Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Urban and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Urban and Public Affairs, PhD

Committee Chair

Imbroscio, David

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Negrey, Cynthia

Committee Member

Simpson, David

Committee Member

Farrier, Jasmine

Author's Keywords

new urbanism; community advocacy; social equity; ahwahnee principles


This dissertation examines two paradigms aimed at restoring urban vitality-- grassroots neighborhood revitalization and New Urbanism. New Urbanism is comprised of progressive goals, but unfortunately the relevant literature suggests that these goals have not been achieved. As such, this study focuses upon the degree to which each of these paradigms, New Urbanism and grassroots revitalization, may impact social equity on a spatial level. This dissertation explores this through a comprehensive micro-level comparison of two neighborhoods in Louisville, Kentucky- Clifton and Norton Commons. Clifton is an activist urban neighborhood that has been revitalized in recent decades, to become one of Louisville’s most vibrant urban neighborhoods. Norton Commons is in many ways the prototypical New Urban community, in terms of affluence, suburban location, and density. This dissertation focuses upon spatial social equity specifically as it relates to providing access to daily essentials for people of all income groups. Previous research on New Urbanism’s relationship with spatial social equity can be pieced together looking at things such as housing costs, location within metropolitan areas, and to some extent, business presence. This research is important because of its complete synthesis of all elements of spatial social equity, and the resulting findings. The findings ultimately question New Urbanism’s ability to address spatial social equity, given its weak performances in the following areas: access to affordable housing, consumer goods access, access to employment, and transit-orientation. This opens the question as to whether New Urbanism’s ideas about spatial social equity might be better achieved by fundamentally different strategies, such as grassroots urbanism.