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Ridiculous density

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What's crazy is everyone talks about Hong Kong being really dense, but Macao is more than three times more densely populated! 6571/sqkm vs. 21,224/sqkm

 

EDIT: just looked at aerial views of both, and there is a lot of green space in Hong Kong, which probably means that their populated areas are much more densely populated.

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Yeah I was about to comment on that. A very large percentage of Hong Kong's land is not developable due to extreme hillsides.

 

And yes, those photos are from a set documenting Hong Kong's public housing estates in an abstract manner.

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Wasn't Kowloon Walled City one of the most dense areas/structures before it was demolished?  Google pictures of that place when you get a chance.

 

God almighty ... crazy ...

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My mom got me this book, http://cityofdarkness.co.uk/, for Christmas this year. It's incredibly interesting and documents not only the city but many personal accounts of people who lived their lives there.

 

It actually functioned quite well despite having no governing body. Crime did occur, but not anywhere near the level you'd expect. Probably the most exaggerated experiment in unregulated city building ever to happen.

 

If you have the funds to pick up the book (apparently it was around $250 for the special edition my mom got me) I would definitely get it. One of the most interesting documentations I've ever read. Plus there are hundreds of photos that you can't find anywhere else.

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I've seen pics like that from Malaysia and Hong Kong, too. Definitely Asia.

 

Had to be.  I can't see anyone else on Earth accepting that level of density without basically going crazy.

 

"Personal space" is a cultural thing, Americans' preference for more is a big driver of sprawl.

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No.

 

That level of density is found on nearly every continent. North America (and hte US) is no exception. NYC is denser than Hong Kong. Think of how many people live in Manhattan at an average density of over 70,000 ppsm. SF is the same density as Hong Kong (though it's more evenly spread out over the land area). Vancouver is the nearly the same density as Hong Kong and most would say Canadian culture is pretty interchangeable with American culture. And 100,000 people live on Vancouver's Downtown peninsula which is only a handful of square miles. Just as many endless towers as many Asian cities. Mexico City is about that same density as Hong Kong.

 

And go look at European densities. Or Middle Eastern densities. Or African densities. About the only continent it doesn't exist on is Australia. Hong Kong's density is hardly this anomaly that can't be found anywhere else outside of Asia. As far as Asian densities go it's not even that dense. It doesn't even come close to cracking the top 50 densest cities in the world.

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^ Part of the problem when comparing population densities is where borders are drawn. That's really the only reason Hong Kong places low on the list while suburbs of Paris place high. In my experience, Asian cities are much more dense in the areas people actually live, while they may have a lot more public space, unusable hilly or swampy land, and land devoted to industry. They tend to have much smaller apartments and larger household sizes than any place I've visited in the US. San Francisco may get close because of the unique housing situation they have gotten themselves into. I think there's a huge cultural difference concerning personal space between Asian and most Western countries, the US and Canada in particular. Whenever towers like those pictured above exist in the US, they tend to be home to mostly empty nesters or young individuals/couples, whereas the same size unit in an Asian country might house a family of 6 -  multi generational families are likely a big contributing factor.

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There's definitely a lot MORE places of high density in Asia, but the point I was making is that this level of density is not unique to Asia like E Rocc claims in this thread and several others.

 

Plenty of large cities have densities similar to Hong Kong or far greater densities. Hong Kong is dense, yes, but that's hardly atpyical. And that type of density isn't only found in Asia. It just takes on a different form in Asia where it's usually clustered in highrises that all look identical with larger public spaces between those developments.

 

If the argument was that this type of housing development prominent in China was unique, then yes, that's objectively true. But the resulting density is not.

 

And that statement can be made inversely about the US. Places like the Upper East Side of Manhattan have well over 100,000 ppsm and are completely different from the form that type of density takes on in Asian cities. That doesn't make the density itself unique. Just how it manifests itself in the built form.

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What's crazy to think is that on a whim that lease could have been signed for 200 years (and Macau's), and the whole history of that area would be totally different.  It's unclear what the situation actually is, but it appears that private property owners retain ownership of a similar character under China that they enjoyed under the British and under Portugal because Hong Kong was permitted to keep using its preexisting constitution. 

 

Also, what's really weird is that China considers Taiwan to be a territory just like Honk Kong or Macau, even though it doesn't have any actual legal claim to it, and it of course operates as a completely independent country.     

 

 

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Also, this huge bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau is taking shape:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong%E2%80%93Zhuhai%E2%80%93Macau_Bridge

 

You can see it under construction right now on Google Earth.  It's connecting the two cities via the Hong Kong airport, which is famously built on an artificial island.  I don't really know what Macau is like, but I bet whatever charm it had is being destroyed by rapid development, and this link is going to accelerate that. 

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Also, this huge bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau is taking shape:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong%E2%80%93Zhuhai%E2%80%93Macau_Bridge

 

You can see it under construction right now on Google Earth.  It's connecting the two cities via the Hong Kong airport, which is famously built on an artificial island.  I don't really know what Macau is like, but I bet whatever charm it had is being destroyed by rapid development, and this link is going to accelerate that.

 

This post confuses me a bit, as Macau is already notoriously devoid of charm and over-developed at historic levels.  It is the single most densely populated territory on the planet and it isn't even close, dwarfing Hong Kong (and Singapore, and Bangladesh, and any other high-density autonomous or semi-autonomous area you can think of).  There are quite literally zero arable plots of land on the entire peninsula.

 

The gambling industry on Macau is typically likened to Las Vegas on mega-steroids, and in my personal experience, it is one of the grubbiest and least charming places on Earth.  The concept of rapid development destroying Macau is on par with the concept of the three-point line destroying basketball, in that the debate would only have been worth having half a century ago.

 

If anything, Hong Kong is the only area at risk of losing any 'charm' at the hands of this bridge, as it has significantly more undeveloped land and its population density is less than a third that of Macau.

 

Edit: its' to its

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There's definitely a lot MORE places of high density in Asia, but the point I was making is that this level of density is not unique to Asia like E Rocc claims in this thread and several others.

 

Plenty of large cities have densities similar to Hong Kong or far greater densities. Hong Kong is dense, yes, but that's hardly atpyical. And that type of density isn't only found in Asia. It just takes on a different form in Asia where it's usually clustered in highrises that all look identical with larger public spaces between those developments.

 

If the argument was that this type of housing development prominent in China was unique, then yes, that's objectively true. But the resulting density is not.

 

And that statement can be made inversely about the US. Places like the Upper East Side of Manhattan have well over 100,000 ppsm and are completely different from the form that type of density takes on in Asian cities. That doesn't make the density itself unique. Just how it manifests itself in the built form.

 

Of course it's not found "only" in Asia, but of course it's more common there.  Any living arrangement is a mix of many considerations, positive and negative of varying strengths.  Density is less of a negative in Asia than other places, it may not even be considered one at all.

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Just as a statement of the obvious in response to statements that no one actually made: When making pro-density arguments in the US, especially in places like Ohio, do not use or evoke pictures like that.  Ever.

 

I took a few pictures of walls of tiny balconies on something like that scale when I visited my then-new inlaws in Mumbai.  And cranes were all over the skyline; Mumbai is/was already huge and is still growing, and packed in tight--picture all of NYC in a space about one-eighth the size of Cuyahoga County.  (Alternatively, picture more than 150% of the population of the entire state of Ohio on a space that size.)  Wikipedia puts the density at third in the world for cities at 32,400, behind only Dhaka among the megacities (10M+) and behind only Dhaka and tiny Hyderabad overall.

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^ Part of the problem when comparing population densities is where borders are drawn. That's really the only reason Hong Kong places low on the list while suburbs of Paris place high. In my experience, Asian cities are much more dense in the areas people actually live, while they may have a lot more public space, unusable hilly or swampy land, and land devoted to industry. They tend to have much smaller apartments and larger household sizes than any place I've visited in the US. San Francisco may get close because of the unique housing situation they have gotten themselves into. I think there's a huge cultural difference concerning personal space between Asian and most Western countries, the US and Canada in particular. Whenever towers like those pictured above exist in the US, they tend to be home to mostly empty nesters or young individuals/couples, whereas the same size unit in an Asian country might house a family of 6 -  multi generational families are likely a big contributing factor.

 

I've spent a lot of time in Tokyo and you are right. Most of the new apartment/condo mid to high rises in the US and Canada are designed to be "luxury" housing. Even though they look as impressive as towers being built in the Far East they house a lot less people. The density in a place like Tokyo compares to New York but there's nothing in Europe or the rest of North America that has a super dense feel.

 

That being said, poor urban cities, places like Cairo, Dhaka and Manila make Tokyo and Hong Kong feel like Omaha.

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Just as a statement of the obvious in response to statements that no one actually made: When making pro-density arguments in the US, especially in places like Ohio, do not use or evoke pictures like that.  Ever.

 

I took a few pictures of walls of tiny balconies on something like that scale when I visited my then-new inlaws in Mumbai.  And cranes were all over the skyline; Mumbai is/was already huge and is still growing, and packed in tight--picture all of NYC in a space about one-eighth the size of Cuyahoga County.  (Alternatively, picture more than 150% of the population of the entire state of Ohio on a space that size.)  Wikipedia puts the density at third in the world for cities at 32,400, behind only Dhaka among the megacities (10M+) and behind only Dhaka and tiny Hyderabad overall.

 

Your point is correct (but only when targeting areas technically defined as cities), but your numbers are way off.  The population density of Mumbai is over 53,000 per square mile, which still lags behind Macau's at over 54,000 per square mile.  Macau is technically a Special Administrative Region of China, but in reality it is essentially a single city situated on a peninsula that is only 11 square miles.  Now the size of Hyperabad (251 square miles) dwarfs Macau - you were accurate in calling it relatively tiny, but you still included it on the list instead of Macau because it is technically defined as a city by its national government. 

 

The point I'm making here is that comparisons of population density are dramatically shaped by how we choose to define what gets included in our lists.  The borough of Manhattan has a population density of over 71,000 PSM at night, before swelling to almost 170,000 PSM as people commute in on weekdays.  If we simply compared Mumbai to NYC according to Wikipedia, however, we would be comparing Mumbai's 53,000 PSM to 26,000 PSM for all five boroughs.

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Just as a statement of the obvious in response to statements that no one actually made: When making pro-density arguments in the US, especially in places like Ohio, do not use or evoke pictures like that.  Ever.

 

That's kind of where I was going but you kept your point more specific.  "Density" is a relative term and there it is taken to levels that we would never accept.

 

It's kind of like what's acceptable on mass transit.  Ridership like the NYC subways during rush hour would send all but the most resolute GCRTA riders sprinting for the car dealership, while if MTA workers literally tried to shove riders into trains like happens in Tokyo, they would likely wind up on the rails.

 

Density is a condition that people have various personal affinities or aversions towards, and IMO it's grouped culturally.  Possibly even genetically.

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I won't go to the genetic level.  It's a little too conveniently correlated by circumstance for a genetic explanation.

 

But either way, the reverse is true, too.  There is definitely such a thing as too little ridership on a mass transit system, and too low a density for a given infrastructure buildout.

 

EDIT: Also, I do wonder what the rent would be in one of those Asian megatowers of microunits if one were SimCitied into existence in the middle of San Francisco.

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I won't go to the genetic level.  It's a little too conveniently correlated by circumstance for a genetic explanation.

 

But either way, the reverse is true, too.  There is definitely such a thing as too little ridership on a mass transit system, and too low a density for a given infrastructure buildout.

 

EDIT: Also, I do wonder what the rent would be in one of those Asian megatowers of microunits if one were SimCitied into existence in the middle of San Francisco.

 

LOL it might crash the software.

 

The genetic level would come from people bothered by density migrating to less dense spaces, there to marry and reproduce.  And so on and so forth, as America was settled by Europeans.  More like natural selection than anything else.

 

It would explain why density decreases as you go west, until you get close to the Pacific.

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Eixample is amazing.


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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Barcelona is amazing. Great food, culture, weather, and transportation. Plus the catalan chip-on-the-shoulder is perfectly suited for a midwesterner from Ohio.

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I won't go to the genetic level.  It's a little too conveniently correlated by circumstance for a genetic explanation.

 

But either way, the reverse is true, too.  There is definitely such a thing as too little ridership on a mass transit system, and too low a density for a given infrastructure buildout.

 

EDIT: Also, I do wonder what the rent would be in one of those Asian megatowers of microunits if one were SimCitied into existence in the middle of San Francisco.

 

LOL it might crash the software.

 

The genetic level would come from people bothered by density migrating to less dense spaces, there to marry and reproduce.  And so on and so forth, as America was settled by Europeans.  More like natural selection than anything else.

 

It would explain why density decreases as you go west, until you get close to the Pacific.

 

Except that even the eastern seaboard of America was almost fully agrarian until the Industrial Revolution.  When the Founding Fathers traveled to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence, it was America's largest city--with a population of about 40,000.  Parma, Ohio today has 80,000.  Tons of migration to America and across America happened before the Industrial Revolution, and then tons of those same exact people (or their descendants) migrated to cities, then still later a large part of those people migrated to suburbs.  That's why I don't buy any kind of "genetic predisposition against density" arguments; both when we were more spread out and when we were more compressed, people moved in large numbers for economic and lifestyle opportunities.  Nothing genetic explains the rise of Detroit (or Toledo, or Youngstown, or Gary, or Flint) and nothing genetic explains its fall; it is completely explainable by economics and politics, with no independently operating genetic component.  Occam's Razor.

 

Similarly, at least until maybe 50-100 years ago (and really even today), the U.S. and Canada had highly genetically similar populations.  Yet our land use patterns are still pretty different.  And while much of Canada is barely inhabitable, they still have plenty of land that they could sprawl outward if they really wanted to.  They chose different paths and got different results.

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barca is a great place to visit -- everybody should get there at least once! same for hong kong too.

 

 

-- here's an interesting density blurb re mexico city & salt lake city:

 

 

Due land value gradients, block size in the unplanned city generally shrinks toward the center.  With planned cities, the opposite pattern is often seen, due to a tendency for grid-makers to overscale city blocks at the outset. leaving too much space too far from the street grid (a decision compensated for, in some places, by the introduction of alleys).  Mexico City and Salt Lake City were laid out centuries apart, but in both cases a clear transition toward much smaller blocks is evident beyond the original gridiron as the economic picture came into clearer focus and the benefits of narrower blocks became more evident: in Salt Lake City (below right), from 720'  to 380' square blocks, and in Mexico City from blocks 270' wide to 120' wide:

 

MexC_SLC+blocks.jpg

 

 

more:

http://oldurbanist.blogspot.com/2012/01/city-blocks-spaces-in-between.html

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That's an incredible image.


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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