By Philip Langdon
Mentioning interviews with builders, planners, and citizens, the coauthor of This outdated condominium explains the relationship among ordinary glossy suburban designs and the emotions of group pride, whereas stating the virtues of older designs.
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Extra resources for A better place to live: reshaping the American suburb
The point is not that today's world should in every respect mimic the past. It is that historic communities embodied many important understandings about human nature, about what contributes to a satisfying individual and family life and a healthy society. The past possesses an accumulation of wisdom which we ignore at our peril. Those who recognize that the modern American suburb is mired in serious difficulties should be searching for ways of creating a better place to live. That search is what this book is about.
Each year in the United States approximately a Page 17 fifth of the population changes addresses. Neighbors are continually moving away. Conventional suburbs leave someone like Jim with sharply restricted possibilities. The most likely course is to become a member of formal institutionsa church, for instance, or a country club. Jim has done a little joining. He has discovered, however, that formal organizations are not a wholly satisfactory answer. The church he goes to has a limited, fixed schedule, and like many churches, it's not located where it can serve as a gathering place for people in his neighborhood.
I tried to talk with all kinds of people, "experts" and nonexperts alike. In five years' time I traveled to eighteen states. Many of the suburban residents I met told me about their frustrations with today's development formulas; they were less pleased than the marketing specialists and sales records had suggested. I was not the first person to embark on such investigations. A spate of suburban studies, some of them excellent, appeared in the 1950s and 1960s, petering out by the 1970s. In the past few years, as the suburbs have gained a dominant position in American life, studying the suburbs has again become a compelling activity for journalists, academics, planners, and designers.
A better place to live: reshaping the American suburb by Philip Langdon