to and from one another at ever inflated prices.

Posted by kiop October 1, 10 12:17 PM

Someday they will regret cramming all those houses so close together!

The density of the Florida sub-divisions is extreme.

Not an inch of land for the natural habitat or animals or ecosystems.

Florida is a place that should have had 20 acre zoning per lot. That would have left enough jungle and shoreline for healthy ecosystems.

What a disaster they have created down there!

Posted by Ug-ly! October 1, 10 12:31 PM

We are turning the jewel of the universe into a trampled, human feedlot. We have evicted all possibility of awe or mystery from our lives.

Posted by Anonymous October 1, 10 12:40 PM

in europe, they think 100 miles is a long distance.
in america, they think 100 years is a long time.
in florida, they think 100 homes on a cul-de-sac is reasonable.

Posted by drow October 1, 10 12:40 PM

When you consider how much land is still open because of tight communities like these, it seems easier to accept.

Posted by roymond October 1, 10 01:20 PM

Now I understand where Brasília's so-called urbanism comes from.

Posted by Gibbs October 1, 10 01:38 PM

The people that "planned" these "communities" should play Sim City 4 and get back to us....(I understand most of these are pre personal computer era....but sheesh..who the hell would want to be miles away from retail,jobs and industry this obscene?) Ridiculous.

Posted by Jared F Hyder October 1, 10 01:41 PM

@86 yep I've walked in to many wring homes and even deleted a wrong one in one of those neighborhoods once. Same house number but terrace vs Ln. The streets ALL had the same name, with ave, ct, st, pl, cir, even street court!

Posted by Charlie from Miami October 1, 10 01:48 PM

The people that "planned" these "communities" should play Sim City 4 and get back to us....(I understand most of these are pre personal computer era....but sheesh..who the hell would want to be miles away from retail,jobs and industry this obscene?) Ridiculous.

Posted by Jared F Hyder October 1, 10 01:58 PM

All y'all are just jealous that you're freezing your butts off during the winter in filthy cities like Boston, NY, DC, Phila. while we enjoy balmy weather, fresh produce, and an active lifestyle. Just because it looks "different" doesn't mean it's "bad." I have an idea: instead of flocking down here Feb. & March, clogging our arteries, crowding our restaurants, and spreading your sneezing, coughing FLU, stay the heck home and enjoy your gray, cold northern Winter!

Posted by DeeDee October 1, 10 01:59 PM

This pictures are of hell on earth. As mentioned, those people should be living in a real city, with buses and subways, not evil cars.

Posted by Mark B October 1, 10 02:05 PM

Wow this makes the slimy sales guys from Glengarry Glen Ross pushing land in Florida make so much more sense now.

Posted by Morgan October 1, 10 02:16 PM

Florida is nice folks Zoo place ... Thank BG!!!

Posted by michael October 1, 10 02:29 PM

I grew up in suburban Atlanta, which looks pretty similar to a lot of these photos (aside from the canals). Then I moved north and attended grad school in Pittsburgh (a much nicer city than people give it credit for) and now live near Boston. Never again will I live in a sprawling suburban mess like so much of the country has become. I now live in an apartment in a medium-sized town in walking distance of pretty much everything. I walk to the grocery store, library, post office, shops, church, doctor's office, you name it. The only thing not in walking distance is work, which is only a 10-minute drive away.

Posted by Adam October 1, 10 02:46 PM

I really wish I didn't have to grow up in these places.
I think it robbed me of a lot of the things normal kids get to experience.
Crappy schools and hardly any kids to be friends with.
The only things that surround these areas are the same franchises that are everywhere in Florida and so nowhere to hang out.(unless you count walmart or our little crappy malls)
You drive and drive and see the same thing over and over.
You really can't even go explore the woods around here because of how dense and swampy they are. (even they are the same virtually all over)
I should have done better in school now i think I'm stuck here.
I'd rather live in Detroit.

Posted by Kyle October 1, 10 03:02 PM

Just for your info: from my house in Cape Coral, seen on the picture, you can walk to a supermarket in less tha 5 minutes. You can't distinguish homes from stores in the picture. At most all you need is a bike to go shopping from any of those homes you see.
When you visit a city on Google Maps you have never really been there.

Posted by Elizabeth October 1, 10 03:11 PM

Detractors could consider living in western San Francisco with no yards, each house directly connected to the next, with only the only open space consisting of the concrete street that runs in front. It's hailed as "sustainable" but in the end it's even more offensive (if that's possible) than the wonderful photos here.

Of course, SF has the benefit of being perched among a few hills, the bay, and the ocean so there is some respite from its utterly soulless, depression inducing "sustainable" footprint. One wonders how livable it would be if it were magically transported to some landlocked desert location...

Anyway, those little bits of green and little bits of water in the photos are lovely and FAR more sustainable than one might imagine given the "retiree" nature of the place and the ability to do high tech work from home.

Posted by Michael October 1, 10 03:21 PM

Many of these "development" were platted in the 40s, 50s, 60s with no consideration given for non-residential uses. A lot of this is the legacy of Euclidian Zoning taken to the extreme. The idea that uses had to be separated..there's been a shift in planning to a more sustainable approach to new development. We still build way too much in outlying areas, but it's where land is cheap and easier to build upon. Check out any suburban development that occurred post WWII and you find pretty much the same kind of pattern.

Redevelopment of these areas is quite difficult because many of the lots now have multiple owners, creating a hodge podge of landholders in remote areas. That and people have moved on to the next big thing. Florida's boom and bust history ("I've got some swamp land in Florida to sell you") goes way back to even the 1920s and 1930s, this most recent housing crisis really isn't all that significant when viewed over the course of the past 100 yrs of development in the state.


Posted by Spinx2 October 1, 10 03:24 PM

This is not just a symptom of South Florida, these pictures could have just as easily come from my area of Central Florida. And yes, I guess I would be one of the people everyone seems to be ragging on. You say you can't understand wanting to live away from major cities, but I say I couldn't live in a crowded apartment building in a huge city.

Posted by Viking October 1, 10 03:28 PM

Wow, you guys really want to compare Fort Myers, population 48,000, to Hong Kong!? What would be the real economic and environmental costs to build 40-story apartment buildings instead of that sprawl?

I wouldn't necessarily want to live in any of the pictured neighborhoods, but the "How can people live like that!?" comments smack of "Let 'em eat cake!" cluelessness about the way the rest of the country is laid out, the cost of land, the cost of construction, etc.

Posted by K October 1, 10 03:45 PM

We all need a little perspective here. It's important to realize that Southwest Florida is over 40% protected, or in a conservation status. Much of the high density development pictures you see are a result of 1) the type of planning that was allowed years ago, and 2) a continued effort to keep an ever growing population out of preservation land (much of which is open to the public if they decide they want to experience nature for the day). For the life of me, I can't understand why so many Americans feel the need to tell others how to live their lives. I blame capitalism...everyone else is. But I blame it for making a way for me to feed my wife and daughter, and if I do a good job for a long enough time, maybe I can make a little extra to make life better for them.

To "The Solution"...Who do you suggest buy each individually owned home, rezone, demolish, and build these fancy new buildings for the community's convenience? Nice "Solution".

Posted by Ray October 1, 10 04:22 PM

Why so cynical? Is a landscape of grass huts and cattle trails somehow better than this. These are peoples homes, and I'm certain most of them are proud of where they live. Lighten Up!

Posted by Carr Leon October 1, 10 04:33 PM

My favorite detail: if you go to Street View for #15 you'll see that several houses have their garbage out for pickup: "Yeah, I've chosen to live in the middle of nowhere, but pick up my damn garbage." Ah, that independent spirit!

Posted by reg October 1, 10 04:40 PM

Strangely beautiful but makes me sick to my stomach.

Posted by Quatguy October 1, 10 04:58 PM

To those outraged over land use & excessive gas use in FL - a dose of reality please. Have you been to SW FL? Yes, there are many unfinished communities & empty homes - this is true many places. This is not the fault of the individual homeowner but the developers, politicians & financial institutions eager to cash in on the next boom. In picture 11, what looks like a population explosion is actually a very small area if you go to google maps & zoom out. All of those homes have been there many years & are small average homes, all within a short walk to the beautiful ocean or a short bike ride to the grocery. Many people do walk or ride their bikes - the weather is why they live there. #25 is on Marco Island, a small island, all of which is walkable & bikeable. #21 in Naples - zoom out - there is a large hospital 1/2 mile up the road, a large library in the neighborhood across the road, a Walmart 2 miles south & in most of FL, a Publix, the main employee-owned grocery in all of FL is never more than 2 to 5 miles in any direction. So if people do drive, it isn't far. Have you been to NY City, Chicago, LA - or any other large city? People may walk, but where & how far? You think the number of cabs, subways, trains, buses & planes required to move the masses is better? My son lives in Idaho - beautiful country, no crowds - also no place to walk except for fun. The nearest town to shop is 1 1/2 hours away, a small grocery is 4 miles, everything is more expensive because it's the middle of the country so trucking is expensive. They drive everywhere - through mountains of snow, all in SUV's so they can make it through. Sure, there aren't many people on a daily basis, but over 2 million people travel through there each year - by car or motor home - to vacation & enjoy our natural parks. FL, CA, the East Coast - all the same - people like the water - or the middle of nowhere for the mountains & snow. Which is better?? With your limited take on the few photos & scant information - it seems your solution would be to just eliminate human beings & their horrible habits. Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by Patsy October 1, 10 05:26 PM

Number 10 is a face, is it not? Complete with a nose, mouth, eyes and at least one ear. Do urban planners really do stuff like that or am I imagining this?

Posted by Phil October 1, 10 05:49 PM

Ah yes. So much to hate about America; except your right to hate America without persecution.

Posted by dsp October 1, 10 05:51 PM

Oh so terrible, It is so much better to have the acre+ zoning laws so common in Bostons Suburbs. These development are far more efficient at using space that butilder and cities in Massachusetts.

Posted by Anonymous October 1, 10 06:17 PM

@Cameron #93, except that Subdivisions was about teenage cliques, not real estate developments in FL or elsewhere. Good grief.

Posted by dsp October 1, 10 06:54 PM

These remind me of the experimental protocol city of tomorrow that Walt Disney was very seriously planning for Florida and the rest of the world before he died.

Posted by Randy October 1, 10 07:03 PM

I agree with Patsy comment #189. My parents live in that area (yes, in the winter! - after 60+ years of Michigan's cold weather). They chose a low-rise condo building (10 units, 5 below, 5 above) in a development of such buildings. Compact building left open space available where they (and their many neighbors) look out on a (man-made) "natural" area that now hosts multiple kinds of large birds and the occasional alligator. VERY near by are the stores, restaurant, health-care facilities that are not shown in these interesting photos. I live in very densely populated Chicago - I'm not sure the land use here is any better (although our water supply is more happily assured!)

Posted by Margaret October 1, 10 07:07 PM

Decades ago, I remember flying over Florida on the way to South America from Canada. I looked out the window and saw...that. My stomach knotted up; I had an eerie feeling that something something vast, relentless and mechanical was going to rise up and swallow me whole.

I've asked friends about this and found it was not an uncommon reaction.

Posted by Rick October 1, 10 07:15 PM

Attention, all Floridians! To stop this madness (almost 1/2 million vacant and abandoned homes, and an equal number in danger of foreclosure), be sure to vote YES on Amendment 4. It's our only hope to rid our local and state governments of developer bribes, and to save our State and its life-sustaining resources from total devastation by sprawl. Visit for details, and get active! With the support of Florida's corrupt politicians, the developers are using federal Stimulus Funds (our tax dollars!) for a massive campaign of lies in order to kill the citizens initiative, Amendment 4, and keep their gravy train going!

Posted by Jean Prevost October 1, 10 07:40 PM

...little boxes made of ticky tacky.
Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky, and they all look just the same.

Malvina Reynolds -- Schroder Music

Posted by dingi October 1, 10 07:46 PM

Nature will recover that's what hurricanes are for.

Posted by Marlon Deason October 1, 10 08:02 PM

this is sooo much better than the palm-shaped islands of Dubai

Posted by takloo October 1, 10 08:23 PM

That fellow from Finland (comment 99) sure has plenty to say, but doesn't sound like you've even ever been to America before.. what's that nonsense about a car-based culture? I'm pretty sure its like that all around other highly developed nations. its people with money from other colder cities that move down south for a good time.

For what its worth, I'm in Southern California, where earthquakes/mudslides/wild fires are a possibility just about any time of the year.. and its been at least 5 years since the last time Mother Earth unleashed any fury down here.

Posted by Mike C. October 1, 10 08:26 PM

Before passing judgement on a relatively small section of Florida, perhaps do your research and learn about the abundance of state and national parks Florida works diligently to maintain and restore. Payne's Prairie is one of the few places you can still see wild horses and bison in the US, you could spent years exploring conservation barrier islands and keys, and of course there are all the natural swamps, strands, and rivers that make Florida beautiful. While "suburbia" may not be everyone's cup of tea, tight housing allows for more natural areas to be preserved while offering families the opportunity of owning single family homes, which many dream of, as opposed to a cramped city apartments unsuitable for any more than 2 people.

Posted by Natura October 1, 10 08:49 PM

Florida has no soul....

Posted by boringFL October 1, 10 09:02 PM

Quite interesting responses. Some thinking that it is a vast wasteland of urban sprawl run amok, while others state that the houses are too close together. Each has their own differing opinion. I land somewhere in between. While the sustainability argument carries some weight, it was the economy that drove land and home prices down, not urban sprawl. Some developments are obvious sprawl while others demonstrate fairly decent attempts at clustered development.

One writer noted that these are in fact peoples homes which I'm sure they take a great amount of pride in, just as someone may if they lived in a stacked apartment or townhome. They choose their home based on their needs and their lifestyle. Providing choice in place of social engineering communities that would force people into homes they do not choose, is not the solution. How would building rows and stacks of uninspired townhomes/apts would impact a community any differently that paved roads without any homes on them?

Give people a reason to change and they will come to their own conclusions as to what and what is not "sustainable"

Posted by G Wohlberg October 1, 10 09:09 PM

The comments are varied and entertaining. The pictures are surreal. This is delightful; somewhat euphoric-inducing. This should go out world-wide.

Posted by GreenPhotog October 1, 10 09:29 PM

I'll be thinking of you all this winter. I was born in New Hampshire, grew up in Somerville, and now live 4 miles from the Red Sox spring training site, and 2 miles from the Edison Mall; my total utility bills, including water, electric and telephone), run me $130/month (max). Tonight it is a cool 74, and tomorrow will be a comfortable 85.

Happy shoveling, suckers!

Posted by Bob Maloney October 1, 10 09:32 PM

Hey - it ain't always perfect! But if you want the freedom to live where you choose, work where you choose, worship if/when/and where you choose, educate your kids, and live in the state that is per capita the most generous in the country - then Florida works. Mass rail and Skyscapers are good ideas that work elsewhere - not coming soon to Ft Myers. You American bashers from Europe need to get over yourselves, and be thankful that Americans have had your back for the last 60 years or you'd all be enjoying urban planning - Soviet style. St Petersburg Florida is a beautiful city with a bustling economy. St. Petersburg Russia (or whatever it is currently named) is also beautiful, with a modern rail system, which was quite helpful when foreign food and aid is periodically shipped in to keep the populace from starving.

Posted by Kasey October 1, 10 09:35 PM

Strange looking, yes. But having lived in Boston and now in Naples, I wouldn't mind seeing the "beautiful" housing photos of Dorchester, Somerville, Malden, and the like! I'm sure more than one reader may actually see their emporer's clothing for what it is.

Posted by NotSoFast October 1, 10 09:37 PM

Live in Florida for now, returning to Boston ASAP. Believe me, it's a nightmare getting lost here in these neighborhoods.

Very cool to see from above, though!

Posted by Ryan October 1, 10 09:44 PM

Karmadog, if you live here, you should know how to spell Rotonda. Did you go to public school? The pictures are beautiful. Thanks for taking the time putting it together. Anyone never up in a plane before, there is a lot of God's green earth left. More than we'd ever know what to do with. Don't sweat it. You'll be living here someday too.

Posted by Capt October 1, 10 09:47 PM

Pack 'em in and let 'em sweat. What horrible communities

Posted by steve October 1, 10 09:56 PM

After reading the last 100 comments, only comment #197 hit the nail on the head: Irresponsible county commissioners giving permission for the developers to proceed with their development plans. Don't blame the customers (home buyers) or the suppliers (developers). The are/were just practicing capitalism, something our country was founded on. It's our county commissioners whom we put our trust in to ensure the public's best interest is represented that have failed us. Hmmm, might I be on to something? Photo's 1, 4, 6, & 9, just to name a few, are examples of them failing to be good stewards of our natural resources. Perhaps Floridians should indeed look into their Amendments this year.

Posted by JK October 1, 10 10:30 PM

You guys think it's hell. Well, come to China and have a look what's hell exactly. In cities, most people live in small flats in high density buildings. Young people can't afford new flats at all. People who built their own houses have been and will be enforced to move and houses smashed by gov. America is the heaven to us. The America dream still exist. Build your country better.
Simcity 4 is a good game.

Posted by lackar October 1, 10 10:50 PM

You guys think it's hell. Well, come to China and have a look what's hell exactly. In cities, most people live in small flats in high density buildings. Young people can't afford new flats at all. People who built their own houses have been and will be enforced to move and houses smashed by gov. America is the heaven to us. The America dream still exist. Build your country better.
Simcity 4 is a good game.

Posted by lackar October 1, 10 10:53 PM

its all relative....south florida from miami to west palm is tightly packed, but the metro area is only 20 miles wide. from my apartment i can bike to the beach or drive and be on the edge of the everglades in 15 minutes looking at hundreds of miles of wilderness. there is plenty of wide open space, the problem is, most people never leave suburbia and take a look around. until you spend time in florida, you will not really see the natural beauty. the lighting at dawn and dusk is like nowhere else ive seen, all the colors are magnified. the bright greens and deep blue of sky and sea.

Posted by jetrun October 1, 10 11:47 PM

Seeing these picture of tightly developed communities makes me happy to have recently moved to North Dakota where I have 4 neighbors within a 1 mile radius.

Posted by Chuck October 1, 10 11:57 PM

I grew up in MA and now live in AZ. Lots of Florida style development out here, just not so much water. Why the horror at these photos? Of course the roads etc. look manmade-- they are. Of course they look like a printed circuit board--- just like a PC board, they were designed by an engineer somewhere using a straight edge, circle template and protractor. So what? Why are there so many houses? Because people wanted to buy them.

The crowd that is looking down on these areas, literally and figuratively, as being so "packed" with houses are the same ones who decry "sprawl." Can't have it both ways. From ground level, which is how these areas are experIenced, I bet a lot of these neighborhoods look quite nice. Many people want their own four walls, a yard and a view of a little water out back-- what is the horror in that? I just Google-Earthed East Boston and Dorchester-- oh the horror-- three-decker housing just stuffed in there every which way... I think I could even see a high-altitude view of an old lady sticking a lawn chair out in the street so no one would have the nerve to park in front of her house! I bet many would choose Fla over that. So you snobs need to stop tsk-tsking and get reaL.

Posted by clarifier October 2, 10 01:00 AM

There you are, the american dream destroying planet earth !!!

Posted by G.I. Gurdjieff October 2, 10 01:11 AM

Ahh. Use to live in SW Florida, I've been to every area in those pictures, let me tell you, it looks much nicer up here then it does down there!

Posted by RedScope53 October 2, 10 01:48 AM

In all the time I followed this Blog, I've never seen so many misinformed and prejudiced comments. People are posting here without a clear understanding of what they're seeing. Some are crying "natural disaster" because they believe a lot of land is being wasted. Some are crying "natural disaster" because they think people are crammed together.

First, some news from someone who lived over eight years in Florida: If you don't mind the humitidy, the heat and the lack of mountains, Florida is not so bad. If you're old, Florida is good for you. Lots of green and warm weather. If you're young, South Florida has *fantastic* night life.

Not all in Florida is good, but there's a *lot* of prejudice against Florida. I have friends living in tiny little apartments in San Francisco who believe they're saving the environment and Floridians are destroying it. Go visit San Francisco and try to spot some native fauna inside the city. Found any? Well, in Florida I had peacocks walking in my street and migratory birds visiting my backyard.

Posted by LagostaMan October 2, 10 02:36 AM

This is what you call the Comfortable Standard of Human Shelter. This place seems common all around the U.S. i think everyone is having a good life. I just have a question.. How an average American realistically own one of those big houses? Are your income per capita really that big for a lavish community? ..or is it really that BANKS own every ones ASS?

Posted by ricomammbo October 2, 10 04:13 AM

Looks like paradise to me. Beats the heck out of being stacked upon one another in boxes with no place to move. In most of those pictures there are hundreds of possibilities for children to get out on a bike and explore some nature, or hop in a kayak and go fishing or snorkeling on some grass flats. This is a great example of freedom, if you can't afford your very own wildlife preserve you can go out in you own yard, maybe look out over the lake or canal, hop in a shallow water skiff and bring the family out for a picnic on the water. The lots that are not built, nature will take back. Thank GOD for America and it's natural beauty! Just think, all those people have so much room for freedom, they could be in some european metropolis living in boxes stacked up pouring dirty laundry water off their balcony and throwing their trash to giant heaps out on the sidewalk. With kids spending more time on sidewalks and malls then in grass and water. All you haters have no idea what you are missing. You just keep wishing you had this natural beauty in your backyard and planning vacations away from your self inflicted doom.

Posted by Davey October 2, 10 04:39 AM

With so many homeless people why are some of these empty or not finished

Posted by Jennie October 2, 10 05:58 AM

The US style of development is simply a waste of fuel, energy and materials.

Posted by Huynh October 2, 10 06:26 AM

oh dear oh dear.

What happens if oil gets considerably expensive? Is that a solution to the "one million immigrants" per year you are offering? meth-laden suburbs without police, fire department or state whatsoever?

Posted by notamusedeuropean October 2, 10 06:38 AM

I live in SWFL; in fact, my own home is just outside one of the images.The weather's nice here and there's no state income tax, so lots of people want to live here; that's where the law of supply and demand takes over, and "developments" like those above are the result.

And those results are ridiculous.

There are a few master-planned developments like Verona Walk (#21); these attempt to bring a little old-school hometown America into the scene, with integrated on-site "town centres" where one can find a tiny post office, a minuscule convenience store, and maybe a gas station selling regular unleaded at 20% over area retail.

How very Normal Rockwell.

Besides those pathetic nods to civilization, though, the entire region seems to be square mile after square mile of jam-'em-in housing developments laid out with absolutely no thought given to how or even whether said development should fit into the overall scheme of things. It's not just jobs that are miles away from homes: walking to a supermarket or a restaurant is virtually impossible simply because things are so ridiculously spread out.

Some above have mentioned America's affinity for simply consuming more raw land rather than be bothered with the expense of building up in existing areas instead. Well, Southwest Florida builds up--there are towering condominiums all along the coast, ensuring that most of the year-round residents can't see the beach, or even feel a sea-breeze, unless we care to drive a great distance to one of the small wedges of overcrowded public access areas along the Gulf shore.

What can we do about it? Not much, it appears. This is America. Greed rules. Always has, always will...

Posted by Jim Pettit October 2, 10 06:49 AM

Those they's that created the mess down here are from up there somewhere. facto citio . It was a total waste at the time and still is today. What do we do now, the tax payers of the local area assume the cost of cleaning it all up? Thanks Y'ALL LOL Local

Posted by catfish October 2, 10 08:11 AM

@ #152

Most cities in Florida are laid out on a grid and use numbers with compass quadrants for the street names. This is actually a very practical convention, and makes finding addresses easy. Every place in Florida is pretty much like every other place anyway, so it's best to save the names for things that need them.

Posted by Kenneth Adams October 2, 10 08:36 AM

Mosquito Avenue...

Posted by gzavi October 2, 10 08:48 AM

Aerial views do show densely packed neighborhoods, but this is not as realistic as a street view. Sample building codes require 8000 sq ft lots with 80 ft frontage and building set backs from lot lines of about 8 ft. I would suggest that some of the complainers take a look at a street view which a couple of these "google" maps have and see what a neighbor hood actually looks like from ground level. A ground level view gives you much more of a feel of the space and neighborhood than aerial views. True, Florida suffered overdevelopment as did other areas of the country by developers trying to cash in on the real estate boom. I lived in Florida for a year and moved back to the northeast because I did not like the heat and humidity, so I will move snow and endure cold weather.

Posted by HC Heath, Massacvhusetts October 2, 10 09:09 AM

It is interesting to see that some people are complaining that the homes are two close together and others are complaining that they are too spread out (vs building upward). I think most of them look ugly.

Posted by hank101 October 2, 10 09:41 AM

Beautiful and ugly all at the same time... like fine art.

It realy does put things in to perspective though. The photographs reveal to us how we are not unlike the other colonized species of the planet... such as ants or termites. We obey a heirarchy and preffer the security and benefits that, "having ones own kind" nearby grants us... and ultimately ants are nothing more than what we are in the grand scheme of things. We are realy, realy ,realy small and of no consequence to anything but ourselves.
I/E: We can not "kill" or "destroy" the planet earth. All we can do is make it uninhabitable for most of the higher evolved life forms. The planet itself could care less and would just keep on chugging along, doing what it's been for billions of years... creating life. ( and apparently it's realy ignorant life at that.)
... There are just to numerous of things that we as a species are doing wrong.

Posted by nosoul4evr October 2, 10 10:02 AM


Posted by DIEGO SAMANEZ October 2, 10 10:09 AM

I recommend the movie "The Unforeseen" to educate yourself on the issue of suburban sprawl. I agree that for many Americans this is their best choice for a place to live and not everyone can conform to living in dense urban environment, so this presents a need for this kind of development. But these developments are usually very poorly constructed with the developers taking very little liability, leaving the homeowners with huge unexpected costs. These neighborhoods are also designed in such a way that they make people totally reliable on their car...I did not see a grocery store or dry cleaner in a single photo. These developments, in many cases, are being built on land that is extremely valuable to local ecosystems and the environment, or are creating unnatural environments that harm the surroundings. Unfortunately, the average person who does not have a degree in environmental studies, architecture, or planning, does not see this and thinks these are the best places to live. But if we look outside of ourselves and our single plot that we own, we see that is not true.

My suggestion...that we stop building places like this, retrofit the developments that are already existing to become more pedestrian friendly (example, making them their own sustainable neighborhoods) and trying to restore some of the environmental chaos that was caused by these.

Posted by TDiz October 2, 10 10:22 AM

People do need to reside somewhere. I could not afford to buy the modest Cape Cod home in the Boston suburbs that I grew up in. $350k w/ 1/2 acre. Even my expensive New England private college education won't be enough to sustain that price tag plus 2 kids. Add to that the joy of a really tough suburb-to-suburb commute and I cried uncle.

So someday, if I am lucky, I may have a shot at owning in a home in a "horrible" densely packed neighborhood for $200k. I could enjoy warm weather too? Mmm that doesn't sound so horrible. I guess I am an awful person?

Let's be honest. Unless you prefer an urban environment, it is likely you will need a car from time to time! I guess I am an awful person for using my gas powered vehicle too?

Posted by moved-from-mass October 2, 10 10:57 AM

Ces plans symbolisent l' égalité entre les hommes:
même surface de terrain,même maison.
Est il si difficile d'être égaux sur terre ? Le résultat semble inhumain.
Mais je suis sur que l'intérieur de chaque maison est différent,et que chaque habitant est aussi différent de son voisin,
c'est ce qui est important.

Posted by Gontard October 2, 10 11:43 AM

I'll be those people living in #17 are real happy all those trees got cleared out for their development. Now they can spy on their "neighbors" across 20 empty lots...

Posted by Norf October 2, 10 12:44 PM

it would take longer to build this in dwarf fortress then it took in real life

Posted by jim fartson October 2, 10 01:31 PM

I never read so many Liberal cry baby comments in one place. The people who live in these places must like living there or they would move. You don't have to live there. I actually better understand how "Andrew" did so much damage in the early 90s from these pics. I hate people who think they know every single thing about every single thing there is to know anything about, you Liberal blow hard morons !!!!!!!!!!

Posted by possum October 2, 10 02:24 PM

Photo 1: At first I thought it was a rejected, poorly etched circuit board. Upon closer examination, I was correct.

Posted by Basel October 2, 10 02:46 PM

Yeah I wonder why all those people up north move down here?

Really as a person who always wanted lots of land something changed when I visited SWF. If you're judging this area by those aerial views you really don't have a clue how wonderful it is here. Try 300 days a year you can fish, golf, beach, boat or just enjoy the outdoors.

Palm Trees, wonderful wildlife including just about every kine of bird you can think of, Florida Panthers, Black Bears, Gators , Dolphins, on and on.

Oh but we don't have snow or pot holes or car inspections or state income tax etc.

I'm just saying....

Posted by Capt. Jack October 2, 10 03:17 PM

These are images of Malignancy and Metastasis; our economic model is cancer. Gotta love it.

The healthiest, most free, self-determined cell in the human body is the cancer cell. Growing for the sake of growth..doing it because it CAN.

The healthiest cell has uncontrollable is the one that pays no heed to the system that supports it.

Damn regulation, control and wisdom....FULL SPEED AHEAD!!!

Posted by Norcal Walnut October 2, 10 05:55 PM

2009 & 2010 are the getting richer; poor getting poorer!
Sorry, if you do not own stocks or employer stock options during the golden years rescued by the Obama economical team!

Posted by John October 2, 10 07:02 PM

Why do they all have a fake lake ? Hey Diego writing in all capital letters shows your a bit close to the edge but does not scare us.

Posted by Richard October 2, 10 08:04 PM

These aerial pictures, people. The homes are not as close as they appear to be. Gee!

Posted by Suze Jean-Charles October 2, 10 08:41 PM

It's bug ambiental impact, so terrible. These suburbs has been contructed over everglades.

Posted by Ricardo October 2, 10 09:47 PM

Good for ZIGSAW Puzzle.

Posted by DD2762 October 3, 10 01:21 AM

awful i thought development where i lived in Western AUSTRALIA was ugly. but it seems to be world wid.

Posted by susan October 3, 10 06:08 AM

looking at these pictures i think it is not only a question about density, whether this is a waste of land or an efficient way to build so many houses. What shocked me most is the planners lack of imagination/fantasy/creativity. I do belief that above all diversity and peculiarity are the basic elements which enable a persons identification with its surrounding. Therefore i ask myself how the people can feel responsible for their environment if hardly any hook for their identification is beeing offered?!

Posted by siobhan October 3, 10 06:24 AM

Type your comment here...

Posted by Anonymous October 3, 10 12:36 PM

"Densly Populated..."

You made me lough, really.
It's like 1984's Newspeech. Good, man !

Posted by Oz October 3, 10 12:55 PM

I have lived in SW Fla. for the past 4 years and I cannot wait to move back to Boston (very soon). The only good thing about Fla. is the weather and even that can be stifling. The weather in the summer is particularly unbearable. I have had my central air conditioning on since the end of April. No fresh air. The whole state is flat. No hills or mountains. I can't wait to leave here.

Posted by Michelle October 3, 10 01:20 PM

@kyle Artists and architects are buying foreclosed homes in Detroit for as little as $100. In St. Louis, artists are moving into vacant retail spaces in a shopping mall, turning stores that stood empty for more than a year into studios and event spaces for rents of $100 a month. Artspace Projects Inc., a national nonprofit development corporation, plans to create 35 live/work spaces for artists on vacant property in Hamilton, Ohio, after converting an empty car factory and an adjacent lot in Buffalo, N.Y., into 60 artists' lofts last year.

Posted by bill October 3, 10 05:03 PM

For the record, none of these images are from the "Bradenton Area," as stated.

Posted by Anonymous October 3, 10 09:20 PM

I live in SE Florida and these look exactly like all of the neighborhoods around where I live.
I thought it was like that everywhere, guess not.

Posted by Stephanie October 3, 10 09:49 PM

the ship is without captain, take everything you can before it sinks, the earth has enough for everyone, but not enough for everyone's greed.

Posted by guchingman October 3, 10 11:13 PM

We, mankind, deserve nothing more than the tornados, floods, earthquakes and horricanes happening today, shame on most of us, just stop!

Posted by Felipe October 4, 10 12:39 AM

Hi from Chicago, and yes, those pictures are depressing, Souless development, and of course CHEAP! Like a few have stated in their comments, there is no sense of adventure or mystery. Thank God I have the whole of the midwest and west as my back door. The Farmlands and prairies witha town every seven to ten miles along a rail line, tens of thousands of these sprang up after the Civil war. All different, some flourishing, and some floundering. But I wonder what Geographers will call this kind of development in years to come. Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana are terrific, have you ever experienced -40 below zero, with 40 mile an hour winds, thats North Dakota in a winter storm. These Blizzards have the power of a small Hurricane. Amazing, just don't wander out of your house too far. As for that fellow that mentioned how much of SW Florida is protected, but how much is accessible to people? Try BLM all over the western states, they have 20 times as much land as The National Park Service. Sometines hard to reach, but worth it once you get there. Go Florida, keep up the dense developments, that way, those drones won't be coming to my back yard! The interaction of humans with nature can be seen in these areas, in a prolonged pattern of ebb and flow, but that Florida stuff, As a Geologist, I wonder how the water supplies are going to hold out. Hard to drink salt water!

Posted by Philip Kaminski October 4, 10 12:53 AM

That's it, minimize set-back, and maximize exposure to amplified stereo devices and custom exhaust pipes. The price I would pay for one of these? Priceless. 0. Cities = Penitentiaries = Unliveable. If you like it then you should a put a fence on it...if you like it then you should a put a fence on it...penitentiary...

Posted by YouBestBackUp October 4, 10 02:43 AM

I am a NJ transplant to SW Florida, in particular, Cape Coral. We moved from a more densly populated part of Cape Coral, to the NW section of the city near Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf. Here I can fish a 200 foot wide salt water canal each morning, put in my crab traps for blue claws and stone crabs when available, fish for Tarpon, Redfish, Snook and what else might be moving through my canal. We can swim in the pool most of the year, see a manatee cruise by once in a while, not to mention a dolphin or two. I see SW Florida as PARADISE. And we are close enough to shopping. I have only two houses on our steet.I did enjoy looking at the maps of the SW area

Posted by Anonymous October 4, 10 04:35 AM

Muito Bom............!!!

Posted by weslleyreys October 4, 10 07:21 AM

Please people, now you all have a link to Google Maps at hand (beneath almost every pic in this post), DO take a little time to zoom out to the rest of the world and take advantage of all the posibilities you have in front of your eyes, posibilities to learn about the world through more than 2 thousand years of urban building. Please, take a look at ancient cities in China, India, Europe. How different or similar they are from each other. How old cities have grown, how new cities have been built. Really, a lot to learn about!

Posted by J October 4, 10 08:10 AM

I agree with #190 that the planners must have had Edvard Muncs famous painting "the scream" from 1893 in mind and as an inspiration for the number 10 picture.

Posted by Totte Bjorre October 4, 10 08:41 AM

little boxes made of ticky tacky...

Posted by ryan October 4, 10 08:52 AM

I have been to almost every state, and visited over 100 countries. I have chosen to live in Southwest Florida over any other place I have seen. Why? It is teaming with life, everwhere you look. It is one of the top 10 areas for clean air. The longevity here is the second highest in the United States. It is green and verdant year round. In Collier County, 60% of the land is under conservation, both public and private. There is a flourishing culture here, in art, food, and performance. Everything I need in life is within 2 miles of my house.
Extrapolating a judgement on Florida by looking at these pictures is like understanding how a human looks by photograhing the inside of their nose!
Charlie O

Posted by Charlie Ostrander October 4, 10 09:35 AM

WOW!! Such arrogance and stupidity in one place! As a native Floridian, can you imagine the audacity required to view aerial photos of Boston and then make uninformed comments on the quality of life for Bostonians?! Most of the photos are of areas planned 30 to 40 years ago. I live in a "planned community" built 10 years ago. Small lots of 1/4 acre or less, homes in the 2,000 sq ft range, 15 feet between homes. But wait, I live on a "man made" lake teaming with bass, egrets, ibis and herons. Our community maintians a 21 acre nature preserve at OUR cost and you can't imagine the number of rabbits invading my vegetable garden each year! (That's right, I have a vegatable garden in my yard) I can walk 5 minutes to a grocery store, dry cleaner, starbucks, etc. Living in one of these communities involves some trade-offs, but isn't that the same everywhere? Florida deserves some criticism for past decisions and this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but neither is cramped living conditions and mass transit. Relax folks. If you don't like it, then don't move here. Problem solved.

Posted by Tim October 4, 10 09:50 AM

I live in the middle of Port Charlotte, in Charlotte County, in SW Fl. We have lived here for 12 years. We raised our grandson here from the time he was 6 years old. He did ride a bus to elementary school, but he walked to middle and high school, both within a few blocks of our home. We can walk to the mall from our home in about 7 minutes. We usually drive to church, but it is less than 2 miles away. The grocery store is another half mile. Nowhere in Port Charlotte is more than 15 minutes away by car...and that 15 minutes will also take me south across the river to Punta Gorda or north to North Port. I can be in Disney World in less than a morning's drive. Can you? My grandson is attending one of the best "tech schools" in the country in Orlando, FL.
Our neighborhood has an 11 acre "park land" plot that is across the street from my home. I will probably never have to face anything but trees and shrubbery when I walk out my front door. The coldest weather requires an extra sweatshirt and the worst weather a raincoat. I have scraped ice off my windshield maybe 5 times in the last 12 years. There are 3 houses on our short little street and our next door neighbors have 4 kids. There are enough children in our tiny development that the elementary school bus makes 2 stops. We have quite a few retirees as well, but few "snowbirds". I know there are many areas where half the houses are deserted for half the year, but there are at least an equal number of areas like the one we live in. My cousin lives in Orange County, CA. His drive to work is 45 minutes each way and he thinks that is a blessing. They drive an hour to church and their kids spend about 3 hours per day on the school bus. Participation in church and school events requires hours more of driving each day. Their yard is half the size of ours and by CA standards it is quite grand. Perhaps we should study CA building practices?

Posted by Judy October 4, 10 09:53 AM

To each their own... I love FL, have been here for over 2 decades, and will never swap my little piece of flat, warm, green paradise for some crappy apartment in the NE.

Posted by Ola October 4, 10 10:22 AM

Try living in the UK cold wet or damp most of the year conurbations of this size are common we have so little space left due to the largest head count per square mile in Europe.
Many people in the UK would love to live in the countryside even like this and not sprawling cities.
It is all about quality of life and there is nothing like a little piece of the countryside on one’s doorstep at a price you can afford which you Americans don’t seem to understand a 3 bedroom house with only a 40yard back garden will set you back anywhere between £400k – £700k within 20 miles of London.
Be careful what you wish for and who you judge life has a habit of returning the judgement.

Posted by Graham October 4, 10 10:57 AM

I love how half of the comments here, which sound like they were written by cranky old tea party wingnuts and are largely incoherent, are strictly about aesthetics and standard of living. None of you ever stop to think, what is the cost of your lifestyle on the environment and everyone else? You don't think twice about driving an hour each way to work in your SUV, because hey at least you don't have to live in one of those crowded cities full of socialists or God forbid in an apartment. It's so selfish and wasteful.

Posted by gc October 4, 10 11:21 AM

So Graham, destroying millions of acres of virgin wetland is worth it for a little slice of the country?

Posted by gc October 4, 10 11:47 AM

I have no problem with the tightness of some of these developments, but what seems a little sad is how many are abandoned (or nearly abandoned), and have been since the '60s. A recent housing boom here in Minnesota is creating ghost communities like that in the outlying parts of the Twin Cities, and it's poignant in a way that's hard to describe.

I don't have anything against development, per se, and dense or loose depends on the sort of person who wants to live there. (Different people like different things. Nothing wrong with that.) It's the evidence of the boom and bust that leaves me a little wistful. Nice collection; interesting contrasts. Also interesting to see all the canals; that's just not something we experience up here.

Posted by Calli Arcale October 4, 10 12:07 PM

Well countryside for the rich it is then. You think living in cities is any better for the planet you miss my point no one should be denied the opportunity for a better living environment after all is that not a corner stone of your countries way of life on offer to the world. As for destroying "vast" areas, already from many of these pictures nature is reclaiming the land in the longer scheme of things nature will always win over the effots of man.
As for not stopping to think you're incoherent insults show a complete lack of maturity and ability to discuss without retort to name calling.

Posted by Graham October 4, 10 12:40 PM

I think I would shoot myself if I had to live in a cookie-cutter cul-de-sac suburban hellhole.

Posted by me October 4, 10 01:15 PM

Can you do one of these over Germany? Would be fascinating to see the differences in development/societal growth.

Posted by ALew October 4, 10 01:43 PM

Little boxes, on the sandy lot
Little boxes one my one.

Posted by RobertSeattle October 4, 10 01:59 PM

The pictures don't even show the falling water levels in many of Florida's man-made and natural lakes... especially in central Fla., farther north, I've seen lots of docks and lakeview lots that are now on sandy dirt.

Posted by TW October 4, 10 02:00 PM

I am very familiar with the development in picture 3 -- recognized it instantly. Those are not "houses" but a mix of mobile homes and travel trailers for the use of "snowbirds" during the winter months -- mostly it is deserted in the summer. It's called "Corkscrew Woodlands." My in-laws had a lot there for ten years or so.

Note how the trailers are clustered together and a substantial amount of wetland and open space is preserved. That used to be regarded as environmentally desirable -- has thinking changed about this?

Posted by roac October 4, 10 02:10 PM

Graham: When you say "no one should be denied ... a better living environment" - do you mean that even if it is worse for the environment for people to live here than in the city, that they should have the right to do it anyway, the environment be damned? Or are you disputing that cities are better for the environment?

In a city with mass transit, millions of people are transported by subway or bus with very little fuel use. There is even an opportunity for many people to walk or bicycle to and from work and services. In these tiny houses, each person uses gas to transport just themselves in a car that probably gets worse than 30 miles per gallon.

In a city, millions of people are housed in an area of a few square miles. If all those people were "spread" out with their own tiny strip of lake and tiny useless piece of grass there would be no countryside left for nature.

Do you actually have any doubt in your mind that these communities are bad for the environment? If so, let's hear your argument.

Are you claiming it is an insult to call you, who seems to be promoting the destruction of nature for the benefit of "freedom" a tea party supporter? Because destruction in the name of freedom is essentially their platform and it certainly seems that you support that.

Posted by Ermine October 4, 10 02:12 PM

Re #244:
> Why do they all have a fake lake ?

Because the highest spot in Collier Co is 17' above mean high tide. If you have a lake to drain rain into, you don't have to swim from your front door to your car.

Posted by J Bartley, NHS Class of '70 October 4, 10 03:23 PM

thats why we need some real good architects to plan the future cities and not just some people with money to invest.

Posted by aaron October 4, 10 03:48 PM

Wow such ignorance about how the development industry works in this nation of ours! Why do these developments look like they do? because as a developer my profit for the whole section may be based on the last two houses out of 200. So naturally homes are squeezed into as little an area as they can be.

These developments look like they do because: when you plan a development you have to anticipate demand for the houses, you have to be right... not today but tomorrow when things get completed, you have to pay off your surveryors, road builders, etc and still charge enough so it is worth it, people will buy it, and.... there is something left over.

You want better developments? more spaces? etc? reform the way housing is financed. Make a partnership between builders, conservationists, state officials, and those who need the housing. Share the risk and make it profitable to do a good job and better design will follow.

I also believe that manufactured housing should be the norm and it would make for better housing because: the cost is about 20-30% less, the time to complete the house and the flexability to complete in a factory make for more consistancy in design and completion.. but that is just my opinion and not a plug.

Posted by darrell simon October 4, 10 03:54 PM

Amazing the amount of landscape manipulation near waterways you can do in Florida. Try doing anything near a creek in California and you have a handful of agencies requiring permits and mitigation.

Here are some photos on the subject I took a few months ago:

Posted by Scott October 4, 10 05:40 PM

I find the comments about sustainability to be very entertaining. Most people in SW Florida grow their own fruit, have MUCH shorter commutes than people living in NYC/Boston, have man-made reservoirs in case of a drought, and never need to heat their homes. If you *really* look into it, the family living in SW Florida has a much smaller carbon footprint than your average NJ family.

Posted by Mike October 4, 10 07:46 PM

Personally, I would love to move into one of those developments with only one or two homes built out of the original 5000 planned homes. No neighbors,peace and quiet, and not a speed trap to be found. It would be like having your own autobahn on your way home. In fact, i would make a deal with the developer: sell me a place in the absolute last section that would be getting finished, and I'd do my best to drop dead by the time they got around to filling in my section.

Posted by Bob October 4, 10 10:34 PM
I think this about sums it up.

Posted by OJ October 4, 10 11:32 PM

Hey, #285-

The streets in those vacant "neighborhoods" do look nice from up here, and maybe without the freeze-thaw cycle they will last awhile. And that high up you can't see gators and the cobras and leopards released by bored exotic pet owners. But who pays when your water main breaks? Who pays to maintain your gas line?

And wait- Google has sent a van around for streetview shots of roads in jungles, but haven't finished in areas populated with actual people?

FWIW, our urban areas have much lower energy use and carbon footprint than yer basic drive-around sprawllands- though still 4 times higher than the rest of the developed world. We're all screwed though, no matter what, when the gas runs out and we don't have enough energy even to make our last solar panel. Mad Max will look civilized by comparison.

Posted by Mike October 5, 10 12:11 AM

It's like Venice but without the vibrant commerce :(

Posted by Mike Peterson October 5, 10 01:04 AM

I am a property inspector here in Fla. and live in a small county with commissioners too big for their britches who are,guess what CONTRACTORS! Yes you can hate them all and say America is out of control,ever been to Greece,Italy,or other over populated European countries whose buildings are nearly ontop of eachother?This sprawl is everywhere.I live in the woods,yes there is still alot of it here,greed is behind most of the communities that are not,I repeat NOT even advertised to Floridians.I have many homes I inspect in gated communities where the owners live in Ca,Nevada,and have never seen their speculation built homes,and they are empty,they are constantly vandalized.How do you stop these kind of neighborhoods,stop them at the source.

Posted by Anonymous October 5, 10 04:16 AM


Posted by Anty October 5, 10 06:27 AM

I quite liked some of the spaces, and I'm living in Europe, in a very densely built up city.
Thats why I have one question: why are these houses built so closely together? With all that space, could one not get a tiny little bit more room for a garden?

Posted by Daphne October 5, 10 07:31 AM

As a pilot, I see stuff like this all the time. Hauntingly beautiful patterns, but still a reminder of how densely we pack our subdivisions. What is the quality of life down there when you can see beyond your neighbor's fence wall? It's greed that packs people like sardines and stupidity that allows it to happen.

I live on 2-1/2 acres far from suburban sprawl and wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by Maria October 5, 10 09:08 AM

Has anybody taken the time to Google the Earth from above in Massachusetts? Surely, it's a serene, green beautiful Garden of Eden....NOT! Cut us some slack! Surely mistakes have been made but we're doing the best we can here. We love the snowbirds from Boston who come here every spring to see their team. We think most of you are fun city folk enjoying our beautiful beaches and swampy woods. Don't make us regret that decision.

Posted by Megan Kissinger October 5, 10 09:16 AM

The geometric patterns are sometimes intriguing, but it pains me to look at these scenes. What they symbolize is over-development, and it was over-development in Florida that initiated the global meltdown! (No exaggeration, that!)

The criminals are the County Commissioners who copulate with the developers. One can't initiate Transfer Development Rights here in Florida, because Commissioners give away development rights for free (or at least that's what it looks like above-board).

These images should stir everyone in Florida to go to the polls in November and support Amendment 4. It may not be perfect, but it's absolutely imperative that someone thrust a spike into the treads of this juggernaut!

Posted by R. Ulan October 5, 10 10:31 AM

Maybe you can do a similar photo "shoot" of the toxic waste dumps, industrial rusting zones and blighted inner city areas of Boston

Posted by Mike October 5, 10 10:45 AM

This is clearly Bush's fault.

Posted by All hail the Messiah Lord Obama October 5, 10 01:12 PM

Nah, the lakes are for the owners to jump into when they realize their mortgage is more what their house is worth. So that's one amenity within walking distance.

Posted by D.B. October 5, 10 01:45 PM

(1) Best argument ever for the Chinese policy of one child per couple.

(2) I would hate to come home drunk and start looking for which of these homes is mine.

Posted by evan geilich October 5, 10 04:37 PM

The geometric patterns are sometimes intriguing, but it pains me to look at these scenes. What they symbolize is over-development, and it was over-development in Florida that initiated the global meltdown! (No exaggeration, that!)

The criminals are the County Commissioners who copulate with the developers. One can't initiate Transfer Development Rights here in Florida, because Commissioners give away development rights for free (or at least that's what it looks like above-board).

These images should stir everyone in Florida to go to the polls in November and support Amendment 4. It may not be perfect, but it's absolutely imperative that someone thrust a spike into the treads of this juggernaut!

Posted by R. Ulan October 5, 10 05:53 PM

Re # 296: Yes, this is truly Bush's fault -- John Ellis Bush, to be precise! He was deeply implicated in the move to get Wall Street to develop subprime mortgages, specifically to *inflate* the demand for housing in Florida. An awful lot of people the world over have suffered as an indirect result of such conniving.

Posted by R. Ulan October 5, 10 07:35 PM

My God!!!
I cannot contemplate ever living in a location such as those high-density developments. What an utter shambles and what a blight on the landscape they are!

Posted by Trevor October 6, 10 01:01 AM

Sad... so sad

Posted by Joan Carles October 6, 10 01:20 AM

Sim City? =)

Posted by Breno October 6, 10 07:11 AM

I think all the people with the negative comments are correct in their understanding of south west Florida, so stay up north and leave paradise to us.

Posted by Charlie B October 6, 10 10:01 AM

Been there - done that. Lived in FL for little over 7 years - You can have it. Moved back to New England (NH) - Kids much happier too. Different strokes for different folks -

Posted by NutCracker October 6, 10 10:33 AM

This is a big innovation for houses

Posted by emwady October 6, 10 10:49 AM

I am originally from the Los Angeles Area and moved to Sarasota in 1996 . Although I travel around for work , my family loves the low taxes and superior school system . Collier,Lee and Charlotte Counties' are basically unsophisticated farm areas with no urban plan and it was obvious to me that it was underplanned and overdeveloped . It should have been obvious to anyone .

Posted by Jeff G October 6, 10 10:56 AM

How long until another large hurricane in the vein of Katrina sweeps most of those canal/river front properties into the ocean; not long I suspect.

Posted by bhutanian October 6, 10 11:46 AM

Viendo estas imágenes, ahora comprendo porqué en las películas americanas los actores siempre encuentran sitio donde aparcar su coche. Como la mayoría de estas urbanizaciones están ubicadas en el estado de Florida, espero que el sobrecalentamiento de nuestro planeta se encargue de anegarlas en un plazo no muy lejano.

Posted by Carlos Blanco October 6, 10 11:50 AM

Vote for Rick Scott (the crook) for Governor of Florida, and you'll get plenty more where this came from.

Posted by PC October 6, 10 12:05 PM

I have been in Florida since 1947. It was a beautiful paradise. The people who came to live, back then, actually liked Florida the way it was. For many years the EPA ran the growth and was instrumental in keeping away large corporations and dirty industry. After all, what did we need (?) and did we want FL to become other than a retirement community? With low taxes, warm yr rnd weather, fruit in trees, fish in ocean and lakes who needs more. We didn't need a large police state, fire department, animal rescue (there were more animals than people), bug spraying, etc. ect. ect.. We took care of our needs and helped those who couldn't. Florida's demise started when agricultural concerns began to control flooding by digging canals. People saw that by digging canals and making lakes they could drain the swampland that supplied the water for the southern part of the state. The ecological system was a perfection that worked for the benefit of all. The Everglades collected the rain water and purified it, filled the aquifers, and pushed back the salt water from infiltrating. The Glades began at the southern end of Lake Okeechobee down the center of the state towards the west to the ocean.

Then came the farmers and the orange growers. The water needed more controlling from the flooding during the rainy season. More canals were dug and ironically the resulting lakes were used to water the crops. This still worked as the demand for water was not too high, yet. But this was the introduction of chemicals that leached into the canals, which leached into the remaining everglades, changing the environment somewhat.

Then came the people. Who demanded many services they were not willing to do themselves, as they were not involved in the community because Florida was home for only 5-6 months. They expected the City, County and State to see to their needs. That increased taxes and gave priority to the elected officials to see to the needs of the money people. They also needed young working people. The illegal and legal immigrants served the purpose and needed housing, elect. and water as well.

To make a long and much repeated story shorter, the very same things happened to South Florida that happened all over the USA. Where people want to be, money talks. One could build anywhere they wanted and got the County and State to make it not a swamp. The EPA was still working but loosing ground because now corporations were wishing to be here, again, due to low costs and availability. They had the money and the power to vote the EPA's control out and open up the area to workers who also had a different agenda and needs. In order to keep up with all the people relocating to FL in came the builders. They could pay off the Commissioners and work with the State to further drain the swamp, build houses, grow sugar and process it, supply the world with frozen orange juice.

By now, I don't think the water supply is very healthy. SE Fla. has to recycle the sewage and clean the water, fill in the sink holes with salt water, there are huge land fills all over the state (beats dumping it into the Atlantic). The builders who almost went broke (almost, the big builders got a piece of the "bailout") are already starting to build new homes again in spite of the fact FL has more empty bank owned homes than any other state. And...they are not being offered at a "reasonable" price, in order to get them sold. That's why the SW Coast of FL is more depressed that the SE Coast, as evidenced in the fotos above.

It's the same old story about what has happened all over the world. Maybe it's over population, I would hate to think it's the survival of the "richest", but it's something to think about, maybe it's because we have become complacent and allowed much of this to happen because we expected the City, County, State and Gov. to do it all for us and we didn't want or have time to get involved, so it's time to pay the piper. We do have some folks out there able to think and plan. We have an Addendum 4 coming up for approval in Nov. that will put some of the expansion back into the hands of the people. I hope this passes, it's time we took back our country, and land.

Posted by Susan Thompson October 6, 10 04:23 PM

Amazing photos, amazing!! The greed of the developers here are shown in an ironically beautiful way.

Posted by lee (UK) October 6, 10 07:04 PM

Come to Australia, beach 5 minutes away, forest 20 minutes away, work/uni 7 minutes away. We suffer from urban sprawl in the metropolis but in the smaller towns/cities, its no problem. And you don't have to be rich, just an average income. :)

Posted by Rose October 7, 10 07:58 AM

The problem with many people here is that you're putting this sprawl against "horribly packed cities" like there's no other option. Sure, Floridan sprawl is much better than living in city slums. But it's also much worse than living in a well developed area. A well developed area would have both access to some nature/greenery, and also to services/shops/stuff like that without the need to use a car.

Take a look at Europe, for example, and you'll see what I mean. Some people have been mentioning Europe as a horrible, crowded place, and I don't really know why. Have you been here? Sure, some cities are crowded, but if you ignore these few bad examples - like London, Paris, etc., most of the Old Continent is really amazing.

There's not much sprawl here, the rural communities are villages with all that comes with it - shops, jobs, cultural traditions, pubs, etc. - and you can actually WALK to these from your home.

And there's a lot of cities that are amazing examples how great quality of life you can have even in a tightly packed city. I personally can recommend Berlin, München or Wien though I'm sure there's many other great places like that. You can't really tell it from photos, you have to experience it on your own. A huge quality of life in the cities, comfortable and affordable flats everywhere, nice neighbourhoods, shops and services in walking distance, a lot of parks and other greenery, quality mass transportation, a huge support for cyclists... It's not a rural paradise, but it's amazing nonetheless.

THIS is how you should develop your land in America and any other country that has too hight population density. So please stop thinking that cities are necessarily bad. On the contrary, cities can be a paradise if done well.

Posted by Jiri Petru October 7, 10 10:54 AM
Posted by Jiri Petru October 7, 10 01:25 PM

(bleeping) urban sprawl you get what you deserve... the true meaning of the financial meltdown for years to come

Posted by Jibreel Riley October 7, 10 02:00 PM

@ 220

Those birds are in your neighborhood because their environment has been turned into cookie cutter developments.


What part of any of that up there looks 'natural' to you? If you want to see man-made nature - move to a city and look at a fountain or live on an avenue or boulevard. Oh wait, you're against cities, whoops.

Posted by Environmentally conscience architect October 7, 10 04:25 PM

It's not so much a question of whether houses are too close together or not; just no way could I live in an area with such a blatant raw geometrical planning.

Posted by Tim October 7, 10 06:38 PM

I totally agree with the comments by #314 and #315. Switzerland and Germany are exceptionally organized--but not, no never, to the extent you see in Florida, Arizona and to some extent California. Even Holland, which is flatter than Florida, and for a while had the reputation of being the most densely populated country in Europe, has loads of empty, albeit, farmed spaces. England is beautiful with its cultivated spaces. Most of Europe is far more populated than southern Florida, but centuries of development based on clusters makes it totally interesting (Uh, except some of those big cities).

Posted by Frank October 7, 10 08:45 PM

@ Rose, Comment #313:-
For God's sake! Enough with the invitations, otherwise WE will end up with the same type of crap!

Posted by Trevor October 7, 10 11:20 PM

Little boxes, on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky...

Posted by elle October 7, 10 11:37 PM


Posted by mag October 8, 10 03:24 AM

@321, Ticky tocky is right. Visited my uncle once in a gated community in FL. A truly soul-sucking experience.

Posted by Chris October 8, 10 09:21 AM


Posted by victor October 8, 10 09:54 AM

WETLANDS. I wanted to point out, if it really needs it, that all those canals and artificial lakes, etc are because the land developed was a wetland, which are supposedly protected, but not in FL. These developments have gobbled up rare and precious natural areas in one of the world's biodiversity hot spots, destroying nature faster than in the Amazon rainforest. These developers will build houses in the middle of a lake. It's amazing what you can do with dredge and fill, and amazing what the Corps of Engineers will permit. Any of you see anything that looks like a well-functioning wetland in those man-made lakes and canals? That's what the developer told the COE they'd do - build artificial wetlands that are better than what was there before. They get a rubber stamp of approval on anything, and never even try to build it. They think people want mowed exotic turf grass straight down to the herbicided water's edge. Onsite mitigation, is the official word for that.

Posted by Michael October 8, 10 12:45 PM

god save japan!

Posted by jipsy October 8, 10 03:50 PM

Hey Folks: And that includes you DIEGO:

"We have met the enemy and he is us"....what is the real underlying problem here. TMP "Too many people" (or for the cruder amongst us: "TMFP".) It is not necessarily greed or the developers or money...they all exist bit are merely the instruments by which our society enforces its will upon the world...and WE for better or worse ARE that society. And as Diego notes, this is a FREE country. So maybe before you go on with your diatribes you might want to cast your own eye inward and look into yourselves.

Posted by Chris C. October 8, 10 03:57 PM

We love our square man made lakes down here! But seriously, aerial views are a very small part of the picture. A part that I happen to like, but its hardly a basis for making assumptions on the actual buildings, lifestyles and people that live in them. Some people like paying 3 times my mortgage to live in a one bedroom apartment in a 6th floor walk up where it's either cold and snowy or hot and stuffy. I like my backyard, two car garage, 3 bedroom two bath 1940's cement block house with sunshine 90% of the time. Nothing wrong with either of them, I have lived in both of them, just different strokes.

Posted by kt October 8, 10 10:32 PM

RE#240 that was a joke(fake lake) we also know that everyone has to have a waterfront view or a canal for their boat , and if you have to drain the land or wetland to build your house wouldn't make sense to leave it the way it was created.

Posted by Richard October 8, 10 10:59 PM

artistically speaking, that are very beautiful images! I love the 17th!

Posted by Ricky October 9, 10 08:51 AM

I live in VT and like anywhere, it has it's good and bad parts. We have some of the highest property taxes, (my 290k home property taxes are over 6k per year) income taxes and cost of living in the nation. However, I live in what is considered a densly packed neighborhood and my lot is an acre, surrounded by about 500 acres of forest on the other 2 sides. I am right on a bike path with over 50 miles/2000 acres of trails through the woods and circling over 90 historic grainte quarries. In the summer I can fish, hike, bike and basically do anything else that people do in Florida. In the winter I can ski, snowshoe, or ride a snowmobile through some of the most remote and beautiful snow covered landscapes in the world. You can literally ride for an hour withouth seeing any development if you would like. In the fall we enjoy apple picking, foliage, raking leaf piles for our kids to jump in, etc. The snow and cold weather get a little old sometimes, but I don't think I could ever go without the changing of the seasons. I love VT!

Posted by Mike October 9, 10 09:33 AM

Keep Building there will only be more empty houses once the baby boomers more on to greener pastures! Then what more houses than people. Yea! I can't wait. No common sense.

Posted by October 9, 10 10:30 AM

Moved-from-mass, you're over-reacting and your use of sarcasm is tasteless. This environmental degradation caused by developed (or underdeveloped) sprawl cannot go unrecognized. We have a responsibility to improve our way of life. This article is pointing the problem - a problem that anyone educated in science will find obvious. So, if it makes you feel better, I'll say it; you're not a bad person. Soon you'll be driving a more efficient car and complaining about it as well as continuing to drink clean water from your sink because scientists and engineers have provided the technology to make it happen. They're motivated by research, surveys, journals, and articles just like this. How else do you think we developed from the use of animal power? Every stage of development going back hundreds of years from burning wood to using fossil fuels to wind energy we have improved our BTU's and efficiency. It will get better whether you like it or not.

Again, you're not a bad person. There...that should make you feel better. Go back to the Economist website and sarcastically bash against some "flaming liberals" or whatever it is you do. Thanks.

Posted by cheesehead October 9, 10 10:59 AM

Too bad we couldn't take back the invention of air conditioning, Florida would benefit greatly.

Posted by gail October 9, 10 11:36 AM

This illustrates why FL is one of the most over-developed areas in the US and has one of the highest foreclosure rates. These high density developments were not approved by voters and have ruined the value of real estate throughout the state with an estimated 300k+ vacant houses and approval for hundreds of thousands of houses already by politicians supported by developers. This is why FL voters are voting on state constitutional amendment #4 which will require future land use changes to be approved by voters of the municipality. To beat this accountability to voters Boca Raton officials have proposed changing land use on over 1,400 acres for allowing 20 housing units/acre, or another 50k+ residents in a city of under 100k. Voting Yes on 4 may be too late for Boca Raton.

Posted by Boca Raton Resident October 10, 10 06:13 AM

I live in a home that you can actually see in one of these photos. One foreclosure near me. So why is this photo here? What was the reporter thinking? It's not an example of the housing crisis at all. Now some of the empty developments, yes, that's pure greed and stupidity. But please be accurate. Don't just throw a bunch of photos in 'cuz you happen to have them handy.

Posted by joyce October 10, 10 07:15 AM

Indonesia could learn from this reality concerning the plan to build the new Capital city,relocation of governmental capital city of Jakarta (maybe ) in Kalimantan (Borneo) island . . .

Posted by A.Sayagiri October 10, 10 12:03 PM

possum (comment #239)... you're a giant idiot.

Posted by marie_y October 10, 10 11:47 PM

don't pick on just florida, lets see las vegas. i have lived in florida for over 50 years even with its faults still the greatest place in the nation.

Posted by TLD October 11, 10 11:00 AM

Political statements aside, I find it an interesting collection of images- the geometric patterns in these developments, juxtaposed with natural (or at least in nature) patterns of the glades wooded areas.
My parents live in C. FL, and let me tell you- overdevelopment is not limited to SWFL.

Posted by Carol S. October 11, 10 01:12 PM

Come check out how they develop in South Korea:

Posted by Mike Hager October 11, 10 05:42 PM

The housing boom came to an end when every person who could afford to buy a house had already bought three.

Posted by Bob Barrett October 12, 10 11:07 AM

Who thought sprawl could be so beautiful?

Thank you for the wonderful pictures.

Posted by ed October 12, 10 03:07 PM

These photos confirm to me how messed up of a state FL is. It's no wonder to me, with people living in these lifeless mazes that we hear of mothers killing their children, rampant killing sprees, real estate value collapse, hurricane devastation and a myriad of other problems. The list is just too long to continue. And it seems most of these developments are in one small part of the state. How utterly pathetic. This is no retirement or vacation paradise for me.

Posted by Nature October 13, 10 11:05 AM

Wow - what a land development/footprint nightmare. Nice use of man made lakes to catch all of that runoff from homes and polluted roadways - I hope those a drinking water reservoirs... and no opportunities to walk to anything other than a neighbor's house(or effectively use transit). Good work in planning.

Posted by Shelly October 13, 10 03:30 PM
Posted by Steve Mouzon October 13, 10 05:07 PM

What a nightmare to have to rely 100% in your car all the time to go anywhere and do stuff.

Posted by Raul October 13, 10 07:02 PM

How long I wonder before they're all underwater?

Posted by moominmama October 14, 10 12:05 PM


So you're implying that you've been wasting rent money for 20 years rathern than buying a house? Wow.

Posted by hanibal October 14, 10 03:36 PM

One wonders if Alan has ever been to Detroit...

Posted by Anonymous October 14, 10 04:29 PM

Awfull! I could never live in this places.
Artificial like no else.
This is america.
Thank You, but I will not join.

Posted by Universum Vicerosum October 14, 10 05:10 PM

Quelle horreur ! Je pensais qu'ils étaient fous de construire comme cela à Dubaï, mais je vois que cela viens (une fois de plus !) des States...
Je vis en France, et vous invite à visiter la France et l'Europe.

Posted by Danou October 15, 10 06:03 AM

Nearly all of those developments were platted in the 50's through the 70's and have been built on to varying degrees since then. Several of those listed as gated communities are actually old mobile home parks. Whoever put this together just took some aerial images and added their commentary without knowing what they were talking about. The biggest cause of the sprawl is government "planners' limiting density and height so developers can't build anything but wasted space homes. The lakes are all required to provide stormwater attenuation and treatment. Any development without lakes was platted before 1982 when Florida discovered pollution. Anyone who knows anything about land development would know these things but if you have an agenda to peddle, you can ignore the facts. Does anyone who live in a crowded city think that their way of living is better? What about the 3 feet between high rises and no green space?

Posted by BILLM October 15, 10 08:45 PM

Coming from Maine where the grass is REALLY green, I moved to Fort Myers, adjusting. While working in real estate, I do need my garmin to
get out of the developments, one wrong turn and you will burn a lot of gas.
The other thing I noticed, in Maine, people have different color doors, in FL
everything is bland in most of the developments. But, a great place to enjoy the weather!

Posted by karen moynihan October 15, 10 09:02 PM

The majority of these are decades old failed developments. Florida has learned from past mistakes. Please don't come see the beautiful well thought out eco friendly developments that we have. There are plenty of us enjoying them without you.

Posted by John October 16, 10 11:40 AM

I don't know how much a house like that costs in US. In China, a house like that values at over 2 million USD, yes ,USD. Great sigh, you Americans don't know how lucky you are to have this luxury. I live in an aprtment of 120 square meters in ShenZhen City in China, neighbouring Hongkong. It costs me 3.5million Renminbi, roughly 550K USD. Ridiculous!

Posted by NiceHouse October 16, 10 08:12 PM

Let's not forget the sustainability angle. Florida is experiencing a growing problem with below ground salt water intrusion because all of the storm run off from these roads and driveways are being dumped into the ocean instead of going into the ground water. Furthermore, Florida cities are having to build and maintain expensive water desalinization plants since well water is becoming saltier as a results. Unsustainable to say the least. And where is the money going to come from to pay for this expensive water problem? That's right, your taxes.

Posted by Mike October 18, 10 09:41 AM

how wehhnseinnign

Posted by Anonymous October 18, 10 02:46 PM

Let's not forget the sustainability angle. Florida is experiencing a growing problem with below ground salt water intrusion because all of the storm run off from these roads and driveways are being dumped into the ocean instead of going into the ground water. Furthermore, Florida cities are having to build and maintain expensive water desalinization plants since well water is becoming saltier as a results. Unsustainable to say the least. And where is the money going to come from to pay for this expensive water problem? That's right, your taxes.

Posted by Mike October 18, 10 05:44 PM

fascinating and disturbing

Posted by jason brown - abbozzo October 19, 10 10:40 AM

As an european city planner, the first thing that entered my mind: american "democracy" in working.

Posted by mrfin October 22, 10 04:22 AM

After MANY years of searching for a place to retire in FL, my husband and I finally settled on Rotonda. It was one of the LEAST congested and most nature friendly places we had found. We have been here permantely for 3 years and still find MANY natural, beautiful fishing, boating areas.
We did buy property in Arkansas for retirement but - due to the fact that ALL the jobs in NE Ohio (as well as other nearby areas) were moving overseas (thanks to our most generous gov't) - we followed our children to FL where they got jobs in the construction business. So now we feel that we are living in an environment that is being CLOSELY monitored and do all that we can to restore/keep it as pristine as possible. We are sportmen and naturalists and find that this area is doing MUCH to keep it supporting the natural environment as possible - MUCH MORE than any of the other areas we investigated.
Also I have been to Europe, as some of the other comments discussed, and yes, their cities may be crowded, but they have great mass trasnsportation; but the best is that they don't destroy their old buildings - people keep them up and they can be used for generations. No such thing as tearing them down and building new - What a GREAT RECYCLING idea - DUH

Posted by Deb October 22, 10 09:41 PM

so how can everyone live in homes with 10 acres around each of them?
- is that feasible?

Posted by tim October 23, 10 10:48 PM

In This Page: Nothing but Hipsters complaining.

I have such a dis-like of Hipsters, it's almost un-believable. Nothing but arrogant pricks who talk like they have a clue about anything. It's so enraging.

I'm willing to bet most of the people who say they are against this sort of thing, or would rather die then live in one of these suburbs to quote one of you, obviously has never lived in anywhere but one. You talk big and "intelligently", how about we put you in Afghanistan or Northern Africa for a day and then you can talk.

You'll still be wrong and arrogant, but you could talk.

-Signed sensible people everywhere.

Posted by Anonymous October 24, 10 02:08 AM

More bird's eye photos of the suburban dream/nightmare

Posted by Anonymous October 25, 10 12:08 PM

my biggest issue with urban sprawl is that much of the construction going on in these new suburbs is not needed. it is the quintessential American dream to own a piece of land, build your own home the way you want it to be, and raise a family there... but there are soooo many homes (all over the US) that sit and rot in nice neighborhoods because everyone wants to feel the satisfaction of creating a home from the dirt up. now is THE best time to buy an older home; interest rates are extremely low and the government is giving out huge tax breaks for eco-friendly home improvements. i've been in several foreclosed homes that were very nice, the only reason the owners left was because they simply couldn't pay their bill for one reason or another. i believe there is no greater satisfaction than to take an old home and give it new life.
my other issue with urban sprawl (especially here in FL) is the destruction of natural buffer zones in favor of manicured lawns and landscapes. each one of those houses has a lawn, and most of those lawns are irrigated, and most people don't understand good water management (dusk is one of the worst times to water your lawn!). i mean why the hell would you want to tear out plants that take care of themselves? no irrigation needed, no monthly insecticides, fertilization, mowing, or trimming, and it mulches itself so you never need to rake. natural FL is so beautiful in its own right, so use native plants and consult your friendly local garden center before bulldozing all those mature established plants, it'll save you lots of money and help out the environment in a big way.

Posted by annalw4 October 26, 10 05:07 PM

Google have been criticised again for collecting emails, passwords, personal details from open wifi setups while they were trawling for Street View. That was downright wrong of them and it's becoming more difficult to understand what they mean now by 'do no evil'...

Posted by Jack Kirby October 26, 10 11:09 PM

In the 70's/80's, General Development and Deltona were selling overpriced home sites (lots) in dense arrangements that totaled hundreds of thousands per development. Buyers could hire their own contractor and many northeners preparing to retire made theis a popular option. Later, developers began planning and building communities as demand was exceeding supply but this changed dramaticaly due to the meltdown. To keep control of future situations in the hands of the electorate, you should vote yes for Amendment No. 4 which will call for a referendum on any comprehensive land use change.

Posted by Marj Palmer October 31, 10 04:39 PM

It is very simple folks. Humankind is a virus slowly killing the earth.

Posted by Jackson November 1, 10 09:45 AM

They are continuing to build houses, in SW Florida, and propose new large developments. Each new house devalues the already built house that the bank owns or a family is trying to pay off. If no new houses were built for a few years, all the existing houses' values would rise. Like any resource, too much supply and not enough demand! (construction jobs alone will not sustain ANY economy!) has caused this housing problem.
A building moratorium needs to be put in place, to slow down and reevaluate the best way for people who want a house here to get a house, get one without having to build a house, while preventing the person who owns the land from losing money, by lowering taxes on undeveloped land. It seems like if you CAN build 20 houses on that acre, you're going to be charged taxes at that rate, whether you build 1 or 10 or 20! Which partially explains why the populations of those communities are so dense.
Property tax "discounts" are needed for those who develop in a lower impact way, like not draining or clear cutting an area, working with natural drainage and already existing plants, and picking good land that is build-able the way it is! Spread out houses, built in a low impact way, are beautiful, better for the native plants and animals, and more valuable in the long run. I hope someday developers will see that we all deserve that "green" space to enjoy.
There are ways to preserve the beauty of Florida, allowing all who want to come here to get away or to live here the chance to do so, and keep jobs around, which means people paying their mortgages, and an improvement in our economy. I hope we can get on that path soon! We need ideas that lead to a solution, not finger pointing. SOMEONE needs to fix things!!

Posted by SW FL transplant November 4, 10 08:58 PM

Hmmm, there are a lot of negative comments about these suburbs, but I think they're really quite nice. I live in a crowded condo in Japan. Many people here dream of having a detached house. But most detached houses here are small and have absolutely no land other than what the house occupies. You can literally open the window, reach out and touch the neighbour's house! Forget about pools, lanais, grassy yards with palm trees, docks on the canals or lakes. I wouldn't care if the waterways are man-made. I wouldn't care if my neighbour's house looks the same. I don't think I'd spend my day looking up and down the street. I'd be enjoying my lovely spacious house. I don't want to live in the countryside either, because I'm used to having convenience of shopping and restaurants, etc.

Posted by Taji November 8, 10 10:44 PM

Little boxes, made of ticky tacky

Little boxes, just the same

Posted by Wrkn November 29, 10 07:43 PM


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