The Rise of the Aerotropolis

John D. Kasarda in The Next American City:

SchipholAcross from Schiphol’s passenger terminal, one finds the World Trade Center, which contains conference facilities as well as the regional headquarters of such firms as Thomson-CFS and Unilever. Two five-star hotels adjoin this complex. Within a ten-minute walk is another complex of class-A office buildings that house financial and consulting firms which serve the aviation industry. Clustered along the A4 and A9 motorways linking the airport to downtown Amsterdam are large business parks for companies in industries that make intensive use of the airport, such as telecommunications, logistics, and distribution. With the airport and its immediate area serving as a multimodal transportation and commercial nexus, a new economic geography is taking shape: property near the airport commands premium office rental prices for the Amsterdam area, even above those in Amsterdam’s central business district.

Schiphol is but one example of how major airports are beginning to drive business siting and urban development in the 21st century, much as highways did in the 20th, railroads in the 19th, and seaports in the 18th. As aviation-oriented businesses cluster at and near major airports, a new urban entity is emerging: the Aerotropolis. Similar in shape to the traditional metropolis of a central city and its commuter-heavy suburbs, the Aerotropolis consists of an airport city core and an outlying area of businesses stretching fifteen miles along transportation corridors.

More here.