This first full-scale history of the development of the American suburb examines how "the good life" in America came to be equated with the a home of one's own surrounded by a grassy yard and located far from the urban workplace. Integrating social history with economic and architectural analysis, and taking into account such factors as the availability of cheap land, inexpensive building methods, and rapid transportation, Kenneth Jackson chronicles the phenomenal growth of the American suburb from the middle of the 19th century to the present day. He treats communities in every section of the U.S. and compares American residential patterns with those of Japan and Europe. In conclusion, Jackson offers a controversial prediction: that the future of residential deconcentration will be very different from its past in both the U.S. and Europe.
Jackson fluctuates between seeing suburbs as symbiotic and parasitic, with parasitism dominating recent decades. He sees suburbs as a drain on cities, offering very little in return. He appears completely hostile to the car, which is his primary villain in 20th century suburbanization, as it combines mobility and status. Yet he sees hope for the future as land and construction prices go up. Although most of his analysis has become the standard, his predictions have not held up as well. Twenty years later, suburbanization continues with little change in sight.
Very interesting and depressing reading; published in 1984, Jackson makes some predictions about the future of suburbanization that, a quarter-century later, have mostly not been borne out, though they haven’t been disproved either.
It is an interesting read (however, that is a subject that I truly love, so take this review with a grain of salt)
The writing is a little dry, can't really expect much from it, but it was very informational and makes me want to move out of the suburbs and despise it more =)