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America’s Love of Sprawl Starts Right at the Border

Urban areas that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border have grown together, but in very different ways.
Sister cities on the U.S. Mexico border in Arizona and Sonora.
Sister cities on the U.S. Mexico border in Arizona and Sonora.Sasha Trubetskoy

Every day, students living in Juarez cross the border to go to school in El Paso. Travelers flying into the Tijuana airport can walk over to San Diego on a pedestrian bridge. Folks living in Mexico work on the American side of the border every day to earn a living in dollars. Around 350 million such people cross the border every year, many through ports of entry designed to welcome rather than ward off. Among other reasons, that’s because the U.S.-Mexico border is a boundary separating several sister cities that are, essentially, one urban and economic unit.

But while these border cities have grown together in recent decades, that growth has manifested differently for a variety of economic and cultural reasons. The difference in their urban footprints is evident in a new map, created by cartography enthusiast Sasha Trubetskoy.