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  Writing Assignment #3: The City of the Future (47 points total)   There are those that say all American cities look the same

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Writing Assignment #3: The City of the Future (47 points total)


There are those that say all American cities look the same. There are skyscrapers, cars, and perhaps a subway system. There are malls and fast food restaurant chains and the occasional playground. There are “cookie cutter” residential areas that might include apartments or condominiums, and perhaps rows of single-family homes. For these reasons it might be hard for a foreigner to distinguish downtown Seattle from downtown Denver from downtown Minneapolis from downtown Atlanta. They all look very similar. In order to build these cities, humans have flattened hilltops, channelized rivers, and established agricultural, energy, and supply systems that bring resources to the cities from hundreds if not thousands of miles away.


It has been suggested that this “one size fits all” approach is not sustainable for the city of the future, especially when faced with the unknowns associated with global climate change. Many city planners are turning to geographers and other scientists in order understand to how to design cities that take into account the environment in which they are located. For example, attractive rock gardens and xeriscapes (“cactus gardens”) are replacing water-thirsty residential lawns throughout southern California, and the city of Chicago has established a “Green Roof Initiative” with the goals of reducing summer temperatures within the city limits, mitigating air pollution, and controlling rainwater runoff.



CONTENT (32 pts)


Based on what you have learned from the GEOG 101 labs and lecture, how would you design the city of the future? What would be the ideal location for your city and why? What features would it have, and why? In writing this essay, visualize an IMAGINARY city and thoughtfully address the each of the following FIVE content areas using information learned over the course of the semester.


1) Location & Latitude (Lab 1, 2, 3, 4) 8 pts

Where is your city located? Different locations have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, coastal cities tend to have less variation in temperature, but they can also be prone to hurricanes. Cities in the mountains may have cleaner air, but mountains also come with building challenges. Inland regions tend to have a greater temperature variation over the course of both a day and the year.

What is the latitude of your city? The higher the latitude, the greater the extremes between winter and summer. Latitude is also related to insolation.

All of these factors are directly linked to the energy needs of your city as it relates to the heating and cooling of buildings. Can the use of different construction materials or strategic placement of landscape plants help to increase (or decrease) albedo at key times during the year? Are there other strategies you might consider to help control the temperature of your city?

You might also consider if your city is located in a desert (EX: Tucson), among grassland (Ex: Denver), or in a forested region (Ex: Cincinatti, Ohio).



2) Climograph (Lab 4) 6 pts

Create a fictional climograph for your city that simultaneously displays a bar graph for average monthly precipitation (in mm) and a line graph for average monthly temperature (celcius). Your climograph should reflect your decisions for #1. Describe your climograph in a single paragraph in your essay and attach your climograph to the end of your paper (this last page does not count toward the length of your paper)


3) Water Resources (Lab 6, 9) 6 pts

How will your city insure that it has a sustainable water supply? Will there be a reservoir nearby? Will you depend on a snowpack, winter rains, groundwater, or some other water source? Locating your city along a river comes with certain risks. How will extreme hydrological events such as potential drought or flooding be addressed?


4) Food (Lab 8, 10) 6 pts

It has been argued that the cities of the future will be located nearer to their food sources than they are now. Edible plants require nutrients (usually found in soil), water, and sunshine. Many (but not all) plants are sensitive to colder temperatures. The best soils on the planet tend to be near rivers, though some cultures have created terraced hillsides to create growing space in mountainous regions. If your city sees winter temperatures much lower than 0°C (32°F), then you may need to make accommodations such as greenhouses during the winter months, or perhaps you might consider changing your diet to reflect the plants that grow best in your city’s climate.


5) Energy (Lab 2, 3, 5) 6 pts

As fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, natural gas) are phased out, sources of energy such as wind, solar power, geothermal power, and hydroelectric power (dams) and other renewable energy sources will need to fill the void to supply electricity to your community. Which of these is most appropriate for your city and why? For example, a coastal city might not be the best location for solar power (because of fog), but might be great for windmills or tidal generators. Transportation is another challenge. Without fossil fuels (including gasoline), how will people and goods get from place to place?


EXTRA CREDIT: Fictional or Real? (up to 7 pts)

Identify an existing city that most matches—or has the potential to become—the city you describe in your essay. Fully explain and justify your reasoning. (An extra ½ page is allotted to students who go for extra credit)



a. Bring in two hard copies of your completed ROUGH DRAFT to lab on Dec 6/Dec 8 (3 pts)

b. Your 3 – 4 page paper (not including “works cited” or attached climograph) should begin with a clear introduction, followed by a body, and end with a conclusion that summarizes your key points. It is okay to use the first person (“I”) in your essay.

c. We will be looking for smooth transitions between paragraphs, with correct spelling and grammar. Organization of information is crucial.

d. Please use 12-point font, double spacing, 1-inch margins.



A word document with proper citation format for Labs, the Geography textbook, and lectures will be provided for you. You are welcome to cut and paste from this document! While much of this paper will consist of your own, original ideas, you should cite additional outside sources as needed (see document). You will include a “Works Cited” page as well as provide reference to your sources within the body of the text. Claiming another person’s ideas or information as your own (by failing to cite the source of the content) is considered plagiarism. All university policies regarding plagiarism and academic honesty apply to this paper.














discussion (coast, mtns, inland, latitude, insolation, temp-erature, albedo)










Climograph + Explanation










Water Resources

(source, drought/flood)










Food (type, soils, relate to climate)











(type + reason)










Format + Grammar











RoughDraft (2copies onDec6/Dec8)



Works Cited


















(out of 47):


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