In this episode, we talk about suburbia: what it is, how it came to be, its impact throughout many different time periods, and why it tends to suck.
We’ll also touch on what’s happening now that we’ve fallen out of love with suburbs, at least compared to our many centuries of obsession with them.
- Why Suburbia Sucks
- Similar but different: market towns
- A bit about the history of London, 1900 to WWI (the entire history of this city is actually incredibly fascinating, if you don’t mind a longer read)
- Also: History of the London Underground
- Interwar suburban expansion in England
- The Growth of the American Suburbs in the 1950s
- Interesting: Levittown: The Archetype for Suburban Development
- Relevant: Commuter Town
- Also: a modern day, Big Data-informed commute map of the US
- It’s important to understand how massive a shift occurred in the decades following WWII — this Wiki does a pretty good job of outlining the economic consequences (it’s notable that this era is also called ‘The Golden Age of Capitalism,’ and the ‘Second Gilded Age’), and this one provides a larger overview of what else is happening at the time (including some reasons that people might have been so enthusiastically consuming, rather than paying closer attention to what was happening outside their neighborhood)
- A very brief summary of the National Housing Act of 1934, and here’s some comically dated (and casually sexist) propaganda from the time-period about it
- Oak Ridge, Tennessee (one of the Manhattan Project sites)
- US Interstate Highway System (and how the numbering system works)
- White Flight (and how it continues today
- This is a really dense, official read on the subject, but if you’re looking for an in-depth post-mortem on how a multitude of things, but particularly white flight, the development and perpetuation of slums by slumlords (who tended to be white), and the bias of the FHA to give loans to white people, but very seldom to black people led to to ghettofication of parts of some cities, it’s worthwhile (more on this can be found by looking into the findings of the Kerner Commission)
- The Garden City Movement
- Regarding China’s planned cities
- Also: a list of planned cities
- Surveying the Ghost Cities of China (and what one of them, Ordos, looks like from the ground)
- How Phoenix Housing Boomed and Busted
- Planned Economy (also called a ‘Command Economy’)
- Also: a board game based on the challenges of shopping in the Soviet region is banned in Russia
- Relevant: Dead Malls and Disconnected Suburbs, How the Cold War Shaped the Design of American Malls, and an alternative to mall-centered neighborhoods
- Also: Dead Malls (and photos of them)
- Some folks talk about the American Dream and a definition of McMansions (and: Let Them Eat McMansions!)
- What Would Our Homes Look Like If Designed Around How We Use Them?
- Suburbs and the New American Poverty
- Decaying Infrastructure Costs the US Billions Each Year, and a very-related article about contaminated drinking water in US suburbs
- The Awesome But Ridiculously Old Technology That Runs NYC’s Subway System
- Some reasons the US became so car-dependent compared to Europe
- There is such a term as ‘automotive city,’ and it applies to a shocking number of US cities, and newer cities around the world
- Thankfully, there’s also ‘new urbanism,’ which is a counter to automotive cities, and is being implemented in big ways and small around the world
- For instance: Barcelona
- When I mention suburbs and planned communities often lacking the ability to change with the times, a term I wish I had used is ‘urban resilience‘
- How the Commute to Work Differs Around the World
- Singapore has an incredibly fascinating history, if you’re looking for a good read
- Developers have figured out the secret sauce for gentrifying neighborhoods
- Tactical urbanism
- Also: The Multilevel Metropolis
- CO2-eating cement, if autonomous cars ruled the world, 3D printing, and farmscrapers
- Urbanization stats
- More about your host, my list of books, and my contribution page
- My YouTube show, Consider This
- The Let’s Know Things Facebook page
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Big thanks to The Minimalists for featuring this episode on their (splendid) podcast! If you found my show through them: welcome!
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