Suburbanisation in Los Angeles


SUBURBANISATION: This is the physical growth of areas on the fringes of major cities because of more and more people moving in suburbs.

Los Angeles as a ‘donut city’

Los Angles was booming with industry in the centre of the city with all sort of manufacturing firms e.g. car, steel and tyres industries. Then the city de-industrialised i.e. secondary industry died down and there was a growth in tertiary and quaternary sector. As many of these industries were footloose i.e. can be located anywhere they choose to be located on suburbs because there was big greenfield sites which had fewer planning regulations. This left the centre derelict and full of migrants, unemployment and crime. So that is when suburbanisation took place. Today this hole has been filled with TNCs as a way of attracting people back into inner cities.

So why did suburbanisation occur  in Los Angles?

One of the reasons this has happened because access to the fringes of cities had been improved and increased due to the construction of highways and most importantly the popularity of  CARS. To a certain extent the creation of  the electric tramway have also helped encourage suburbanisation. This meant that now people could live is quite and peaceful areas while gaining the economic benefits of cities e.g. working in cities, shopping in cities etc.

Push and pull factors are the crucial reasons why the introduction of motor vehicles and electric tramways had such a major impacts. In the table below I have put together push and pull factors of urban areas like Los Angles.

Urban Push

Suburban Pull


Cheaper land for larger properties

Declining Jobs – because there was a change in economy (decline in manufacturing and increase in services) and it appeared to be that average incomes were higher in suburbs 

Accessible – electric tramways/cars and higher personal mobility because of this. Before fuel was relatively cheap making commuting less expensive. The government had made large investments in transport services.

High Land rents

Large shopping centres

Fears for safety

Better schools and services

Businesses were looking for greenfield sites – there are huge land masses in suburban areas and fewer planning regulations

More open spaces

Crowded housing 

Low density, single family housing 

Congestions and overcrowding

Safer neighborhoods

Poor schools and services

So where to some of these migrants move to?

  1. Anaheim 
  2. Irvine
  3. Ontario

Problems of suburban sprawl:

  1. Time spent travelling meant that there may be no time left for family and friends
  2. Communities may only exist at night time – dormitory settlements
  3. Congested highways = more air pollution
  4. Loss of some of the best farmland 


1. What is suburbanisation?

2. What left L.A. with a hole in the middle? This was why it was called ‘donut city’.

3. What has now filled the hole?

4. Explain two urban push factors.

5.Explain two rural pull factors.

6. Where did migrants move to i.e. names of suburbs?

7. Suggest three problems of urban sprawl

8. Define a megacity

9. Define megalopolis 

10. Define urban agglomerations 


1. Suburbanisation is the physical growth of suburbs due to increased number of people moving to suburbs.

2. Deindustrialisation

3. TNCs

4. Pollution – factories causes air, visual and noise pollution and high land rent rates due to high demand and high land prices.

5. Accessibility – electric tramways and motor vehicles made this possible and better schools and services 

6. Irvine, Anaheim and Ontario

7. (i) Dormitory settlements (ii) increased air pollution and congested highways (iii) loss of some of the best farmland.

8. A City with a population of 10 million

9. A large urban area with several metropolitan centres

10. An extended city of town e.g. urban areas spreading out into suburbs 

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