Arrival cities: the need for precision

In the winter of 2015 the City Builder Book Club, an online book club about cities, is reading Doug Saunders’ award-winning best-seller Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World. An interesting book about migration to urban centers around the globe with illuminations on all sorts of paths, policies, and people. I was invited to contribute a short response on chapter 10 ('Arriving in style') about migrant neighborhoods in the Netherlands (Amsterdam), Bangladesh (Dhaka) and Canada (Toronto). In this article (also available as pdf) you will find an extended response and more information on immigration policies and migrant neighborhoods in the Netherlands.

Writing a review about a book that covers many themes in even more countries isn't the most easy job. Nonetheless, it was a great joy to read the whole book for a second time and being inspired again. As a Dutchman and urban geographer - working mainly on social and housing issues - my expertise lies in issues concerning migrant neighborhoods in the Netherlands. Logically, this is also the focus of this contribution. On the other hand I also pay attention to more global matters, because there are also a lot of similarities in issues and policies. 
To understand the integration processes in the Netherlands we have to know a little bit more about the Dutch context. So first I will describe the broad guidelines about immigration policies in the Netherlands and will sum up some characteristic figures. And making, I have to say somewhat reluctantly, some generalizations. Next, I will say something about the struggle between the planned and lived city. A struggle I've encountered several times - while I was reading the book - in the different Arrival cities. Finally, I discuss the different analyses, visions and approaches for these immigrant neighborhoods. In which I plead for more accuracy and precision.
Immigration in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a densely populated country in the Northwest of Europe with 17 million inhabitants. It has a long tradition of migration. The capital, Amsterdam, for example is an ancient trading town that owes its growth and prosperity to immigration. At the end of the Golden Age, around 1700, 40% of the population was born abroad (this figure is now around 25%).
Immigration to the Netherlands (click to enlarge)
After the Second World War a lot of Dutch households from the countryside moved to cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.

In the 1960s and 1970s these cities were faced with international labour-motivated migration, especially from Suriname (former colony), Dutch Antilles (an autonomous Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands), Turkey and Morocco. In later years the numbers dropped due to restrictions on labor mobility, although there is still some immigration from these countries because of family reunification and family formation.

In the last few years migrants from new member countries within the European Union (Poland, Romania and Bulgaria) have made their appearance. Citizens of these countries are free to cross intra-European borders. Mostly these are seasonal or career driven migrations.

More information on the current immigration policies can be found in this text frame.

Immigrants make up approximately 21% of the total population in the Netherlands. About 1,8 million migrants are born abroad (first generation) and 1,7 million inhabitants have a parent that is born elsewhere (second generation). 55% of the 3,5 million immigrants are from non-western countries, with the Turkish (400.000 persons), Moroccan (370.000) and Surinamese groups (350.000) being the largest (SCP, 2014a). What can be said about the socioeconomic integration?

The second generation are making big steps on the education level. Although it is still above the average, the number of young migrants dropping out of education has fallen in recent years. More migrants are getting their degree. For example, in the academic year 1995/1996 there were 10.800 non-western immigrants registered at the university (scientific/academic education). In 2013/2014 there were 32.700. A threefold. At the universities of applied sciences (higher education) it went from to 15.300 to 64.600. A fourfold.

The unemployment rate among non-Western migrants is more than three times as high as in the native Dutch population. And they are six times more likely to be dependent on social assistance benefit. The current recession is taking its toll under non-Western migrants. Unemployment has risen from 9% in 2008 to 16% in 2012. Youth unemployment even more from 15% to 28%, especially an issue in the Moroccan migrant population (37%). The lower education level, work experience and other characteristics (courses studied, age, residential area, unemployment history) explain only a small amount of the differences in the employment rate (SCP, 2014a). Other factors might include less intensive and less effective jobseeking behavior, pre-entry discrimination, usage of the informal economy, having jobs for less than twelve hours a week (also defined as unemployment) and the lack of a good network.
The good news is that there is upward social mobility, especially under the migrants with a job. The occupational status of migrant groups has risen. Nearly 30% of the second generation in the working population have higher-status jobs, narrowing the gap with the native Dutch workforce (34%). The Netherlands Institute for Social Research says in their annual report (2014a): "The disadvantage of non-Western migrants is concentrated in the area of finding work, permanent or otherwise. Once they have a job, there are no significant differences in the shares with jobs for which they are qualified or in terms of salaries."

Female participation
This social mobility is especially underway under young women (Desmet & Sour, 2012). The female participation rate is however considerably lower among women of Turkish (40%) and Moroccan (35%) origin (native Dutch: 70%). Saunders correctly notes (chapter 9) that it is hard to enter the middle class on one income alone. Especially in the traditional Moroccan community this is a problem. A lot of the women that enters the country, thanks to family reunification and family formation (first generation), have no or little education. And most of them are expected to take care of the housekeeping and the children.  

Marriage migration
Due to the changes in the legislation there has been a sharp drop in marriage migration from Turkey and Marocco. In 2001, almost 60% of Turkish spouses in the Netherlands married a marriage migrant from Turkey. In 2012 this figure has fallen to 15%. For the Moroccan group it went from 55% to 17%. In addition to the stricter legislation there are also other reasons: weakened ties with the land of origin; an increase in available partners in the Netherlands from the origin group; less pressure from parents to choose a particular partner (SCP, 2014b).

Comparing chalk and cheese?
With this background, we now can pick up the book and look into chapter ten. A chapter about Amsterdam, Dhaka and Toronto. At first sight, every comparison between these cities (or with the other cities in the book) falls short. This is caused by differences in scale, politics, economy, income, taxes, democracy, liberties, state support, housing, spatial planning, moral and ethnic issues. So, the risk of ethnocentrism, judging another city, his inhabitants and policies solely by the values and standards of one's own culture, is always present. To understand the complicated processes of immigration we must look beyond our own preconceptions and our opinions based on experiences in our own country. To do so, one should try to understand the context in which the presented city operates. With this article I hope I give you an insight in the Dutch context. Another way to deal with this dilemma is by zooming in on the perspective of individual migrants. Just as Doug Saunders did. By telling the story through the eyes of the migrants we factor out time and place. These narratives are by far the strongest point of this readable book. We get insight into the motives to relocate and especially into the process to slowly but surely integrate into the new city life. And we see – at second glance – that these cities have more in common than expected.

In general, the immigration and settlement processes in the Netherlands do not differ much from the other countries which are described in 'Arrival City'. In this part of the world newcomers also prefer to settle near nationals or even fellow villagers. They are trying to find a fit between their own traditions (language, religion) and Dutch society. Some newcomers consider the cities a gateway and move - when they can - to the suburbs where they find new housing and more security for their kids. Others stay, root and acclimatize in the city, drawn by the ambience, the smells, amenities, and dynamics of the city. For some the urban environment works as an emancipation machine, for others the springboard doesn't work. Some rent a house in the Netherlands, and have (or save for) a house in their homeland.

Just as in other countries the last ten years have been marked by an intensive and often fierce debate about the sociocultural integration (cultural differences, role of Islam, interethnic contacts). Fifty-seven percent of the Dutch disapprove their country's handling of immigration (average EU: 60%;  US: 71%). When asked why immigrants come to their country, 56% mentioned "to seek social benefits" (EU: 41%; US: 45%). Fifty percent felt that first-generation immigrants were integrating poorly (EU: 46%; US: 51%), but 66% (up five percentage points since 2013) said that the second generation was integrating well (GMF, 2014). 
So, the integration issue give rise to emotional reactions and divided opinions. Migrants, especially the children that were born in the arrival city, are living between two worlds and experience a conflict of loyalty.  Often imposed by 'society' that thinks in groups instead of individuals. With for example the result that every Muslim is distrusted as long as he or she not publicly renounce the violent practices of fundamentalist (Ezzeroili, 2015).

An important difference with other countries is the context in which the migrants arrive in The Netherlands. 'Arriving in style' might be a bit exaggerated, but there are some certainties, privileges and advantages in the Netherlands that can make life just a little bit easier on arrival. Especially when you compare it with the unplanned arrival cities in the developing world.  Just as many other West European countries, The Netherlands is developed, properly organized and regulated from above. Maybe the Netherlands is not an open, tolerant society anymore, but on a global scale solidarity and income equalization (through taxes and allowances) are still basic principles. Government (both at the national and municipal level) is present both visible and invisible. They are taking care of utilities, infrastructure, public space, garbage collection and facilities such as schools, libraries and community centres. Although the responsibility for integration is shifted to the migrant, the government helps in general through grants, fees and assistance in for example poverty reduction. So there is a lot of social assistance and arrangements. If the arrival city in the developing world is a place where you climb the socioeconomic ladder, you can probably speak of an escalator in this part of the World.

Housing system
The orderliness and intervention from above is also present in the way housing is managed. A lot of - what are now - the arrival neighborhoods were built between 1960 and the mid-1970s as an answer to the enormous housing shortages. The State played an important role in organizing and financing these middle-high and high-rise buildings on the outskirts of cities. Housing production had to be optimized by reducing the variation in dwelling types, repetition of construction patterns and using new construction techniques. In addition, these new living areas were characterized by the separation of functions and by straight lines and open spaces. This in the tradition of the CIAM movement philosophy in which the modern architect had the task of supporting and creating a new, modern, and egalitarian society, where everybody was equal.
In countries like France, Sweden, Germany, Britain and The Netherlands the majority was built as public housing, though definitely not in its least expensive segments.

Another main characteristic is that a third of all dwellings in The Netherlands is owned by housing associations (Amsterdam 47%; Rotterdam 48%; The Hague 36%). These non-profit organizations are responsible for - among other things - letting houses to ‘low’ income households (under 34.000 Euro = 42.300 US dollar), older people and people with a disability. In contrast to many other countries, people aren't embarrassed if they live in social housing. Regular and daily maintenance is regulated by law. And so is the rent, which is capped and depends on the quality of the housing.

The planned versus the lived city
In other words: planning, organizing and social engineering abound in the Netherlands. Besides the advantages there are also a number of drawbacks. When so many things are organized and settled, citizens can get somewhat spoiled/complacent, causing some to sit back. But more importantly due to the level of regulation there is (or there seems) less room for small, spontaneous initiatives that can respond faster and are cheaper and better suited to the ever-changing needs of city dwellers. So, the escalator falters sometimes.  

In this context the story of the Dutch Somali is interesting. A considerable part of the Dutch Somali community experienced such high levels of coercion, limitation, and deprivation of liberty in The Netherlands, that they decided to migrate to Great Britain. According to them the Dutch migration policy is so patronizing that migrants are not stimulated to develop themselves or to show any initiative with regard to education or labour participation. This in contrast with the British situation where economic activity is less constrained by rules and laws (see also chapter one). Research (Van den Reek & Hussein, 2003) shows that "the Dutch regularized welfare state seems irreconcilable with the character of the Somali. In countries like Australia, the United States, and Great Britain, with their more liberal economic systems, the traditionally nomadic participants obviously feel more at home. The Netherlands, with its 'over-organized welfare state' does not seem to be a suitable country for all migrants." The Somali also experienced pressure toward assimilation. In their eyes, the Netherlands is a country which values tolerance in theory, and is in a way progressive, but this is not the case when it comes to migrants. In England they can retain their cultural identity.

This conflict can be summarized by the distinction between the planned and the lived city, a struggle that you see in more European countries and which also surfaces in the book on occasion.

In practice it is not so clear-cut. Both worlds influence each other constantly. But a lot of the discussions on urban issues can be reduced to these two personal preferences. Wouter Vanstiphout (2011), professor of Design and Politics at the Technical University Delft wrote a wonderful article about the riots in Paris (2005) and England (2011) in which he nicely sums up this contrast:  “I do not think that […] politics and planning have realized their limitations to shape society. I think […] that urban politics and hence planning and urban design are too often treating the city with ulterior motives, instead of actually working for the city itself. The city has become a tool to achieve goals, political, cultural, economic or even environmental. Treating the city in this way means that we are constantly passing judgment on what the city should be, and who should be there, and what they should be doing, instead of trying to understand what the city actually is, who really lives there and what they are doing. This produces a dangerous process of idealization, denying whole areas, whole groups their place in the urban community, because they do not fit the picture.”

Giving space
That being said, Saunders has a point when he mentions that arrival cities in the Netherlands were planned from above (outside) for far too long. Most of the time planners, politicians and policymakers think they know what is best for the city and society. An immigrant neighborhood that grows organically, evolves over time, deviates from 'the average' and benefits from an informal economy goes against the grain for most urban planners. The challenge is to find - at each scale - the right balance between government interference and personal responsibility.

Precise analysis
These differences in perspectives already arise when trying to answer the question on how to rate an immigrant community. The book 'Arrival City' shows that this tussle is not unique for the Netherlands. In many countries there is a disagreement about (1) the analysis, (2) the vision and (3) the preferred approach.

First let's take a look at the analysis. The starting point is usually a statistical equation. But how far should one zoom in? Should you look at national, regional, metropolitan or neighborhood figures? Or do you follow the individual outcome (via inter- or intragenerational mobility)? Should you compare countries or cities with each other on the same reference date? Or do you compare these figures through time? Should you compare your district with the urban average, or with a similar district in another city?
These questions (and answers) have quite some influence on what conclusion you will draw from your analysis. For example, if you look at the Netherlands from a distance (in time and scale) you see the same upward social mobility for newcomers as we saw among the native-born population after the Second World War. The sons and daughters of the first generation of immigrants are doing much 'better' than their parents. This is a positive trend and one should conclude that the process of social mobility is therefore a matter of time (and generations) . But if you zoom in on some individual events  (the  murder of a filmmaker in Amsterdam, conscription of Jihad fighters in different Dutch cities) and the fierce debates and indiscriminate public opinions in both media and the political arena, your conclusion will be less positive for the integration issue.

Clear vision
On a neighborhood level I often miss a good analysis of the function of a neighborhood in a city (or region) and an approach consistent with that role and identity. Saunders makes a good point that many settlement strategies don't recognize (or even destroy) the rural-to-urban dynamics at work. Too many politicians are after short term results and forget to look at the bigger picture. Making use of the wrong statistics and applying their own housing needs on a neighborhood. Doing no justice to the function of these springboard or gateway communities. The main issue is that too many people don't understand the paradox of arrival cities (see also chapter three). Neighborhood statistics say nothing about the career of a single household. To explain this I always use the metaphor of a primary school. Every year 'dumb' kids come in and 'smart' kids go. But the school remains just as smart (or dumb). So, there is nothing wrong with this school, so why interpret an arrival city differently?
Saunders sums up this issue very well when he is describing what kind of place Thorncliffe Park (Toronto) is: "It is, depending how you view it, either a successful antechamber to urban life or a place of dangerous isolation and poverty". That is exactly the bone of contention. None of them are true, mostly it's a mix, but in most (political) discussions there is no room for nuance. As a consequence every supporter or opponent of arrival cities seeks his own statistics, stories and incidents to support his or her opinion.

In short this is what happens in many discussions and confusion of tongues:

For or against exclusive (immigrant) neighborhoods?

The different views on the matter should play an important role in the discussion about the future of these neighborhoods. But we don’t reflect enough on these choices. We glance over short-term problems and solutions without taking into account the bigger picture. In my opinion we choose uniformity (urban average) over variety too often. We should focus more on the function and identity of a neighborhood in the city or region. We should encourage differentiation in lifestyles and facilities. Dare to choose and speak out that there is nothing wrong with a selective in- and outflow. This requires some political courage. Or in the words of Edward Glaeser (2011): “A mayor who can better educate a city’s children so that they can find opportunity on the other side of the globe is succeeding, even if his city is getting smaller.

Effective approach
According to the tenth chapter, you might carefully conclude that Toronto (Thorncliffe Park) and Dhaka (Karail) are on the left side of the diagram and Amsterdam (Slotervaart, Bijlmermeer) on the right side. Obviously, in reality this is a lot more nuanced. That is also not the point I want to make. Even though I have my preference, one is not automatically better or worse than the other. I plead for a more thoroughly analysis. In which problems aren't trivialized and opportunities aren't ignored.
So, after a thorough analysis, it may well be a logical decision to demolish some houses and build houses for the middleclass. Because there are migrants who want to move to a better house within their neighborhood. Or because the conditions of the buildings are too poor. Or when there is a high vacancy rate (as was the case in the Bijlmermeer: in 1985 around 25% of the apartments were unoccupied). However, I am less in favor of this physical approach when it is only meant to rearrange the neighborhood into an average neighborhood. Then it is watered down to the point where it is neither fish nor fowl.

Let's go back to the metaphor of the primary school. To function well, it is important that this 'school' is properly equipped with good teachers and a leak proof building. In my opinion that is exactly the task of governments and social institutions: to keep the emancipation machine working. Sometimes this means physical adaptations to the housing stock, but mostly it means supporting social processes. Language skills are the first priority. This is the starting point for each career. Fortunately, in recent years Dutch municipalities have invested a lot of time and money in evening classes for adults, mentoring projects, preschool facilities where kids as young as two and a half years old can learn the Dutch language and policies aimed at reducing school dropout.

The above-described social housing system is - in my opinion - one of the reasons why migrants can 'arrive in style' in the Netherlands. But the book really got me thinking. Maybe Saunders has a point when he (constantly) refers to the advantages of home ownership. The problem however is that too many people in the Netherlands can't effort a mortgage (to low-income, to expensive house) or have other priorities. Saunders argues that you need to have both a free market with private property and a strong and assertive government willing to spend heavily on migrants. From a global perspective the first is less present in the Netherlands and the second - although decreasing - all the more. 

Another essential part of government policy, next to language proficiency or home ownership, is to prevent that immigrant neighborhoods are (becoming) isolated. There should be accessible pathways to the city around it. One of the problems in the Bijlmermeer (Amsterdam) was the unfinished character of the district. A lot of ideas and planned facilities, like public transport (but also stores and spaces for sport and recreation) were not realized because of lack of finances. The Bijlmermeer became, instead of a city district with the appropriate level of facilities, a satellite town of Amsterdam without good transport links to the centre of the municipality.

Finally, the government should focus on education in general. Labour market disparities are caused mostly by differences in education (opportunities). An effort which should not be limited to the arrival cities. The goal is optimum opportunities for development, regardless of race, income level or family history. That is true, because all citizens are equal. But if you want effective and efficient policy you should also take into account to some extent the differences. Especially on the neighborhood level one should recognize that libraries, schools with adult education, meeting places and small, cheap business properties are of greater values in migrant communities than elsewhere.

Photos by Theo Baart - part of the book Territorium about the (new) Bijlmermeer (Amsterdam)

The City Builder Book Club is an online reading club that aims to foster deeper understanding of how cities work. This winter the Centre for City Ecology and Cities of Migration are joining forces to bring you an engaging online discussion of Canadian journalist Doug Saunders’ Arrival City.

This article is also available as pdf.


De Nederlandsche Bank (2013) Migrant remittances run into billions. Amsterdam.

Gabriël van den Brink & Dick de Ruijter (2013) Culturele kansen. Amsterdam.

Els Desmet & Annemarie Sour (2012) Succesvolle Haagse YUEP-vrouwen. Den Haag.

Laila Ezzeroili (2015) Ben ik ook Charlie? Volkskrant, 10 januari 2015.

Edward Glaeser (2011) Triumph of the City. London: Pan Macmillan.

Gerben Helleman & Frank Wassenberg (2004) The renewal of what was tomorrow’s idealistic city. Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer high-rise. In: Cities, Volume 21, Issue 1, Pages 3–17.

Gerben Helleman (2014) Arrival City. Blog Urban Springtime.

Gerben Helleman (2011) To be or not to be? Blog Urban Springtime.

GMF - the German Marshall Fund of the United States (2014) Transatlantic trends; key findings 2014.

Dick Lammers & Wouter Reith (2011) Jong spreekt jong: het leven van jongeren in de Schilderswijk. The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

Esther van den Reek & Adan Igeh Hussein (2003) Somaliers op doorreis. Tilburg: University of Tilburg.

Regioplan Beleidsonderzoek (2014) VluchtelingenWerk IntegratieBarometer 2014. VluchtelingenWerk.

Doug Saunders (2010) Arrival City; how the largest migration in history is reshaping our world. Windmill books.

Paul Scheffer & Han Entzinger (2012) De staat van de integratie. Amsterdam/Rotterdam.

Paul Scheffer (2010) Het land van aankomst / Immigration Nations. Amsterdam.

SCP - the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (2014a) Annual Integration Report 2013 (with English summary). The Hague.

SCP - the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (2014b) Marriage migration in the Netherlands (with English summary). The Hague.

Wouter Vanstiphout (2011) Back to normal? Building Design Online. 

Loïc Wacquant (2004) What is a ghetto? Constructing a sociological concept. London: Pergamon Press.


  1. Chapter 10 of Saunders’ Arrival City book challenged my traditional knowledge and beliefs about how to plan urban setting effectively, how government can properly allocate services and infrastructure, and also to how we as outsiders generally come to perceive arrival cities inadequately and improperly. Throughout the book, I battled with the idea that many of today’s contemporary arrival cities still operate in subpar conditions despite many of them being situated near or within the most advanced and modern metropolises worldwide. I questioned how an area such as Thorncliffe Park could operate as its own unique city space despite being within the parameters of the larger Toronto region, or how such an area could remain as a poor neighborhood for such prolonged amounts of time, as surrounding areas continued to prosper. Although echoed throughout the entire book, Chapter 10 of Saunders’ Arrival City really affirmed for me the answers to these questions. The arrival city is by no means an extension on the edges of the original city, but it is rather a unique and multi-dimensional area that serves to define the social, economic, political, and cultural makeup of the entire city itself. In their attempt to become accepted by the larger city and society, arrival cities are actually re-defining how our entire cities as a whole come to operate and function. In this essence it becomes crucial to not emphasize a contradiction of cultures but rather embrace a ‘de-planning’ notion that seeks to allow new arrivals to thrive from the unique flexibility that their arrival city communities offer them. Flexibility in the physical design, politics, business and social networking of the arrival cities is what sparks innovation and encourages mobility of all forms- social, economic or political. In knowing this, government needs to be looked upon to act not as an authoritative decision-maker but as an opportunity-maker, who can provide the tools to encourage support. Initial investments made by government to spark spontaneity or density within arrival cities can ultimately pay dividends through the social capital gained or violence avoided. What I find has been overlooked by government, as Saunders’ mentions, is that arrival cities may not necessarily be in need of massive redevelopment or modernization, and that the simplest of services, such as street lights, buses, or the building of five story buildings with storefronts, actually have the most priority and benefit within arrival neighborhoods. Instead of making judgments or enforcing policies from the outside, governments can become actively involved in providing the support to ensure neighborhoods don’t become places of fear or isolation. As in the case of Bogotá, there is also no reason to procrastinate in building spaces for arrival, even if the arrival citizens haven’t come yet. Ultimately, urban migration and city arrival is in full force worldwide, and the ability for cities to succeed in accommodating these incomers hinges on the decisions made by government today.

  2. The point to be emphasized throughout this chapter is that urban neighbourhoods should be permitted to grow, change, and develop functions as their residents’ desire, without restriction on usage, intensity or change. As Saunders’ notes, “It is, as each family’s experience shows, an accumulation of people who want more than anything to become an accepted part of the whole”. The emphasis is that neighbourhood need to be spontaneous, organic and flexible in order to promote the city life of city people. When given privately owned spaces an access to the street, it gives the community a sense of self-surveillance and security. In this sense, the arrival city is not simply adding itself onto the edges of the city it is defining the social and economic makeup of the city itself.

    At this point in the novel, it is evident that rural-migrants who arrive in cities need the help of the state, but what is most important for the success of arrival cities are the tools to become normal urban communities. Simple additions, such as sewage, garbage collections, paved roads, public transportation, and streetlights, can serve to make a tangible difference in both the security and property value of the area. While these additions tend to require upfront investments by the municipality, there is not doubt that many of the most successful instances of slum-development projects (such as the Brazilian favelas) come as a result of expensive but reliable rebuilding and social services endeavours. In this sense, arrival cities don’t necessarily require massive redevelopment, but rather stable support from the state to provide new migrants with the right to self-determination and a clear path to the middle-class.

  3. Ashley de Vries7 April 2015 at 12:39

    This chapter of Arrival City shifted my understanding of successful urban development of arrival cities, and the means of achieving success. A key component of transformation is working with the successful components of the arrival city from within the arrival city, rather than imposing management techniques from the outside that are based on the distinctly different needs of non-arrival cities. Most importantly, Saunders’ emphasizes that while there is not one clear-cut “solution” to the issues facing arrival cities, these areas and their inhabitants should be provided with the tools necessary to create success for themselves for generations to come.

    The concept of “de-planning” in Slotervaart is interesting because, as is mentioned in the book, this approach is by no means traditional in urban planning. The traditional low-intensity, highly-zoned approach has clearly been unsuccessful in neighbourhoods populated mostly by migrants, so the approach taken in Slotervaart is appealing in its opposition to that tradition. Saunders’ suggests that spontaneity and flexibility are contributors to successful urban neighbourhoods. This relates to this larger idea that arrival city neighbourhoods should not be managed from the outside, but allowed to develop and change on their own, governed by the people inhabiting the space.

    In the arrival city of Karail, on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, it is clear that they need outside help to build the infrastructure for necessary amenities, and to be given the tools to achieve success as a self-governing arrival city. In the example of this arrival city, Saunders returns to a theme from throughout the book, that arrival cities are impoverished and fail in certain areas because of the fact that outsiders misunderstand them, leading them to receive improper aid, or to simply be ignored or destroyed.

    A key perspective I take away from this chapter is the importance of realizing the potential of the arrival city and its value when allowed to succeed and flourish. Governments must realize the value of the arrival city in order to find them worth the cost of aiding them in becoming successful. Their value can only be understood when governments understand their function, how they work, and what they need to be successful. Saunders concludes that their success “will work only if we stop ignoring those awkward neighbourhoods on the edge of town”.

  4. David Pepkowski7 April 2015 at 12:42

    Cities have a way of reflecting the human creative imagination. In Doug Saunders’ tenth chapter in Arrival he begins by discussing the Dutch neighbourhood Slotervaart. The planning of the area seemed ideal. An example of how life could be. Ironically, what made the plan seem so perfect is also why it didn’t work. That plan for the “Garden city” is in itself an expression of imagination and spontaneity. The problem is that creativity in the plan translated into a stagnant reality. The neighbourhood was strictly zoned and inorganic. It could only be perfect for a moment. Soon the neighbourhood is realized to be undesirable. People who can leave it will. It becomes a destination for only those who have little other choice. This can be manifested in having a high immigrant population. It can be many of the same group migrating for the same reasons as the Moroccans who moved to the Netherlands. This resulted in an unintentional segregation. The subculture that developed was something new. It wasn’t a consequence of heritage. Rather it was a consequence of growing up and living where no one wanted to live but most importantly in the Netherlands it was a place that was not Dutch. Enclaves or neighbourhoods with higher concentrations of immigrant or otherwise specific cultures can exist without issue. Canada can be cited as a good example of this. It is important that it becomes part of the city. In a sense that is what a city really is; a high concentration of different people, places, and things all interconnecting.

  5. When discussing chapter 10 of Doug Saunders’ Arrival City, one of the important perspectives that I have taken away from this focus upon the timing of a city’s success and it’s overall potential. It also ties into the planning of urban settings which detail many factors throughout the chapter, some of which include infrastructure development, resource distribution and allocation along with economic advancement. An important aspect that was evident throughout this chapter by Saunders included the development of the middle class and the effect it can have upon the quality and development of a city as a whole. These factors seemed to be dependent on property ownership and those belonging in the lower class finding a way to improve themselves in terms of the lower income denominator. In chapter 10 of Saunders’ Arrival City, it is mentioned that he feels cities are not necessarily in need of a massive development but more in need of simple infrastructure within the city consisting of common factors throughout many cities. Some of these factors that have been referred to include storefront businesses such as convenience stores, street lights and public transit buses. This seems to be more needed instead of the implementation of policies by the government as it helps in the everyday functions of a city.

  6. This chapter of Arrival City talks about three arrival cities, Amsterdam, Bangladesh and Toronto. Within Amsterdam the chapter starts with Mohamed Mallaouch who moved to Slotervaart, Amsterdam and speaks of it as a place that was perfect when he originally arrived. That there were apartments and shops to work, and many public squares. Throughout this part of the chapter there were problems within the city, not many people spoke Dutch and everyone was cut off from everything. There was no one around that was helping children learn Dutch and no real reason that the children would have to learn it. The arrival city was filled with satellite dishes coming from all the apartment buildings.
    This part of the chapter greatly bothered me. That Doug Saunders was describing an isolated area of the world and insinuating that because Mohamed was living in an isolated community that was only connected through their satellite dishes that it fostered radicalism. This is a mainstream idea and though it did happen in this specific instance, it is not something that happens in every isolated community. The way that it is projected in this specific area of the chapter it gives the wrong impression about radicals and where their beliefs are fostered.
    The second part of the chapter is set in Bangladesh and speaks about an island that Saunders describes as inhabitable. He found the gateway to this arrival city between two high-rise buildings. The island has high rent costs but it is close to really good jobs. This is important to the people of the arrival city because it helps them make money to pay the bills and save.
    So far in the novel I have been thinking what made Saunders choose the people he speaks about? Is it the people who have the hardest struggle and have come out on top? Another question I have is are the stories that these people tell the norm for everyone or are they better off than others? I question these things because it seems that for the most part through out the novel the people that are spoken about have stories of them overcoming very hard situations. If more stories were offered about the people who live in these different arrival cities it would have allowed for a better well rounded representation of these arrival cities around the world.
    The last part of this chapter is about the arrival city in Thorncliffe Park, Toronto. This place has for generations been the place that people have moved to urbanize and save money and then continue on to other homes and areas in Toronto. This recently has decreased, there seems to be less people moving out of Thorncliffe Park and are for generations staying. There are all types of dialects that are spoken and it is a way that other people from other cultures come together to help each other transition into a new country.

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  10. you post explain everything I need to know, thanks


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