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

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

  • Title: Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream
  • Author: Andrés Duany Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk Jeff Speck
  • ISBN: 9780865476066
  • Page: 434
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 traditional planning principles This movement stems not only from tA 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 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 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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      Posted by:Andrés Duany Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk Jeff Speck
      Published :2019-06-08T12:59:55+00:00

    611 Comment

    • Matt says:

      This was a great read for me. I learned a lot about why I prefer old-style neighboroods to the suburban sprawl. The authors put words on the unconscious thoughts that I usually have as a I walk around the city.The book is easy to read and funny at times. Emphasizing how sprawl kills our sense of community and how good town planning can create that sense of community and give its citizens a place to care about.Here is a random list of things that will improve the sense of place. The book covers e [...]

    • ambyr says:

      This is interesting as a snapshot of New Urbanism at the tail end of the twentieth century, but parts have not aged well. I enjoyed the first half, which diagnosed the problems of sprawl, more than the last half, which offers solutions that often come across as more dogmatic than evidence-supported. The authors are clearly very proud of their planned communities, which they refer to frequently as case studies, but seventeen years after publication it's less clear that those artificial neighborho [...]

    • dusty.rhodes says:

      Clear with good examples (And a very visually pleasing format) BUT the book can be condensed to:1. Learn lessons from the past.2. Think beyond self-interest.3. Believe it can be better.4. Make it better.Then again, the American Dream destroys Americans' dreams.

    • William Cline says:

      Required reading for your local town authorities, or for anyone who wants help understanding why traditional neighborhoods work better than post-war sprawl. Pondering sending one or more copies to the planning department in my home town.

    • Timothy Riley says:

      An eye-opener-I came upon this while browsing at the library only to find my sister has already read and reviewed it. She beats me to everything. The first half of this book is a five star the second half gets mired in more technical aspects of planning and is more of a two star. I am hopeful that the author is right when he concludes that Americans are searching for the communities that they've dismembered since the 1950's and look for small town atmospheres. There is still a visible march to s [...]

    • Leslie says:

      Sometimes the ideas Duany and his colleagues discuss here seem ridiculously simple, and one might wonder why they keep repeating the same few simple ideas over and over again. Well, they keep repeating them because people keep resisting them, against all the evidence, against all common sense, against their own lived experience. We just keep doing the same things that have gotten us and our communities (or our suburban sad replacements for communities) into such a mess. Some say that insanity is [...]

    • Rebecca T Marsh says:

      This is an absolute must-read for every American. There is a connection between the built environment and quality of living, public health, economic prosperity and entrepreneurialship. The changes in our building patterns since WW2 have been destructive, unhealthy, and nonfunctional. We can't afford low-density growth in the long run because it costs too much in public infrastructure and makes it nearly impossible for the local economy to survive (i.e.:small-business owners and shops). The book [...]

    • Simone says:

      I knew about New Urbanism and its principals before reading this book, and having read some other books on the suburbs and urban design, this wasn't terribly surprising, BUT wonderfully and simply presented here. If you grew up in a suburb that you hated because it was boring, without a place to walk to at night to buy a soda, or you visited cities with amazing vibrant downtown areas and thought - I wish my town could be like this, read this book. There's a quote at the beginning describing the [...]

    • Dona says:

      This is a great book, especially if you agree with its primary thesis about the evils of sprawl (which I do). It must be noted, however, that its snarky tone, (no doubt amusing to the converted) could alienate those who come from a different perspective. Since I am already persuaded, I particularly liked chapter 7, the Victims of Sprawl, which outlined how suburbia causes a lack of autonomoy in teenagers--along with boredom and depression. "Children [in the suburbs] are frozen in a form of infan [...]

    • Erin Caldwell says:

      This book clearly describes why urban sprawl is so detrimental to society; the many causes of urban sprawl; and how to avoid it in the future. The only weakness was that it was a bit lengthy, and even I lost my gusto for anti-sprawl rhetoric by Chapter 11. I do recommend it to anyone who finds himself trying to explain why subdivisions are so detrimental but can only respond with "Because they suck!!!"

    • Sara says:

      Give me real, walkable neighborhoods, give me mixed zoning, give me my small house on my small parcel of land and I'm happy. My midsize city has a ways to go before it's truly the anti-sprawl utopia I dream of, but this book left me full of hope of what could be, and made me really understand just why I'd always been so. damn. miserable. in the 'burbs.

    • Chad says:

      A quick and easy read that is also thorough and detailed down to the granular level. This book should be a Bible for anyone interested in equitable housing, smart growth, and growing communities through good governance.

    • amy says:

      It's necessary but I don't have to love it, right?

    • Kimberly says:

      Like many state departments of transportation, Virginia's discourages its state roads from being lined with trees, which are considered dangerous. In face, they are not called trees at all but FHOs: Fixed and Hazardous Objects.p 16In suburbia, there is only one available lifestyle: to own a car and to need it for everything.p 25Placing excessive curves and cul-de-sacs on flat land makes about as much sense as driving off-road vehicles around the city.p 34Streets that once served vehicles and peo [...]

    • David Shelton says:

      This is a very good book that highlights the significant negative impacts of sprawl in a concise, easy to understand way. The specific observation I found most memorable is how sprawl promotes the private realm of individual residences at the expense of the public realm allowed by the traditional neighborhood. My only complaint is that they overstate their case in terms of public preference. To my reading, they believe that if citizens could just understand the benefits of traditional neighborho [...]

    • Stephen says:

      Compare a modern American city to its European counterparts, or even an older American city, and the contrast is striking: American cities seem to have fallen apart, spewing their innards cross the landscape. Indeed, America has taken a radically abnormal approach to urbanism in the last fifty years, building out instead of up. Even while the city centers have been left to fall apart, ‘greater metropolitan areas’ – the mats of low-density sprawl surrounding those decaying centers – have [...]

    • Rebecca Van Wagner says:

      As a lay person, I enjoyed the thoughtful look at what makes a real community and neighborhood, and the inverse. There were bits that were too technical for me, and I would have liked more pictures, but I do see this being useful for the township official as a good basis in considering land use. I also would have liked more examples of towns, historic or new, that do it right. I get it- Kentlands is basically Disneyland.

    • Terry Mark says:

      This is an excellent introduction to the ideas of smart growth and how suburban sprawl is disrupting life in American cities. While the town is a bit preachy in spots, I can forgive the authors for their passion on this subject.

    • B says:

      Probably should have read this celebration of small towns and compact design vs. suburban sprawl a long time ago. In 2017 it seems a bit dated and less resonant, but still interesting. Walkable City was more current, direct, and substantive.

    • Hannah Darr says:

      “Given that most time in public is spent driving around in isolation chambers, it is no surprise that social critics are witnessing a decline in the civic arts of conversation, politics, and just simply getting along.”

    • Evan E. says:

      Fascinating and comprehensive look at urban sprawl in America. Perfectly definitive.

    • Colin says:

      Overall, I liked the book alright. The book has a broad scope that explores the history of city growth in the last century, the design features that create sprawl and traffic such as street geometry and the evolution of zoning, political and financial issues, as well as the social aspects of city design. I think the book does a good job of bringing all these topics into relation with the urban built environment.The tone is a little uneven, perhaps an artifact of multiple authors. This is most ap [...]

    • Jessica says:

      I read Suburban Nation because of an endorsement from a friend. It's a book about the virtues of traditional, community-oriented town planning as contrasted with the current American tendency toward sprawl and single-use developments (i.e big houses in one place, big office parks in another place, big shopping centers somewhere else).I'm not quite sure how to assess the book, because in some ways I loved it, yet in other ways I felt like it kept repeating the same point ad nauseam and that it co [...]

    • Carl Wade says:

      Pg 65: A study found 90% of pedestrian deaths were the drivers fault. 75% of which resulting from a traffic violation. So watch out walks. Pg 169: Farmer's markets effective in energizing downtowns. These may be incubators for storefront space. Pg 15: Traditional neighborhood pattern: Alexandria, VA rules, 1. center, 2. 5 minute walk, 3. street network with short blocks, 4. narrow, versatile streets, walkable, 5. mixed use, 6. Special sites for special buildings.Pg 196: The Homestead Act divided [...]

    • Mary says:

      Much like Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere, except more hopeful. Suburban Nation is very readable, while remaining technical enough that the reader is conscious of learning something. It suggests workable (proven to be so) solutions that the authors and their colleagues have personally implemented. However, the reader never gets the sense that the authors are tooting their own horn. They take you through all sorts of things - facts, methods, skills, ordinances, quirks, zoning stupidities - th [...]

    • Wm says:

      You should most definitely not read this book*. It will only make you angry, and I'm not casting that in liberal vs. conservative terms because if you really, really are committed to the creation and/or preservation of community and core democratic values then it should be obvious to most that sprawl is not the ideal situation, and the beauty of this book is that it doesn't vilify developers and it recognizes the need to make money and create value and it respects, even encourages, private owner [...]

    • Leah says:

      This is a good introduction to the concept of sustainable community design. It's not in-depth or detailed, so wouldn't be a good choice for trained designers or architects who are already familiar with the community design literature. My favorite parts of this book were the ones that explained how Americans stopped building towns and started building "developments" in the 1970s and 1980s. These authors demonstrate, with historical examples, that this method of growth and expansion wasn't inevita [...]

    • Michelle says:

      This book outlines one of the most important messages for Americans to hear: if we keep building in the way that we have for the past half-century (subdivisions with no sidewalks because there's nothing to walk to, stores plunked down in the middle of highways and vast parking lots, offices set nowhere in particular and devoid of all human activity after 5pm), we shouldn't be surprised by things like increased rates of depression and anxiety, teen suicides and school shootings, voter apathy. The [...]

    • Andrew says:

      The book can be cleaved into two parts. The first is the analysis of postwar suburban development, which is combines inarguable realities with searing criticism, and is one of the most cogent arguments against modern suburbia I've ever encountered.The second, and vastly weaker section, is made up of suggestions on how to rebuild our cities, which is the sort of capitalist-happy approach to social problems engendered during the Clinton yearsEY HOLD UP THE FUCKING DISNEY TOWN IN FLORIDA AS AN IDEA [...]

    • Scott says:

      Suburban Nation explains the concepts that have come to be known as Smart Growth or New Urbanism in the clearest possible terms. The authors have had decades of experience working against the sprawl-inducing design regulations of municipalties nationwide, so they make their points in language that translates easily to the concerns of the people who will actually live in these neighborhoods.The book contains neither politically charged rhetoric, nor an abundance of design-professional jargon. Ins [...]

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