Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000

Front Cover
Pantheon Books, 2003 - Political Science - 318 pages
2 Reviews
For almost two centuries Americans have been moving to the suburbs in search of affordable
family housing, unspoiled nature, and small-town sociability--only to find that their leafy
new neighborhoods are part of the growing metropolitan sprawl. It is to this contested cultural landscape, where most Americans now live, that Dolores Hayden draws our attention.
From nineteenth-century utopian communities and elite picturesque enclaves to early twentieth-century streetcar subdivisions and owner-built tracts to the vast postwar sitcom suburbs and the subsidized malls and office parks that followed (on a scale that earlier builders could never have imagined), Hayden reveals the cultural and economic patterns that have brought us to the present. She explores the interplay of natural and built environments, the complex antagonisms between real-estate developers and suburban residents, the hidden role of federal government, and the religious and ideological overtones of the "American dream" embedded in the suburbs. Hayden asks hard questions about who has benefited from the suburban building process and about "smart" growth and "green" building. And she makes a strong case for the revitalization of existing neighborhoods in place of unchecked new growth on rural fringes.
Few readers will see our ubiquitous suburbs in the same way again.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ssrosa - LibraryThing

Fascinating historical account and an important political tract: convincingly argues that Americans must defeat the "real estate-banking-building-automotive" lobby which created the suburban sprawl of the 20th century with lots of federal money. Read full review

Building suburbia: green fields and urban growth, 1820-2000

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The number of suburbia studies by scholars and critics has increased dramatically since the appearance of Kenneth T. Jackson's seminal Crabgrass Frontier in 1985, and the trend shows no sign of ... Read full review


Three Borderlands
Seven Sitcom Suburbs
Eight Edge Nodes

4 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2003)

Dolores Hayden is professor of architecture and urbanism and professor of American studies at Yale University. An urban historian and architect, she is the author of Seven American Utopias: The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790–1975; The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities; Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life; and The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. She lives with her husband and daughter in Guilford, Connecticut.

Bibliographic information