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Stop Sprawl
1998 Sierra Club Sprawl Report: 30 Most Sprawl-Threatened Cities

Ten Most Sprawl-Threatened Small Cities
Number Three: Pensacola, FL

From 1990 to 1996, Pensacola's urbanized land area has exploded, growing from 174 square miles to 337 square miles, a nearly 95 percent increase.

Northwest Florida has always been considered - and has always considered itself - separate from the rest of Florida: It is unique in its culture, natural habitat, and remoteness to central and southern Florida. But the Panhandle has witnessed explosive development in the 1990s that has spawned "growing tension between economic growth and the old Panhandle way of life" ("Choices," Matt Moore, Florida Trend, April 1998).

In the same time period, the area's population only increased from 270,000 to 280,000. Those 10,000 new citizens of the Pensacola metro region overlay a land area increase of 163 square miles, which translates into roughly 63 people per square mile. Compared to Pensacola's 1990 population density of 1,551 persons per square mile, this new growth pattern epitomizes sprawl.

All the telltale signs plague Pensacola. A Wal-Mart Supercenter of 183,000 square feet employing 450 people now sits along the "once tranquil" Highway 98 in the Pensacola suburbs where small, locally owned and run shops had thrived for generations (The Palm Beach Post).

Until recent years, the economies of Pensacola and other northwestern Florida towns were tied to tourism and the military. Ironically, though, in the last 10 to 15 years, businesses have relocated - and continue to do so - from South and Central Florida to the Panhandle to escape urban sprawl. These businesses have brought additional economic opportunities to the Panhandle - but at a cost. Pensacola is fast growing and fast sprawling.

Read the Report | Clickable Sprawl Map | Sprawl-Threatened Cities

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