The Spatial Structure of Land Use from 1970–2000 in the Phoenix, Arizona, Metropolitan Area

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This article explores the dimensions of rapid urbanization in the Phoenix Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA) over the past thirty years with respect to land use change. We devote primary attention to developing an understanding of what land transformations took place, the extent to which they occurred, and where they occurred. Our findings indicate that 32 percent of the Phoenix SMSA changed between 1970 and 2000. More than half of the overall change was from agriculture to some form of urban land use, and although a large percentage of the region remains open desert the parcels of desert are increasingly fragmented. This has significant implications for urban ecology and biodiversity. The growth indicates that rather than a pattern that reflects the agglomeration effects of a polycentric metropolis, the central business district of the City of Phoenix dominates the region. This has implications with respect to employment patterns, traffic congestion, and urban air quality and climate.

Keywords: Phoenix; land use/land cover change; urbanization

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The University of Florida 2: Arizona State University

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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