Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

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Macmillan, Apr 16, 2001 - Architecture - 293 pages
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A manifesto by America's most controversial and celebrated town planners, proposing an alternative model for community design.

There is a growing movement in North America to put an end to suburban sprawl and to replace the automobile-based settlement patterns of the past fifty years with a return to more traditional planning principles. This movement stems not only from the realization that sprawl is ecologically and economically unsustainable but also from a growing awareness of sprawl's many victims: children, utterly dependent on parental transportation if they wish to escape the cul-de-sac; the elderly, warehoused in institutions once they lose their driver's licenses; the middle class, stuck in traffic for two or more hours each day.

Founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk are at the forefront of this movement, and in Suburban Nation they assess sprawl's costs to society, be they ecological, economic, aesthetic, or social. It is a lively, thorough, critical lament, and an entertaining lesson on the distinctions between postwar suburbia-characterized by housing clusters, strip shopping centers, office parks, and parking lots-and the traditional neighborhoods that were built as a matter of course until mid-century. It is an indictment of the entire development community, including governments, for the fact that America no longer builds towns. Most important, though, it is that rare book that also offers solutions.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

Anti-sprawl polemic, with plenty of pictures and statistics to make the case that building bigger houses further out is killing us—and this was well before the mortgage crisis! The authors tout New ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - elainermeyer - LibraryThing

Subruban Nation provides a good overview of the condition of the American landscape, which has become, especially over the last sixty years, a stretch of parking lots, strip malls, and segregated-use ... Read full review


What Is Sprawl and Why?
The Devil Is in the Details
The House That Sprawl Built
The Physical Creation of Society
The American Transportation Mess
Sprawl and the Developer
The Victims of Sprawl
The City and the Region
The Inner City
Development Checklist
The Congress for the New Urbanism
Sources of Illustrations

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About the author (2001)

Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk lead a firm that has designed more than 200 new neighborhoods and community revitalization plans, most notably Seaside, Florida. Jeff Speck is director of town planning for the firm.

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