The Good Old Days of Suburban Development (or Not)

Numerous popular and academic writers from the 1950s and 1960s critiqued suburban development patterns and found them wanting.

May 26, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By urbanguy


Amanda Kolson Hurley writes in Curbed about the popular and academic literature from the 1950s and 1960s on the topic of "suburban anomie." Apparently the good old days weren't quite so good after all.

Hurley explains

In the years after World War II, suburbs represented not just new places to live but a whole new manner of living, separated by more than physical distance from the big cities and small towns from which their residents hailed. Between the late 1940s and 1960, millions of Americans moved into raw neighborhoods containing people of about the same age, making about the same amount of money, starting families at about the same time. It was a social experiment unprecedented in U.S. history. The first suburbanites themselves were well aware of this. Although they felt the optimism of pioneers, they shared in the widespread anxiety that the experiment might not work, an anxiety that manifested as worries about unanticipated health effects. These ranged from the daily, cumulative frustrations of a Mary Drone to more significant problems: stomach ulcers, heart attacks, anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction, and juvenile delinquency.

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