SUSTAINABLE SUBURBIA? RETHINKING THE NORTH AMERICAN METROPOLIS

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The suburbanization of North America has been was one of the most significant social, political, and cultural transformations of the twentieth century. Originally seen as an alternative to the chaotic, polluted, and socially dysfunctional industrial city that came to dominate the continent at the turn of the twentieth century, suburbia was meant to seek a healthy balance between urbanization and nature. For decades, that promise was richly confirmed and visions of suburbia became inscribed in the national consciousness through mass media representations. These multiple factors contributed to suburbanization's emergence as one of the most important patterns of settlement in human history. In recent years, however, suburbia's promise has started to wane and with its popularity came challenges. The low-density development that is its hallmark created sprawling metropolitan areas characterized by a dispersion of shopping, residences, and workplaces. Because of this dispersion traffic congestion has increased dramatically with people having to spend more time in their cars and less time working or socializing with friends and family. This dispersion has also exacerbated social and racial inequalities. Perhaps most importantly, at the core of the North American suburban project has been the assumption of an essentially limitless supply of energy. Given these social, environmental, and economic transformations, many suburban residents, policymakers, and businesses are questioning the sustainability and viability of the suburban project. This book analyses the various challenges facing suburbia in current times.

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