Childhood Asthma: Causes of Occurrence

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60%-70% San Diego expanded rapidly after the second world war, spreading people across miles of land that were once nature preserves and farmland. Highways were designed and built to move people to the edge of the sprawl but created a path of destruction that is still being dealt with today. The development of the highways changed the landscape and communities it divided forever. San Diego needs to redevelopment and integrates a new master plan that will bring life to the urban core and start to heal the damages done by the placement of the freeways. Through cultural studies, we will see the damage highways have created with the segregation of neighborhoods, the tearing down of colored neighborhoods and separating them from the development of the cities. Through medicine, we will see the effects of urban sprawl on a community and we will see the health effects of living near freeways compared to open space. This project will begin with an in-depth look into how freeways tore apart neighborhoods and separated cities, urban sprawl, and the health effects of both urban sprawl and freeway pollution on the human body. The outcome of this project is to provide a solution to San Diego on how to improve neighborhoods, communities, and lives.

If San Diego densifies the existing core by taking advantage of available unused space in the city, then the outward spread of people could be slowed, the city would become healthier, and San Diego could bring people back closer to the urban core. America has a long and shameful history of placing ill-conceived freeways through—almost always—low-income neighborhoods populated greatly by people of color. These projects have destroyed and displaced whole communities created “scars” that are filled with traffic and separated neighborhoods from the development of the city. In 1956 the federal government passed the ‘Highway Act’ which would create 41,000 miles of interstate. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, a vast increase in cars began to clog to the new suburbs The federal government poured money into the brand new interstate system, cities undertook highway project that went directly through their downtown area. It presented an opportunity for city planners to clear out “slums” and open land for the highways. In the process, bulldozing thousands of homes and businesses.

Cities saw this process as a success since the neighborhoods being destroyed were in need an urban renewal. The displacement of people from these neighborhoods caused a downward spiral for neighborhoods near the freeways. Streets became less walkable, reduced foot traffic made businesses leave, and overcrowding and crime went up. These factors accelerated the decline of urban neighborhoods and accelerated urban sprawl. The development of the highway created a new probably that affected even more people and continues to affect people today. Traffic poluttion effected every with .2 or .3 miles of a highway. According to the Health Effects Institute who published an review of evidence that was put together by a panel of expert scientist. They concluded that “traffic pollution causes asthma attacks in children, and may cause a wide range of other effects including: the onset of childhood asthma, impaired lung function, premature death and death from cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular morbidity.” The most vulnerable were children and teens, and another study found that people with asthma and diabetes were more likely to be affected as well.

Other studies found that premature death, heart attack, and dementia risk increase if you are located closer to a highway. The development of the highway has led to the separation of communities and the poisoning of residents near the highways. Baltimore is a great example of how highways divided communities. West Baltimore is an exceptionally bleak area in an extraordinarily poor, overwhelmingly black American city. Racial divide runs deep here, a segregation of opportunity, class and even life expectancy. In the middle of this blight stands a monument to failed city planning: a giant scar that splits West Baltimore into north and south. Officially named State Route 40, it was originally intended to be an important part of a proposed east-west freeway presented as crucial to the city’s growth. This gigantic project upended hundreds of lives, transformed an entire landscape and cost tens of millions of dollars. The locals call it the “road to nowhere”. The six-lane highway that connects west Baltimore to downtown offers no use to the neighborhood it divides and is barely used. The communities on both sides faced went from middle-class neighborhoods rundown ghettos. In the development of highway 40, they lost residence, churches, and businesses. Detroit, like Baltimore, also suffered interstate projects that destroyed African American communities.

The town of Black Bottom was a vibrant, dense area in a prime location just north-east of downtown, however, with the decline of the auto industry, the neighborhood started to decline as well. The neighborhood became one of the first casualties in the grand “Detroit Plan”. “Freeways, hospitals, universities and housing developments were planned and built, creating radical changes to the city fabric, including the destruction of vast amounts of housing to construct Route 10 and I-75”(the guardian/ road to nowhere) In the development of the freeways that run all over San Diego, the city planners took into consideration the problems that they saw Los Angelos having, and cities across America, they witnessed the city being torn apart. Jacob Dekema who was in charge of designing, building, and overseeing the highways in San Diego, he wanted to hide San Diego’s freeways in our canyons and valleys and minimize the damage to views of sky and sea, canyons and bluffs.

Unlike some of his peers, he did not view concrete freeways as civic monuments to heroism. Unfortunately, the freeways still divide multiple communities within San Diego. When the 5 freeway was installed in San Diego it upended, demolished, and ruined neighborhoods along the way. Demolition of sections of neighborhoods segregated neighborhoods from development and growth that the rest of the city experienced. We have the 5 freeway which was built in the 50s that is now the outline of downtown San Diego. In the Process of it being built Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, and Little Italy were split. Barrio Logan was split by the 5 and the Coronado bridge and portions were rezoned for industrial use. Sherman Heights was split from East village by the 5 freeway and Golden Hill by the 94 freeway.

It became a hub for immigrants as the wealthier residents left. Over the years, as homes were converted to apartment buildings, absentee landlords let their property deteriorate, and with vacant land near the highways, Sherman heights became an attraction for criminal activity. Little Italy was also a neighborhood that was split by the 5. The community was once a vibrant and walkable city where generations grew up but the placement of the 5 split the community in two. The neighborhood was destroyed, people left and the area was avoided until the early 2000s. 

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Childhood Asthma: Causes of Occurrence. (2022, Oct 05). Retrieved June 16, 2024 , from

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