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    Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States

    Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States is a book written by Kenneth T. Jackson. Published in 1985, it analyzes the development of American suburbs from their origins in the early 19th century. Jackson examines how a high quality of life in America came to be equated with home ownership in low density residential neighborhoods segregated from the urban workplace. Extensively researched and referenced, the book takes into account factors that promoted suburbanization such as the availability of cheap land, construction methods, and transportation, as well as federal subsidies for highways and suburban housing. Jackson attempts to broadly interpret the American suburban experience, which he views as unique. He states that "the United States has thus far been unique in four important respects that can be summed up in the following sentence: affluent and middle-class Americans live in suburban areas that are far from their work places, in homes that they own, and in the center of yards that by urban standards elsewhere are enormous. This uniqueness thus involves population density, home-ownership, residential status, and journey-to-work." His working definition of
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    2

    The Death and Life of Great American Cities

    • Year Released: 1961
    The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, is a greatly influential book on the subject of urban planning in the 20th century. First published in 1961 by Random House, the book is a critique of modernist planning policies claimed by Jacobs to be destroying many existing inner-city communities. Reserving her most vitriolic criticism for the "rationalist" planners (specifically Robert Moses) of the 1950s and 1960s, Jacobs argued that modernist urban planning rejects the city, because it rejects human beings living in a community characterized by layered complexity and seeming chaos. The modernist planners used deductive reasoning to find principles by which to plan cities. Among these policies the most violent was urban renewal; the most prevalent was and is the separation of uses (i.e., residential, industrial, commercial). These policies, she claimed, destroy communities and innovative economies by creating isolated, unnatural urban spaces. In their place Jacobs advocated "four generators of diversity": "The necessity for these four conditions is the most important point this book has to make. In combination, these conditions create effective economic pools of
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    3

    The Geography of Nowhere

    • Year Released: 1993
    The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape is a book written in 1993 by James Howard Kunstler exploring the effects of suburban sprawl, civil planning and the automobile on American society. The book is an attempt to discover how and why suburbia has ceased to be a credible human habitat, and what society might do about it. Kunstler proposes that by reviving civic art and civic life, we will rediscover public virtue and a new vision of the common good. 'The future will require us to build better places,' Kunstler says, 'or the future will belong to other people in other societies.'
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