Hayden reveals seven basic landscape patterns that have brought us to the present, from nineteenth-century utopian communities and elite picturesque enclaves to early twentieth-century streetcar subdivisions and owner-built tracts to the vast postwar sitcom suburbs and the subsidized malls and office parks that followed. Few readers will see suburbs in the same way again. Praise for this book: Whereas most successful guides make the foreign more familiar, Dolores Hayden tours us through the familiar landscape of American suburbia and, with great verve, makes it more foreign--much more diverse, complex, and important. Ordinary suburban homes, neighborhoods, and communities suddenly yield new insights into our past values--and future possibilities.
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While I was more familiar with much of the post-War history discussed, I still learned a bit about some of the shady techniques used by the developers of tract housing, such as building relatively dense suburban communities with septic tanks to avoid spending money on proper sewer systems.
Did you know that Levittown was built without septic tanks or sewers, but rather outdoor cess pits? Although the book is well documented with endnotesmany of which cite secondary sources such as Warner, Longstreth, Stilgoe, etc. Although the book is well documented with endnotes—many of which cite secondary sources such as Warner, Longstreth, Stilgoe, etc. In many ways, this conflict parallels the theme of negotiation between company town managers and employees that Alison K.
Whether it be socioeconomic exclusion in 19th century streetcar suburbs; redlining, racial covenants, or physical walls used to exclude African-Americans from the mid-century sitcom suburbs, or imbalance tax codes that leave single women out of home ownership in the edge node developments of the s, Hayden does not shy away from exposing inequalities espoused by both corporations and government agencies throughout American history.
On the other hand, Hayden also demonstrates environments of negotiation: where the economic bottom line of companies and lifestyle preferences of employees seek a balance. But unlike other academic and journalistic works, she suggests that the past suburbs are themselves the alternative solution to the problem of sprawl. Although this idea is not fully flushed out here in the conclusion of the book, it does demonstrate a more constructive view of addressing the American paradox of largely condemning but also preferring suburban housing.
I had no idea how to take a bus until I was a teenager and then still got confused. Lucky for me, my urban mother moved me to the city when I was a teenager and I escaped its grown-up clutches. Maybe because of that, I go back to that suburb and find sweet things to muse about almost every time.
Suburbia has its many detractors. It has few supporters. She does seem to understand them, which of course is the first step to changing them. I had no idea. But now I do. I can roam the old cities I see and find the patterns from "borderlands" Ohio City in Cleveland to the Garden District in New Orleans , "picturesque enclaves" oh my Lakewood for sure to "streetcar suburbs" my current neighborhood of MidCity New Orleans and so on.
Builders not necessarily developers in every case were the main actors, we all know that but not always for the reasons you would think, is her argument. The communitarian movement, women needing to find paid work and so on. Another round of applause for how she incorporates what has been written before. How can you write about suburbs and not mention the brilliant "Crabgrass Frontier"? Well worth it. Well designed. Just like some suburbs.
REVIEW: Hayden’s “Building Suburbia”
Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000