A lively history of the contested landscapes where the majority of Americans now live, Building Suburbia chronicles two centuries in the birth and development of America’s metropolitan regions.
From rustic cottages reached by steamboat to big box stores at the exit ramps of eight-lane highways, Dolores Hayden defines seven eras of suburban development since 1820. An urban historian and architect, she portrays housewives and politicians as well as designers and builders making the decisions that have generated America’s diverse suburbs. Residents have sought home, nature, and community in suburbia. Developers have cherished different dreams, seeking profit from economies of scale and increased suburban densities, while lobbying local and federal government to reduce the risk of real estate speculation. Encompassing environmental controversies as well as the complexities of race, gender, and class, Hayden’s fascinating account will forever alter how we think about the communities we build and inhabit.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Building Suburbia|
|Release Date: 11-04-2009|
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THE SHAPES OF SUBURBIA
We're in the American Dream business.
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Flying across the United States, airline passengers look down on dazzling, varied topography, yet from Connecticut to California, monotonous tracts of single-family houses stretch for miles outside the downtowns of major cities. Subdivisions interrupt farms and forests. They crowd up against the granite coast of Maine and push into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Next to residential areas lie highways, shopping malls, and office parks. They overwhelm small town centers. More Americans reside in suburban landscapes than in inner cities and rural areas combined, yet few can decode the shapes of these landscapes or define where they begin and end.
Demographers still describe suburbs as "the non-central city parts of metropolitan areas," a negative definition, but suburbia has become the dominant American cultural landscape, the place where most households live and vote. Describing suburbia as a residential landscape would be wrong, however, because suburbs also contain millions of square feet of commercial and industrial space, and their economic growth outstrips that of older downtowns. Most confusing of all, suburbia is the site of promises, dreams, and fantasies. It is a landscape of the imagination where Americans situate ambitions for upward mobility and economic security, ideals about freedom and private property, and longings for social harmony and spiritual uplift.
For almost two hundred years, Americans of all classes have idealized life in single-family houses with generous yards, while deploring th