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Step Twin Cities? Exploring Uneven Spaces in Waterloo-Cedar Falls Business Landscapes

Authors: Natalia Khortseva*, University of Northern Iowa
Topics: Urban Geography, Development
Keywords: Uneven Development
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In November 2018, the 24/7 Wall Street Journal published an article that called Waterloo, a city in Black Hawk County, Iowa, the worst city to live for Black Americans among all US cities, based on several indicators. This news was disheartening for the local community because it revealed persistent unevenness of development in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo metropolitan area.
There are various ways to interpret urban disparities. One of them is to examine uneven development, which focuses on the asymmetrical power relations and accumulation of capital. This Neo-Marxist approach defines uneven development as “asymmetrical capitalist social relations of production across geographic space at varying scales (hemisphere, nation, region, urban area, etc.)”. Uneven development can be studied at different scales, but still, there is a lack of studies of uneven development in medium-sized or smaller cities.
The goal of this study is to improve the understanding of geographical and socio-economic reasons for uneven development in two twin cities - Waterloo and Cedar Falls, Iowa. The methods of this study include measuring residential segregation by applying spatial indexes and analysis of perceptions and understanding of uneven development of two cities by Waterloo and Cedar Falls small and medium-sized local business leaders and public officials. The study focuses on business owners and public officials because they are the people who are in charge of making decisions about city development and affect the city environment more, than other people living in that area.

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