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Reason Foundation

Diversity in Suburbia

Leonard Gilroy
January 22, 2005, 9:25pm

Are the suburbs really the homogenous, sterile, and soulless landscapes as portrayed by some in the anti-sprawl community (James Kunstler's Geography of Nowhere being one prominent example)? Apparently not, according to Brian A. Mikelbank's journal article in the latest Housing Policy Debate (hat tip: Peter Gordon): Of course, a good deal of the criticism of suburbs revolves around issues of land use and urban form (particularly in Kunstler's work), which is not the focus of this particular study. But the issues examined in the study are just as important to understanding "what are suburbs and what do they represent?" as form and land use. And what this study reinforces is that as you dig further into understanding suburbs, they take on a strikingly complex and vibrant character: It's a dense, but fascinating read. Also, check out this recent piece by Joel Kotkin, which offers a lighter, but no less compelling look at suburban cultural evolution: Time to rethink your conception of the "suburb," folks. Suburbia does have a soul, and it's getting deeper by the day. UPDATE: Don't miss this other Kotkin piece from The American Enterprise.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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