a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage

suburban sprawl as a reflection of the american dream. privacy, mobility, choice, now.

author of a field guide to sprawl, building suburbia

intersection of gender, social and racial biases. political and economic incentives.

during the 2000s, >50% of US population lives in suburbia, as opposed to rural or urban

key takeaways:

  • throwing away neighborhoods, to build ones that are profitable for certain players (developers)
  • today single persons dominate. not families. unit of exchange is ‘resell value’
  • tax code as a predictor of how city format will develop. subsidies of hiways. accelerated depreciation. subsidies for fast food….
  • national and political complexities of green fields and growth
  • mumfords and jacobs trying to solve inner cities without studies the competitive alternatives (suburbia)
  • people do not let go. after the children leave, does not happen. people do not want to let go of their houses. social ties.
  • reward greater density

key trends and terms:

7 suburban landscapes:

  1. borderlands – mid 19th century. take farm, make a cottage out of it. women works herself to death, 10 children. rewards in heaven. lawn mower (invented in hartford, CT)  for men. growth machine farmers selling, steamboat owner getting people to buy, books and landscape gardener supplies make money
  2. Communities. let’s do this together. e.g llewlyn park. architect also does town for followers of Charles fourier, communitarian socialists. closed, gated communities. wealthy, racially segregated.
  3. streetcar suburbs. people want to leave tenements, toxic settings next to factories. triple deckers. much smaller, sam gross developer in chicago, whtiney in boston. hope for immigrants after they do well. developer does transportation first, sells lots, in morgage lending business as well. 1880s.
  4. 1900’s. sears robeck pre-cut houses. catalog. no plumbing, foundation, electricity. aggressive marketing. speculators, automobile. 1920s real-estate it gets into politics. money follows power. tax and mortgage (1913). government appraisal projects. 20’s and 30’s some people think otherwise. planing for jobs. energy. tagwell in Roosevelt government in WPA. model suburbs. in england garden-cities. tagwell thrown from government because of developer pressure, and becomes governor of puerto rico. in 1920 standards for electrical outlets were written so that more plugs, more applicances will be sold
  5. Sit-com suburbs. Levitttowns. hamden, ct. 1950’s post WWII. veterans and fmailies. 7 units to acre. government programs. developers are republicans. no communist social planning. no sewer system (expensive), no schools, but yes to pools. residents have to tax themselves for communal goods. TV in everyhouse. GE advertises the good life. sell appliances. racial. only white male get mortgage. street names, flowers. natural names, no nature. but great for victims of house shortages of depression. no alternatives. no person who has a house and lot can become a communist. levitt, no union workers. mortgage subsidies. mortgage interest tax deuction. good for the reach. up to 2 homes up to $1m. 100 billlion in tax today. good for the rich. bigger houses, bigger mortgage, families are smaller.
  6. edge cities or edge nodes, scatterization. developers do commercial spaces as well, 1960s. tax code for commercial real-estate in green spaces. incentives for big box outside of cities, beyond levittowns . architect: victor gruen. drive to lunch syndrome. no pedestrian circulation, street as convoy of motor vehicles. less in NE, more in midwest and west. more jobs there. where do you live when you work at an edge-node?
  7. rural fringe. another 20 miles. live in ‘rural’ and drive at 5am fast to work. affects working hours, waking hours. back to the borderlands. larger estates again. fastest growing part of america. will it persist. homeoffice, telecommute. two partners commiting to sevral nodes, energy costs? train?

repair, older suburbs. retrain local builders, builders who consume them as well. renovation which include houses for teachers and firemen who could not afford them. past factories, close to train station.

the burnhan building , irvington NY

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