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“Smart Growth” vs. “Growth Management”

January 6, 2011

Google Labs has developed a tool it calls the Book NgramViewer, which allows a user to search Google’s book archives over a specified time period for the appearance of specific words or phrases.  Among other things, this tool can be used to compare the frequency of use of two terms that have been used in different time periods to describe essentially the same thing, or words describing two technologies, where one is in the process of supplanting the other (like “radio” and “television”).

In an example of there being nothing new under the sun, the chart above shows that, while we may think of the “smart growth” movement as being relatively new (and indeed the use of the term didn’t start to take off until about the mid-1990s), the issue of managing growth has been with us since at least the 1970s, the era of the shopping mall and the suburbanization of retail.

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