Who'll Fix the Suburbs?

Two new books proffer the end of the suburbs and the salvation of dense urbanity. But the suburbs are "not about to shrivel," says Justin Davidson. So who should be responsible for fixing suburban dysfunction?

Davidson looks at two new books that make the case for the demise of suburbia, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving by Leigh Gallagher and A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America by Vishaan Chakrabarti. In them, an "inquisitorial fever" equates buying a suburban home with "chain-smoking, snarfing down Whoppers, or driving an extra-large SUV—a world-destroying act of staggering selfishness." 

But reports of the suburbs' death have been greatly exaggerated. "[S]uburbia is so immense, so culturally ingrained, geographically dominant, and politically significant, that it’s not about to shrivel," says Davidson. "Nor should it. A healthy metropolis needs its greater metropolitan region."

"Why do we build these asphalt steppes, then keep making them grimmer still? And how can we make them not just tolerable but civilized? These lamentations have become more urgent as oil and water grow more scarce, and it’s past time for the most inventive planners and designers to venture beyond city limits and figure out how to preserve the best of the suburbs and clean up the mess of the rest," he urges. 

Full Story: How Do You Fix Long Island?

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