Discussion Choose one: Discuss the link between suburbanization and the car. What are the pros and cons of suburbanization and car dependency? Provide

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Choose one:

Discuss the link between suburbanization and the car. What are the pros and cons of suburbanization and car dependency? Provide specific examples of the socio-economic impact and environmental impact of suburbanization and the car. 


Identify and describe the main characteristics of suburbs as highlighted in the resources from the modules. Provide specific examples from your own personal observations, from media, or from your own experiences.


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Discussion posts need to be supported or backed up by information from the readings, lectures, etc. — this includes response posts!!!!!!!MAKE SURE TO USE ATTACHED SLIDES.

This is a posted article: https://www.kcet.org/history-society/what-we-gave-up-to-become-suburban

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Homogeneity; uniformity

Cookie-cutter homes, “artificial”

The “suburban” way of life and social class


Social activities

Job prospects


6 Factors for Postwar suburban boom

1. Gov’t. policies

Directly subsidized suburban growth

VA loans made mortgage loans available to veterans at low rates

Loans obtained with no money down and 25 year repayment schedule

Prior to this, mortgages commonly required 50% down, for 5 years with a balloon payment at the end

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program

Made loans to non-veterans

Gov’t guaranteed housing

Loan banks started competing to provide loans to middle and lower mid class families that otherwise would have been ignored

Required communities to be “homogeneous areas”

Reinforcing the ideology of racial segregation


Gov’t subsidized out-movement

2. Gov’t subsidized out-movement

Financed the construction of a system of metropolitan expressways

Interstate freeway system – greatest public works program in the history of the world

Federal gov’t. paid 90% of construction costs

City mayors pushed to have the freeways cut through their cities in order to bring shoppers downtown

Brought people in but also allowed people to move out and drive in


Cities could not annex

3. In eastern and N.E. sections of the country, almost all land within legal boundaries of the city had already been developed by 1950’s

Most obvious and most overlooked factor in explaining suburban growth

Most established cities couldn’t annex, all additional growth of the urban area would have to be suburban growth

Most available open land, by definition was suburban


Cheaper housing cost

4. Cheaper cost of housing compared to central cities

City housing shortage, rising costs

New families went to suburbs not to escape the city but because of cheaper housing costs

Taxes were generally lower, initial front end cost of housing were frequently lower and easier to finance


Demographic changes

5. Demographic changes

Marriage boom, post WWII

Baby boom

Postwar = approx. 10M new households were created

New city housing had not been built in decades, existing housing overcrowded

Young couples with children forced toward suburbs

Not welcome as renters in city apartments

Could not afford city houses



6. Preference – space, privacy, independence

Survey data show decisively that most Americans prefer the newer single family houses on their own lots; commonly found in suburbs

Cookie cutter homes, “little boxes all in a row” – still a cheaper, faster way to build single family homes


Categories of suburbs:

Ethnic and religious variation

Suburban ethnic enclaves

High income suburbs

E.g. Beverly Hills, OC

Characterized not by housing style but by lifestyle and demographic patterns

Affluence is the main factor


Profile of suburban dwellers:

Nuclear family

Husband, wife, 2-3 children, a pet (usually a dog or cat)


Skilled worker, some education

Owns at least one car


Exclusive suburbs:

Gated communities

Not strictly retirement areas

Self-segregated areas

Fortress mentality to ward off crime and protect property values

Gates serve as a symbol of who belongs and who does not

Some gated communities are very restrictive; Homeowner Association rules and restrictions


Common Interest Development

Common Interest Development (CID)

Most gated communities are CID’s

Not all CID’s are gated

Private, self-governing, HOA fees, rules

Amenities: parks, pools, community/clubhouse buildings, gym

Often socially segregated, homogeneous communities


Working class suburbs

Working class suburbs

Movement due to jobs

The changes in the economy, losses in suburban industrial and manufacturing jobs cause working class suburbanites to commute far


What is the myth of suburbia?

Ranch style housing

Community, Church going folk

Neat lawns

Narrow minds


Good schools

Clean, safe neighborhoods;

A small town atmosphere

Overscheduled parents and children


The myth of suburbia…

The myth is this: The belief that there is, in fact, a uniquely suburban way of life.

Upon moving from the city people transform into:

Friendly neighbors

Democrats become Republicans

The reality is:

suburban voters tend to vote on the basis of issues rather than party (e.g. Barack Obama won the suburban vote)

the suburbs are changing; increase in diversity


The new myth of suburbia



Home is a place for showcasing goods rather than a place to live in


Over half of the nations poor live in the suburbs

Growing ethnic diversity in suburbs

*Suburbs have greatly changed but our ways of looking at them have not.

Number of scholars studying suburbs remain limited; a vacuum left due to the focus on “urban research”


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