Distribution Centers among the Rooftops: The Global Logistics Network Meets the Suburban Spatial Imaginary


Changes in shipping over recent decades have altered the geography of freight transportation in the USA in a number of ways. In particular, significant volumes of freight traffic are now traveling inland to the Ohio River valley and the Midwest. Within metropolitan areas here, large amounts of land on the suburban fringe are being developed as logistics or distribution centers in municipalities that are experiencing otherwise typical greenfield suburban growth. This article explores this development through a case study in the southwest suburbs of Chicago that are experiencing rapid growth in both population and freight distribution activity. Here, in a so‐called global era of placeless flows, land use and economic development continue to be based largely on a spatial imaginary of bounded and discrete territories, with long‐term environmental and economic consequences for the political units in question.