In this study of 180 years of US metropolitan development, urban historian and architect Hayden (American studies, Yale U.) examines the often conflicting visions that have shaped landscapes from Levittown to a prototype digital home. Older suburbs are deemed key to sustaining livability. Includes period illustrations. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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 slowing. Unlike most commentators, Hayden (architecture & American studies, Yale) effectively demonstrates that the 'burbs are not just a post-World War II phenomenon by tracing their origins back to the early 19th century. The story of the postwar growth of suburbia has been told elsewhere but seldom as lucidly as here. Throughout, Hayden emphasizes the role that the federal government played in directly subsidizing suburbia by massively funding highways, providing generous tax benefits to homeowners, and (from 1954) allowing the accelerated depreciation of commercial real estate-the significance of the last point in particular is often not recognized. Hayden is not happy with the built environment and social climate created by suburbia, but she generally keeps her animosity restrained. However, she is not as sanguine as some urbanists, arguing that recent attempts to combat the excesses of suburbia are not ikely to achieve much unless we first address their fundamental underpinnings. This clearly written book will appeal to specialists and nonpecialists alike. Highly recommended.-David A. Timko, U.S. Census Bureau Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.