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The ghost town without ghost

“Ghost town” in geography refers to the cities in a high vacancy rate, uninhabited, and complete dark at night, which make people shudder because of the environment. When many people first saw such news, they believed that the government waste labour, supplies and capital in building those cities are not necessary but only to realize the rapid growth of GDP.

However, after a long period of investigation, Wade Shepard, a travel writer, put forward a completely different view. He believes that the appearance of “ghost town” is the result of the multi-dimensional interaction of markets, demographic characteristics, urban planning and local culture, rather than the unilateral situation.

Shepard argues that in the past few decades, a large influx of rural population into cities has greatly boosted Chinese urbanization. Based on an assessment of the pace of urbanization, urban planners expect that there will be a larger urban population in the future, so it requires expanding the urban space to accommodate these newcomers. However, the mere enlargement of the city area horizontally is not enough to meet the urbanization needs. When people are concentrated in a certain area (usually the old city or downtown) and do not want to work and live in a new urban area, “ghost town” comes into being. Some scholars also believe that “ghost town” is caused by many factors. The Irrationality expenditure and the blind pursuit of performance by the local government, together with the speculative attitude of locals and developers, have created such a phenomenon similar to the bubble economy.

In others, the main activities and business are concentrated in the core area, while it is lack of popularity elsewhere. Those new cities only have the outer form of a townspace without the deeper planning of all elements to develop sustainable economic, social and cultural activities. In fact, the new towns not only require a sufficient and reasonable infrastructure, but also need planners to think about the everyday life from a citizen’s view. For example, most people concerned more about the incomes and the development prospects in those regions.


School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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