Urban fringe, sometimes also called "urban-rural fringe," is the area of land where town meets country. The urban fringe is an area most often reserved for urban-based people who wish to be closer to nature and for industries that require large amounts of open land such as airports and wind farms. The size and scope of a city's urban fringe are influenced by the agricultural needs of the society, the amount of available space, the proximity of other cities, and the value of the land surrounding it.
How Land Mass Affects Urban Fringe
The United States is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of land mass, thus creating a different perspective and cultural norm in defining urban fringe as compared to smaller countries where less land is available to support the population. Though urban sprawl is a concern in American society, it is considered much less critical than in countries like the UK, Poland or the Netherlands, all small enough to fit into just one U.S. state. Because there is so much land in the U.S., the state of the urban fringe is usually only altered or affected when cities expand so much that they are "running into" one another, or infringing upon preserved nature settings and ecosystems.
Effects of Suburban Areas
Suburbanization often occurs in or near the urban fringe. In the U.S., as a city grows and more room is needed to support the expanding population, the urban fringe also expands to meet these demands, thus surrounding large cities like Cleveland, St. Louis, and New York in vast suburban areas, thus making the urban fringe a large "ring" around the city than is itself also vast and gradual. As a city's population grows and more people move farther out, the urban fringe is often swallowed up and developed as a suburb, thus pushing the urban fringe out even further.
One of the best aspects of living in the urban fringe for the people who live there is its proximity to nature, the ability to get away from the fast pace and crowding in the city. Many cities are built in mountain valleys or near open water, and the need to preserve these lands for the population's leisure activities, wildlife and the ecosystem is extremely important. Preserving nature is more dependent on what the population demands and the land surrounding the city; cities that are not built near unusually stunning or unique topography or are less dependent on local farming are less likely to experience concerns over natural preservation.
Factors That Influence
Many factors other than availability of space influence urban fringe. The agriculture of a specific area and what types of crops are grown, how dependent the nearest cities are on this agriculture, and the needs of the agricultural system are all taken into account and will influence just how far urban sprawl is allowed. Though preserving nature is important, it is its value to the people living in that area that will influence how far urban and suburban areas are allowed to spread; if the population of that area does not value its natural spaces very highly, there will be less push for zoning laws and boundaries that would stop urban spread. As the earth's population continues to grow and housing becomes a more important factor, the nature of the urban fringe and how it is used by the population will also grow and change.
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