In Crabgrass, Jackson argues that the United States is unique from other nations with its suburbs, which, in 1980, house 40% of the US population. American suburbs, despite the uniformity stereotype, are diverse in their type, shape, and size, with some wealthy and some poor, some residential and some industrial, some new and some old. Yet, especially when compared to international places, American suburbanization shares some similarities. Two distinguishing aspects of American metropolitan areas are their low residential density and the lack of obvious division between town and country. American cities have a more scattered population and more urban sprawl than other nations’ cities, such as Austria’s Vienna, where city boundaries abruptly stop with apartment buildings and a train takes one into the country. Another distinguishing aspect is the Americans’ strong liking of homeownership, where two-thirds own their own dwellings, doubling the rate of countries such as Great Britain and Norway. The most important distinguishing aspect is the pattern of wealth and status distinction (socioeconomic distinction) between the center of the city and the periphery. In the United States, as shown with the 1980 census, there is a disparity between the city center and the suburbs, where those in the suburbs tend to have higher income and are more likely to have a college education. However, in international cities from Johannesburg to Cairo to Rome to Rio de Janeiro, the opposite is true, with the wealthy in the inner city and the oppressed and poor on the outskirts. Finally, the last distinguishing aspect is the average length of minutes or miles Americans must travel to get from home to work. In the 1980 census, American workers typically travel 9.2 miles and twenty-two minutes each way for work - a result from the privatization of American life in the suburbs, with workers in larger metropolitan areas spending even more, whereas, even without exact statistics in other parts of the world, the practice of going home for lunch and taking a siesta shows a different sort of travel.-Francesca Maisano
During the mid-to-late, 1900’s suburban life become very popular. It became a way of life, or as many people said, “The American Dream”. Jackson talks about how it’s hard to determine exactly what counts as a suburb. He states, “Dictionaries skirt this demographic tangle with descriptions of suburbs as “those residential parts belonging to a town or city that lie immediately outside and adjacent to its walls or boundaries”” (Jackson, 5). There are many places throughout America that are described as suburbs. For example, Calabasas in California is a suburb of Los Angeles. It’s the same around here, take D.C., Alexandria, Bethesda, and Arlington are suburbs of D.C. They are right outside the busy, and expensive city, but still close enough that people can travel back and forth between them.
In this work, Jackson attempts to give a broad interpretation of American suburbanization, investigating questions about urban land use, city growth, and why American suburbia is decentralized and privatized compared to much of the rest of the world. For the purposes of this book, he states that the definition of suburbs has four parts: the function of the land (residential), class structure, separation from home and work, and population density. He also focuses heavily on the importance of race, class, and governmental public policy in the process of American suburbanization.
In Crabgrass Frontier, Jackson lists Congestion,a clear distinction between city and country,a mixture of functions, a short distance people commuted to work, and the notability of the most wealthy living close to a town center as the most important characteristics of a walking city.
Jackson notes that in order to be able to fully understand a society, it is important that you look at the housing of its members. Housing and the arrangement of housing helps us to understand the lifestyle and people. - Mariah Morton
The idea of owning the means of production was something specific unique in suburbs. Usually, shop owners lived right above their business. Due to the popularity of this social norm, many cultures and professions intertwined and mingled. - Theophilus Felder
Cities in America vary greatly, but there are numerous similarities. The similarities are clearer when compared to international counterparts. The US is unique in four areas according to Jackson. 1. The low residential density and absence of division between city and country. 2. The strong percentage of homeownership. 3.The socioeconomic distinction between the city centers and their peripheries. 4. The commute time of residents. Deborah Hunnel
While the intricacies of American suburbs is unique, the name “suburbs”, alongside the general ideal of being close to a city yet far enough away that noises and pollution is not imminent, has been seen used in history since the 1380s. Suburbs as places of domestic dwellings close to city boarders can be found throughout the world and time. Suburbs were beginning to form before America was officially a country; land in Massachusetts was advertised as being outside of Boston. These early walking cities mostly had five similar characteristics: congestion, clear distinction between town and country, mixture of functions, short distances the inhabitants lived from work, and the tendency of the most fashionable or important addresses to be located close to the center of towns, according to Jackson. Living outside the safe walls of the city was seen as substandard.
Due to the lack of technology which helps with transportation, Jackson refers to these earlier cities as “walking cities”. The cities were small pieces of land which could be easily walked in under a day, but due to the smallness of the cities, they were inundated with buildings. Smaller lots, buildings pushed up against each other and the sidewalks, alongside narrowing roadways were just a couple of ways that city builders built around the confined spaces in earlier cities.
Another important characteristic of early cities were distinct boundary lines between the rural and urban areas. Jackson goes into the European history of walls and notes that in the New World, large, imposing walls were scarcely created. However, the lack of a tangible wall did not stop the creation of strict boundaries between rural and urban areas. Again, cities were highly concentrated due to all of the buildings built and squished in together. This meant there was a visible perimeter surrounding the city. A tight conglomeration of buildings was surrounded by more fluid and spaced out ranches, thus creating a metaphorical wall.
The fourth characteristic of a walking city was the short distance between work and home for many people. Since the working day was long, and the only transportation back in 1815, was walking or riding a horse, many people wanted to live close to where they worked. It was a huge advantage for them, and “many people lived within one mile of their workplace” (Jackson, 15). Many of the shops and stores in cities had apartments above them that workers would rent or buy.
Jackson mentioned that even though the suburbs are a residential place, it involves a systematic growth process that is more rapidly paced than that of core cities. He stated that the suburbs are not a newer concept, but something that had been in place since ancient, medieval times. - Mariah Morton
Jackson's perspective on city diversity was quite unique. For instance, the perspective of wealthier people living in the city center versus the poorer communities laying on the periphery was not necessarily a social norm. However, cities were instead packed and everyone knew each other. - Theophilus Felder
Jackson introduces the main characteristics of a walking city including density, the sharp change in density, and the mixture of functions. People in the cities did not really have much space, they were all crammed close together, with most residences within very close proximity to each other. Typically, people got around the cities by walking, hence the term “walking city”. Horses were a form of transportation but were very expensive because where they were housed, fed, etc. far from cities, so only wealthy people were able to own them. When he introduces the sharp change in density, he discusses the idea of boundary lines not being as clear due to the rapid growth of the cities and the property value outside of the cities begin to increase. People wanted to work where they lived so that they would not have to travel (walk) as far to get to their place of work. Those who were lucky enough to own their own shop/business would live above their business, but those who were employed by the owners would typically live with the shop owners and their families to maintain close proximity to their job. This lead to people being forced to be “close-knit” in their communities, but only because they had to be. There was essentially no privacy; everyone knew everyone and everyone knew everything about everyone. - Devin Wright
With the introduction of different styles of transportation, the walking cities mentioned in the previous chapter became more evolved to fit the new technology. Olmstead commented on how the city could now have different functions within one space which was not the experience of the walking cities. New York City and Boston are the perfect examples of this new style with having little villages or regions within the city which serves a different purpose for those who inhabit it. -Ellora L.
The First Commuter Suburb
Brooklyn Heights was the first suburb in which the ability to commute to work for residents proved to be a major factor in its creation. While it’s quieter and more peaceful environment was nice; the ability to live away from, but still work in the city of Manhattan was a major selling point. Brooklyn Heights was located across the harbor from lower Manhattan, which made up a large portion of New York City in the early nineteenth century. While Brooklyn remained mostly rural through 1810, with a population of 2,378 which exploded over the coming decades to reach a population of 806,343 in 1890. This was largely due to the ease of transportation to Manhattan through regular ferry routes between the city and Brooklyn starting in 1814. Overtime, more ferry lines were created and by 1860 the various East river ferries were carrying about 100,000 people every workday. While its proximity to New York City first caused it to become a suburb, overtime population spillover engulfed Brooklyn and allowed it to grow into its own city. By 1890, Brooklyn was home to many candy companies, iron mills, hat factories, and even chemical work facilities. ~Morgan G.
By the mid-1800s, steam engines were becoming common. Though the first railroads were for long distances, early on they were built between the outskirts and large cities. In New York City, the largest US city, commuter travel by steam railroad started in 1832. By 1837, the New York and Harlem Railroad had regular service to 125th Street, then in 1844 this line also went to central Westchester county, and with two other lines, it reached New Haven in 1843 and Peekskill in 1849. Populations grew rapidly along the track and replaced the steamboats in some parts. The Long Island Railroad and the New York and Flushing Railroad helped commuters come from the east, with the former meant to connect New York to Boston, which it eventually did, though with several steps along the way. Speaking of Boston, other cities also had railroad commuting, including Boston, who had the biggest proportion of suburban commuting. Despite the railroad’s popularity, the railway was not favored by everyone, with the loud noise, soot, and accidents. Though, as accidents became less frequent, the steam locomotive was accepted and even regarded as good in the urban landscape, as it helped get families away from the city congestion. -Francesca Maisano
Jacksons Crabgrass Frontier goes over the class structure in the city and notable people. Jackson reflected on the bourgeois and how New York started to attract the wealthy and how the wealthy people lived in different areas of the city. This can be reflected for example by San Francisco having wealthy people in the downtown heights of Fern Nob hill and Russia Hill, Chicago wealthy in the business district and Nashville wealthy in Edgefield (Jackson 25). One notable person Jackson reflected on was Hezekiah Beers Pierrepoint who was known for the start of the premier suburb of the 19th century (Jackson 30). – Jasmine Williams
Improving and providing better modes of transportation was one of the most important things to happen in history, and “it represented the most fundamental realignment of urban structure in the 4,500-year past of cities on this planet.” - Mariah Morton
While many people found it quite difficult to afford ferry transportation, it made a major breakthrough in accessibility to high-traffic commuter locations. On page 26, Jackson provides a map of three ferry routes. The first ferry was located to the North of the East River known as the Navy Yard Ferry. This ferry transported commuters from Northern Manhattan to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The second ferry, the New Ferry, was located a bit further South and brought passengers near the access point of Main Street in Brooklyn. The third and final ferry was the Southernmost ferry called the Fulton (Day & Night) Ferry, which afforded commuters with the opportunity of traveling to Brooklyn by way of Fulton Street. - Theophilus Felder
Because of the introduction of the steamboat, there began to be an erosion of the mixture of functions and gradually city density decreased. In response to the troubling loss of wealthy people in Manhattan due to them moving to Brooklyn, the city fathers promoted the use of land transportation (i.e. the omnibus: a horse drawn carriage that holds about 12 passengers at a time). -Khalia D.
Finally, with the introduction of the horse car, all the pieces were set in place for “the development of the world’s first integrated transport systems” (41). The horsecar allowed for relatively cheap cross-town trips, the steam engine allowed for long distance commuting over land, the steam ferry developed networks between local river cities, and even the much-dreaded omnibus had a role to play providing transportation where horse carts did not reach. The combined effect of these means of transportation was greater than any of them on their own and once the combined transportation network emerged, the so-called riding habit began to take off. -Jason Elms
The development of American cities necessitated that they be small in order for them to be navigated by foot. As technology developed and transportation enabled citizens to traverse more and more territory cities began to grow and create larger footprints and created additional areas outside called suburbs. Jackson describes these areas as residential areas lying immediately outside and adjacent to its boundaries. (5). Today many live in suburbs such as Alexandria, VA to Washington, D.C, or Arlington, TX to Dallas, Wilmette, Il to Chicago. Deborah Hunnel
Family and Home
In Christian culture the family unit has “always occupied an exalted station” (47); however, with the coming of the 18th century the family was redefined as the most familiar to modern readers “tightly nit group of parents and children” (47). Houses began to be private spaces which were completely sectioned off from public life, even having a distinct differentiation between public and private space within the house itself. This change was driven by the advent of industrialization which moved the place of work out of the house, thus taking the male breadwinner out of the house during the day and leaving the household as the sphere of women. – Jason Elms
Family is the chosen instrument of God used for reproduction, nurturing of the young, and propagation of moral principles in both Christian and Jewish societies. With the changes driven by industrialization, the nuclear family was born. The woman was now the instrument used to nurture the young and instill moral principles in them, as well as making the home a moral place for her spouse to retreat after working in an ammoral world. -Gianna
As families became more and more isolated, they became more feminized as well. It became the “women’s sphere” in which young ladies were encouraged to have hopes for their own future women’s sphere where they will take care of their husband and kids. Authors went as far as saying that family life could foster “virtuous habits” and help assure their eternal peace in heaven. They were taught that the home was to be perfect and that it should be made into a heaven on Earth. -Gianna
Jackson writes about the importance of family and the privacy of home during the 1800's. A family's dwelling was supposed to provide security and nurture morality. The best homes were those that provided a safe-haven, and helped to nurture the family unit. Having a place to call their own became the dream of many. It was the symbol of having “arrived” at a certain level in society. -Mariah Morton
The single-family home became the paragon of middle class housing. It was the most visible symbol of arriving at a fixed place in society, it showed financial superiority and a higher social status than poorer housing in the city. It was also an investment that owners hoped would skyrocket them to more wealth and a higher social status. Not only did the purchase of a home validate someone’s success, it was also conferred moral rectitude. It was a space in which children could be trained to be moral and a place that a husband can recharge his morality because it was supposed to be made into a heaven on Earth by the wife. -Gianna
The home becomes completely separated from urban area/place of work and the yard serves as a “barrier of country” or a moat. The home serves as a private place for the nuclear family to dwell and is figuratively their own encapsulated world. The man is typically the breadwinner and comes home to “recharge his moral batteries” from having to interact with the corruption of the city. The woman acts as a homemaker and ensures the home is a paradise for her family. The children are nurtured by the woman within the home.
Jackson mentions that the suburbs were a place for restless working people to rest, free from the slums, the epidemics, the crime, and the anomie. It was the combination of city and rural life. Ownership and the ability to create or buy whatever you wanted also made people choose suburban life over city and rural areas.
The yard played an important role in the suburbs and the idea of private space or property. Before the rise of the suburbs, individuals lived either in jammed cities, with houses directly next to each other, or country homes, using most of the land for sustenance and farming. The yard served as a symbol of status, wealthy men looked to move to the countryside to escape the crowded cities. These manicured lawns, serving no physical or practical reason, would serve as another level of privacy for the suburban home. J.Binns
The purity of farm country has been a theme throughout urban history. Jackson introduces a new concept: green spaces as areas of leisure and not functional. Rural areas are dedicated to practical green spaces, like corn and wheat, where as in the growing suburbs there is a growing consciousness of green spaces acting as morality and health rechargers. As transportation grew faster and more reliable, row houses and the center of cities grew out of fashion. With detached houses came individual yard spaces which grew into new outdoor activities (croquet, tennis, etc). Integrating the flowing curvature of rural areas, suburban areas were suppose to bring in the amenities of the city (water systems, transportation, entertainment) but also the relaxation and purity of “natural” rural areas, like green spaces. -K. Eastridge
Catharine Beecher was born into a heavily religious and influential family. Beecher's seven brothers were ministers and her sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, would write the highly controversial Uncle Tom's Cabin. Beecher assumed the position of maternal figure in the household when her mother passed away. Beecher believed in the moral superiority of women, but did not think that women deserved the right to vote (going against a common argument that women must take their morality to the ballot boxes in order to shape society). She believed in the subservience of women to men. Beecher, uniquely, connected the ideas of domestic purity to the architectural design in her revolutionary Treatise on Domestic Economy, For Use of Young Women at Home and at School, the first American book on practical dwelling applications. While she did not refer to the suburban area directly, Beecher did argue that the best place for maintaining the purity of family life was in a semi-rural area. Much like other architects covered by Jackson, Beecher saw greenspaces as the key to upkeeping morality. -K.Eastridge
Catharine Beecher believed in the moral superiority of women over men but was opposing women's suffrage. Beecher believed that women could achieve their goals by being demure, unassuming, and gentle making men yield to their influence instead of being subjugated by them. Deborah Hunnel
Andrew Jackson Downing
Downing published the first American on landscape architecture. He was the foremost literate and articulate architectural critic of his generation. He divided domestic architecture into three classes: (1) the cottage, a servantless small dwelling; (2) the farmhouse, a large but equally utilitarian building; (3) the villa, a substantial structure required the need for three or more servants. Downing popularized the simple and functional building techniques creating the suburban ideal that even working men could aspire to.- Deborah Hunnel
Downing believed in the virtue of a private individual home and space. He spoke of the need for men and women to be able to escape the busy and crowded city. Downing’s ideal suburb would feature single-family cottages on lots with street frontages of at least one hundred feet. He also believed in a central park or common space that would help foster union between nature and human culture (65). Justin Binns
Calvert Vaux was a major influence in the development of urban architecture, contributing to the plans for Central Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, South Park in Chicago, and the Metropolitan and Natural History Museums in New York. He was born and trained in his profession in England and gained his reputation as being the most prominent landscape architects. Even though he was an average designer, his persuasive personality and devotion earned respect. He disliked the traditional American home and preferred a natural landscape in his designs, making more interior space. - Devin Wright
Though the earlier writers, such as Calvert Vaux, and developers, such as Edwin Litchfield, had written and speculated about suburbs, there was not yet suburbs as a planned and separate entity to itself. However, in the 1850s, with the urban population booming and new modes of transportation for commuting, the idea of the suburbs as a unit was starting to be planned.
The Gridiron System and the Winding Lane
From the beginning of human settlements, streets have always existed for movement around the town. However, in ancient cities, there was no recognizable pattern for the streets, until Hippodamus, introduced what is now called the “gridiron system” of straight and parallel streets to the town of Greek town of Peiraeus and this system became common. It fell into disfavor after Greece declined but came back in favor by the 1500’s. This system solved the problems of surveying, lot boundaries, housing efficiency, and it gave a standardized lot. Additionally, the system was seen as civilized and conquering nature (74). Very popular, it was even applied to the wilderness through the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 and in Western cities, who saw it as a way to try and emulate the big Eastern cities (75). However, within the system, there was overcrowding and poor lighting, with the streets seen as inconvenient, unattractive, and unsanitary. One solution was to develop wide, tree-lined boulevards with single-family homes and large, well-maintained yards. Other solutions were to use setback lines and centering a house on a lot. Even more so than the boulevard, though, the winding lane was picturesque and the suburban ideal for the high-status in their suburban cottages (76). -Francesca Maisano
The Gridiron system, according to Jackson, “simplified the problems of surveying, minimized legal disputes over lot boundaries, maximized the number of houses that fronted on a given thoroughfare, and stamped American cities with a standardized lot…” (74). The system was effective in placing and housing many families who commuted to big cities.
The winding lane was a pattern of design that was popular and best suited for the suburbs. This layout was one the helped to differentiate between the city, and helped to give a more country-like feel, without being too far from the city. It provided more privacy and a more ideal view and landscape that helped with the pace and feel of the home be more welcoming. -Mariah Morton
Alexander T. Stewart and Garden City
Stewart was a wealthy Scottish immigrant with a successful business and an annual income of $2 million. His long-time architect John Kellum informed him of the imminent sale of over 7000 acres. Stewart bid on the land and wrote a letter with his intent of building attractive residences and buildings since the local townspeople were worried of the land being turned into working-class development. The Garden City was to be an ideal area for working-class families. The Garden City was a major step towards suburbian development. -Francisco Palomo
Introduction: The rapid growth of the economy and the industrial revolution provided a new basis for businesses of a scale that had never been seen before in cities. Men at the top of the business ladder were thrown lavish parties, mansions with servants, and tours of Europe to compensate their great efforts toward the success of their business. With this newfound status, residential summer homes were becoming more popular throughout the United States. The new American riches included the idea of conspicuous consumption in the form of real estate, which dictated that the way to show wealth was through lavish homes and mansions. Those successful and wealthy enough acquired homes in remote areas with physical attractions such as water and hills particularly focused on the close proximity to the city. - Devin Wright
The elite suburbs were a symbol of the excess and affluence that those living in them had. The mansions helped to illustrate the achievements that they had attained and the social status they reached. For many, having just one home to illustrate these achievements was not enough, multiple were needed, even is they were only going to be used for a few months out of the year. -Mariah Morton
The Residential Options of the Upper Middle-Class
The elite groups of people who could afford to own a home with one or more servants had three residential options: remain in the private area of the city, move to an elegant apartment house, or relocate in the hinterland. The concern regarding the apartments was the lack of societal investigation. People were not able to see their neighbors coming or going without the entryway visible to them; apartments were seen as sexually racy before the Civil War because of this. After the first upper-class apartment was built in 1870, people were rapidly seeking them. The concern about staying in the city was the rapid changes within large cities. Most often, older residential areas were close to the business districts and property values were rising in anticipation of varying land use. The emergence of more frequent and accessible railways arose during this time due to the rising populations of people living outside of the cities. Jackson compares the commuter railways to magnets, drawing successful businessmen in from fast-paced cities to little towns along the tracks. Commuter railways were established all over the United States after populations living outside of the cities began to increase all over the nation. - Devin Wright
The Railroad Suburbs of Chicago
Chicago, also known as the “city of broad shoulders” due to its heavy industries and stockyards, essentially became the railroad capital of the U.S. in 1870. Due to the expanding railroad system spreading out from the city, commuter villages began forming along the more major rail lines, some began to reveal suburbs in New York and Philadelphia Pa in size. Parks were also placed along the lines to serve the new communities that were growing each year. Evanston and Highland parks were placed along Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, Aurora and Hinsdale were on Burlington, Kenwood and Hyde Parks were on Illinois Central, and Morgan Park and Blue Island were on the Rock Island Railroad. Chicago’s commuter suburbs grew to have a population that exceeded three hundred thousand over the course of fifteen years since 1870. The suburb of Lake forest became the most popular suburb with its location on Lake Michigan and great design by St. Louis surveyor Almerin Hotchkiss. Lake Forest experienced the most growth when wealthy Chicago families like the Mccormicks and Palmers took interest in the north shore of Lake Michigan.~Morgan Gilbert
The Country Club and the Organization of Suburban Leisure
Thorstein Veblen wrote Theory of the Leisure Class in 1899, and in it, he described how the elite class in America used recreational time as an opportunity to become engaged in unproductive games. Veblen claimed that they were only involved in this because it allowed them to show their superiority to the working class. Growth in the acceptance of physical activity and recreational sports mirror the expansion of the upper-class railroad suburbs in the late 19th century. Clubs for gentlemen date back to 1792 with the Belvedere Club in New York offering outs 33 members entertainment rooms and a bowling green. Other clubs were later created like the Knickerbocker in 1871, the Union in 1836, and the Century in 1847 in New York. Other major cities had similar clubs that provided gentlemen with a place for recreational activities and sports like bowling and golf. Soon these clubs morphed into Country Clubs that catered to the elite class and membership to them was a major status symbol within society.~ Morgan Gilbert
The Socioeconomic Composition of Railroad Suburbs
While the country club image was popular among the elite class, it was not the ideal representation for most of the commuter suburbs. The commuter suburbs were often made of many different socioeconomic classes; even the richest suburbs has dots of with small dwellings owned by the working class. Some areas like Chestnut Hill eventually featured economic extremes as the wealthy became to crowd into this one suburb. However, the poorer working class was not pushed out as these people often performed domestic duties for the wealthy and the barons of chestnut hill found it very beneficial for their workers to live close by. ~Morgan Gilbert
The Pattern of Main Line Settlement
As railroad commuting was relatively expensive and time-consuming, suburbs and settlements were typically forming with at least a mile separating them on a railroad line. The towns typically developed like beads on a string; in small but separate spaces. This caused the town's too often remain fairly far from the city. ~Morgan Gilbert
GOT TO HERE 2/22/19
Jackson begins this chapter with a discussion of the attempts to find a solution to urban transportation leading up to the trolley. In 1867 Charles Harvey invented to cable car, a vehicle connected to a constantly moving cable and controlled by a lever. This prototype was altered by Hallidie to mimic english cable coal cars that was easy to implement on the straight streets and horse ‘railways’ of American cities. Chicago had the largest cable system, and commuters utilizing this system enjoyed speed, cleanliness, and quietness, unlike transportation by horse car, which was unsanitary, slow, and resulted in thousands of horses’ deaths. Despite these advantages, the cable system had multiple disadvantages (cost, energy inefficient, difficult to operate) that caused its eventual decline, with most cities returning back to horse transportation. In New Jersey (1880), Thomas Edison began experimenting with an electric trolley car, which was attempted several more times with varying success rates. The most successful early attempt was the Sprague Electric Railway (1884), implemented in Richmond. This attempt caused an increase in trolley railway investments in cities around the country, spreading this new, pollution-free, fast, and cheaper transportation alternative.
Cable cars were popular forms of transportation. They could hold lots of people and transport them quickly and quietly. Cable cars began with a 5 cent fair which most people could afford. The tended to be run by land speculators who bought the land and made their money by selling real estate. The cable car ended because their prices were set at 5 cents and could not be raised as costs increased. The development of the car also eventually caused the demise of the cable car.` Deborah Hunnel
The cable car was a popular form of transportation due to the fact that it was fast and efficient. It allowed people more time on either end of their schedule for what they wanted to do, without the hassle of allotting time for transportation. The cable car also allowed families to move further away from the city due to its speed and efficiency. It made it more feasible for the father, or other family members to get into the city when needed, and then to get home as well. -Mariah Morton
Disenchantment with the Horsecar
The horsecar had a lot of foundation problems that led to people gravitating towards cable cars (despite how unsafe and new they may be). The amount of physical labor to run a horsecar was overwhelming: in 1885, there was 100,000 horses dedicated to powering transportation in Chicago. The city relied so heavily on the limited amount of power that a horse could give that it led to a about 15,000 horses dying each year in the 1880s. In order for horsecars to travel up and down hills, back up teams of horses would be stationed in the valleys but unhooking and rehooking the new horses took up precious travel time. Also, many riders noted the horrible conditions that the horses were forced to work through: overtired and beaten by the horsecar drivers in order to get places on time. Finally, the manure from the horses was enormous. With an average of ten pounds of sewage per horse per day, the streets of Chicago were covered in manure and horse carcasses as if a horse were to the injury itself, the rider would destroy it on the spot. -K.Eastridge
The Robber Barons of the Street Railways
Jackson states, “the streetcar lines provided the basis for substantial fortunes” (109). Targeting robber barons as the topic for this section. These men such as, Charles Tyson Yerkes and Henry M. Whitney, owned and operated the large firms that were responsible for the electric railway lines in cities such as Chicago and Boston. It's important to note that, the right to operate these electric railways in city streets was granted by city governments to private companies in return for the guarantee of services. (109) However, profit was the main concern for future routes planned by these companies, rather than for the good of public service. Robber barons often consolidated these companies into large firms in the major developing cities, by the end of the 19th century. (109) A costly investment for these robber barons at first, in the long run, led to significant financial gain. - C Cary
Tying the City Together
The trolley became the instrument that allowed citizens to explore other parts of the city. No longer walking cities, these trolleys/streetcars were used for leisure rides and transportation to and from work. Because trolleys were relatively inexpensive, the public would take advantage of the new form of mobility to explore other neighborhoods. During the warmer months, trolley companies would use open-air cars and entire families would take advantage and ride the trolleys. The more adventurous would buy pocket guide books and take elaborate journeys transferring from trolley to trolley. Streetcar companies encouraged pleasure-riding by establishing race tracks, beer gardens, parks, beaches, and resort hotels at the end of their lines (112). Amusement parks were the greatest stimulus for recreational travel. These parks were physical expressions of the new importance of leisure in the lives of urban families (112). -Francisco P.
The chapter begins by reminding the reader that even in the 1890s concentration of population within urban centers was still high. Jackson gives New York City as an example, “congestion in many sections frightfully high, and on some streets, . . . it was moving upward toward the highest level ever recorded on earth” (116). Obviously, commenting on the growth of high-rise buildings and population growth, he expressed that the solution was to push the population to “open land and relatively inexpensive housing on the periphery” (117). While some people enjoyed city life, most people, even the lower class, “saw the suburbs as a panacea” (117). That area represented a moral life, where “they could build cottages that would promote family stability, peace of mind, patriotism, and moral character” (117). Jackson then expressed that home ownership in the United States was easier to acquire than in European states. As home ownership was on the rise, Jackson revealed that this phenomena was not trapped in a box by class or ethnicity, with the exception of the Jewish and African American population, “all ethnic groups participated in the suburbanization process by moving toward the peripheral areas of the city” (118). -C Cary
Cheap land/High wages
During suburbanization in major U.S cities, the average working-class man's wage was significantly higher than that of other countries (129). To add, the United States had ample room for human migration because it had either heavily forested or grass-covered lands, opposed to equally large countries with arid and inhabitable lands, the land in the US remained habitable. A result because of this was that the lands surrounding urban areas remained generally cheap, lots valued at $150 were the common price at the turn of the century. This cheap property obviously targeted the working-class. However, the cheap property was not only attributed to excessive land mass but also to transportation that made moving in and out of urban areas quick and efficient. Also, the devaluation of farmlands led to cheap selling of those lands by their owners (130). -C Cary
One aspect that made the suburban home more plausible for the common man was the advent and growth of the electric streetcar. Beginning in the 1870’s the introduction of the streetcar made possible the slow outward growth of the city center. It did this in a couple of ways, one of which is it reduced the price to commute into the city to a mere nickel. The other feature was the buildup and extending the lines outside the built up portion of the city. –Justin Binns
Another factor that would allow the common man to more accessibly move to the suburbs was the construction of the balloon frame house. This was a more effective way to build the frame of the house with pre built lumber which would be lighter and easier to assemble, making housing projects available to more people and cost cheaper. This would help change home building, as many other crafts we have seen, into an industry unique to the United States. –Justin Binns
With the invention of faster, more efficient transportation, along with the prices of land being low, more families were able to move to the less concentrated areas of the city. These families were also able to still enjoy the amenities that the city had to offer because the price of commuting to and from the city was affordable. It was like having the best of both worlds, the moral safe-haven of the suburbs, and the business and commercial lifestyle of the city. -Mariah Morton
With the movement of American families to the periphery, questions started popping up about the schools, utilities, sewers, police, and fire departments. There were four different approaches: 1-cities annexing the newer sections, 2-new municipalities could be created, 3-the creation of special taxing districts for at least one important function, and 4-country governments could become more like cities therefore increasing their power. In the 19th century, the first approach was the most common, with cities growing consistently larger in both area and population. However, by the second half of the 20th century, people learned that cities do not always grow, and city boundaries don’t expand forever. Declining cities, those that are losing population, are usually old, congested, and in the East and Middle West. These cities all haven’t expanded their boundaries in the last 50 years. -Francesca Maisano
The Nineteenth Century
In the nineteenth century the tell-tale way of telling population growth within cities was the annexation and incorporation of land outsides cities into the city boundaries. More people meant the expansion of land to accommodate a growing population. This was a major theme in the nineteenth century as populations in cities continued to boom. - e.m.
In 1898,the most significant municipal boundary adjustment in the United States history took place - Andrew Haswell Green's lifelong dream of a Greater New York City became a reality. Brooklyn, Queens, a portion of Nassau county (didn't exist quite yet), Staten Island and parts of Westchester County joined Manhattan. Collectively, they came to be known as the Bronx. -khalia d.
The 20th Century
However, by the twentieth century expansion was no longer possible. Thanks to a suburban area that refused to give way to an expanding city. So, cities grew up instead of out, trapped in their boundaries despite continuous growth. Cities then began to have to find other ways to expand and grow to accommodate the populations. -e.m.
Motives for Annexation
American cities have always been vulnerable to the “bigger is better” idea. Investigators found that during the 1890 federal census, Minneapolis had enrolled the dead and St. Paul listed 100s of people who evidently lived in barber shops, depots and dime museums. Annexing populous suburbs was a method of fueling the municipal booster spirit. -khalia d.
Not only was the desire to annex inspired by the booster spirit, it was also by the business idea that larger organizations were more efficient and substantial governments would accrue from a consolidation of municipal governments. In a lot of cases, the cry for efficiency was a mask for the desire to exploit and control - it might be called the local brand of urban imperialism. -khalia d.
In chapter 9, Jackson begins by discussing how the US was lagging behind Europe in motoring development, with only a few manufacturers, such as Duryeas, producing less than 10 vehicles per year in the mid-1890s. The popularity and accessibility of automobiles increased much more slowly than the trolley because of laws greatly limiting speed, lack of highways and gas stations, and unmarked roads and towns that made it easy to get lost. One factor that led to the US stepping to the forefront of the transportation revolution after 1896 was that unlike European manufacturers, Americans sought to produce automobiles that were simple to use, mass-produced and affordable to more of the population. Ransom E. Olds made a single-model from parts bought in large quantity that greatly increased the accessibility of the horseless buggy by 1905.
One important factor in the rise of the automobile and its effects on suburban cities was Henry Ford and the creation of the model T. The increase in manufacturing technology would allow for mass production of the Model T. Ford would lower the price from $950 in 1910 to $290 in 1924. Now, most working-class families would be able to afford a car for themselves. You can see this as in 1913 there were one million car registrations, this number would jump to ten million in 1923, much attributed to Henry Ford and the Model T. –Justin Binns
Kansas City “is one of the prettiest cities on earth.” (177) Or at least the Country Club Plaza is a Christmas. The Country Club Plaza was named for the associated Country Club District, the neighborhood developed by J.C. Nichols Nichols began acquiring the land for the Plaza in 1907, in an area of Kansas City that was then known as Brush Creek Valley. When his plans were first announced, the project was dubbed 'Nichols' Folly' because of the then seemingly undesirable location. Nichols built 6,000 homes and 160 apartment buildings to house 35,000 residents. The area promised spacious grounds surrounded by air and sunshine. The homes offered modern conveniences including piped gas, electric service, and a nearby trolley. The area had no right angles or gridiron streets, it followed the natural land contours and left as many trees as possible. The lots were substantial, set back for the street, allowed for driveways, garages and racially restrictive covenants. A Homeowners Association controlled the area supervising lawncare, street cleaning, and garbage collection. With the development of the shopping area, the Country Club Plaza became “the place to live in Kansas City.” (178) The Country Club Plaza still is a beautiful place to live, work, and play.~ Deborah Hunnel
The automobile offered more of a mixed review. It offered families ways to travel and enjoy more that their surrounding areas had to offer, without having to rely on public transportation. However, the car also meant that more people would be travelling individually which meant more congestion in the city. there was also the issue of having a place to store the car, and things like gas and maintenance. It was a great opportunity for weekend travel, but a headache to use in between then. -Mariah Morton
Although the car had been available since the late 19th century, America felt the full impact of the car on urban development during the years after World War I. Although at first cars were thought to be a form of transport perfect for the city, with the rise in car ownership they quickly caused unbearable congestion. Instead of spurring the city on to new heights, the car would promote the radical growth of the suburbs, with many growing two times as fast as the urban centers they surround during the interbellum years. The car even changed how cities themselves grew as it opened up new areas for the city to expand into, such as Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Despite these new growths being a part of the municipal corporation, they were “suburban in everything but legal status” (176). -Jason Elms
In the period between 1888 and 1918, automobiles were still thought of as a novelty and a toy to be used for recreational purposes. This mindset continued until the advancement of the electric streetcar. The electric streetcar because it was revolutionizing transportation. It quickly became the “potent factor of modern life” because it made the shift to economic and class segregation in a much larger area than the walking city. It also led to the replacement of horse-drawn systems because they were cleaner and much faster. -GB
Between 1906 and 1953, commercial and residential developer Jesse Clyde Nichols built up to 10% of Kansas City’s housing. Influenced by the European garden communities and the American City Beautiful Movement, in 1908 he purchased a garbage dump, forlorn harness-racing track, and a brick kiln, waiting until 1922 before beginning to build what would become 6,000 homes and 160 apartment buildings for 35,000 residents. These expensive homes had all of the modern conveniences. Nichols did not believe in right angles, gridiron streets, destruction of streets, or ignoring the natural contours of the land. His lots gradually increased in size, and so did the minimum cost of the house. In addition, there were many rigid restrictions. The district promised large yards and a lot of air and sunshine, and it became known for its parks, set-back lines, and deed restrictions. The district’s shopping center and landscaping attracted planners and builders even internationally. Kanas City by 1930 “was the place to live, even having one of the “most admired” high schools (178). -Francesca Maisano
The decade after World War I was the first that the inventions of cars and roads affected. The 1920 census revealed that forty-six percent of families were homeowners, but the percentages where increasingly less in cities. Between 1922 and 1929, new homes were being built at the rate of 883,000 per year, which was more than double any previous seven year period. Because wages were rising and housing prices were falling, construction boomed. -GB
Possibly fostered by the already chaotic streets in cities, the initial belief about automobiles was that they were going to thrive primarily in rural settings. There was a strong idea that the glamorization of the car will add a new sense of modernity and class to rural areas, which are typically seen as backwards thinking. A fascinating impact of the steady normalization of the automobile was its effect on rural areas. As a symbol of modern innovation, the automobile could serve as both a means of traveling to the city from rural areas on a more individual and specialized level but also as a compromise for young, restless rural citizens with dreams of moving to big cities. However, rural speculators were not they only ones blinded by the shine of the automobile: many urban thinkers argued that the car was going to cause a large employment and population boom in the city (along with getting rid of the lingering horse problem). While initially these speculators were right, eventually the car became more a leisure item than a practical one. It took many years before the car would be seen as useful for the daily commute. - K.Eastridge
By the time of the Great Depression of 1929, the car had become such a steady part of people's lives that there was great reluctance in giving up that pleasure. In fact, car registration went up during the worst years of the depression and the only form of retail that was not greatly impacted by the Depression was gas stations. Most likely drawing from a very real need to have control, the common family would rather go without the bare necessities than to get rid of the car. The automobile gave a full sense of freedom to those who could afford it: no ticketed fairs and mandatory trails, the car could take you where ever you want to go and whenever you want to go. Interestingly enough, the Soviet Union saw America's consumption of cars as a debilitating effect of capitalism and attempted to use it as propaganda for their communistic system yet those who watched it were more in awe that even the poorest times in America, people could own cars and shoes (a luxury and a basic necessity). -K.Eastridge
The steam engine was no longer the primary mode of power after the twentieth century electrical revolution. The typical power unit was no longer a big steam engine, it was now small electric motors which made it easier and more practical to build single plants rather than multi-story ones. This consequently shifted the factors to the edge of the city, rather than keeping them in the mix of city life. -GB
A factor setting apart the United States from other countries for the past 200 years is the availability of housing and land. In 1920, the size of cities and skyscrapers and the number of workers weren’t unique to the US, but the size of the suburban sprawl, commuters, and number of people living in skyscrapers were. Suburbanization was a “demographic phenomenon”, some even seeing it as “natural and inevitable” (190). From tax codes that encourage new construction, to defense spending that helped Sunbelt cities grow, and to military expenditures collecting more money in certain areas than others, the federal government’s housing policies affect where people live. The federal government also influences urban vs. suburban with such policies as the Federal Highway Act of 1916 and the Interstate highway Act of 1956, that, combined with low-cost fuel, assembly-line automobiles, lower mortgage interests and real estate taxes from gross income on detached homes, encourage the moving away from the city. -Francesca Maisano
Government and Housing Before 1933
Despite housing creating the biggest monetary costs out of all the human necessities, it was not regarded as a responsibility for the government for a long time in World and American history. Some intervention slowly began to become popular with some local governments restricting wooden houses and thatched roofs for safety reasons in cities in the late 17th century. New York City was even able to create and pass restive housing laws in 1867, but housing was still largely considered a personal issue. The Federal Land Bank System was created in 1916 and the construction of housing for munitions’ and arms workers during World War I sparked the beginning of government intervention in housing. The last and arguably most important shift in government involvement in housing occurred in June 1918. Congress appropriated $110 million to two separate programs for housing war workers, one was called the Emergency Fleet Corporation of the United States Shipping Board and the United States Housing Corporation. Both programs aimed to provide residences for households moving to more industrial areas to help produce more weapons. It was started just 5 months before the war ended, few establishments were actually made. Some examples of them are Yorkship Village in Camden, New Jersey; Atlantic Heights in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Union Park Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware. ~Morgan Gilbert
Less than 25,000 houses were built under these 2 programs, and many were eventually sold to private developers after the cessation of hostilities in the war. So while the first government effort was sparked by the war effort and its’ demands instead of an increase in the spirit of reforms or helping the poor. While the movement wasn’t a huge success, it displayed that the government could intervene without falling into the Marxist trap. The houses built under these two programs were of high quality often as well. Many were row or duplex houses made of brick and stucco. During the 1920s, the U.S. government adopted a more hands-off to housing, however, the Great Depression in 1929 was a catalyst that changed this approach again. The construction of residential property fell by 95% between 1928 and 1933. In 1926, almost 68,000 homes were foreclosed. Many people lost their property and housing prices declined. The victims were often middle-class families who were impoverished at this time. Herbert Hoover created the President’s National Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership in 1931 to try to determine how the housing problems impact the economy.~Morgan Gilbert
The Greenbelt Town Program
Franklin D. Roosevelt develop the Greenbelt Town Program which was influenced by the Rexford G. Tugwell and administered by the Resettlement Administration (195). The Tugwells communities were made to be decent housing and providing high level of social and educational service. Jackson explain how Tugwell wanted to bring people out of the cities and to tear down the slums and to turn them into parks (195). The Greenbelt program was not successful in the New Deal era, but the Home Owners Loan Corporation and the Federal Housing Administration was susesful with the impact on suburbanization (195). - Jasmine Williams
The Home Owners Loan Corporation
Intended to “serve urban needs” the HOLC was written into law by FDR in 1933, primarily to fix the direct loan of the previous administration. The particular importance of the HOLC, as Jackson claims, is that is showed the practicality of long-term mortgaging. Having the payment plan be pushed out to “about twenty years” helped the homeowner to be safe in paying it off, instead of being at the mercy of an ever-changing market. (Daniel Noel)
Even in the realty market, bigotry is a major factor. Black families were charged far more to come into a neighborhood, but because of their presence, the value of the nearby housing would plummet as it became less marketable to white families. Though the realtors were bigoted, the system itself was influenced by the HOLC’s reports on these areas. Since there was no alternatives, they had to rely on these qualitative reports that took-heavily-ethnicity and race into account when determining zones. Such as the Ladue area of St. Louis receiving the first green rating, saying it was free of people of color in total, and that made it desirable. (Daniel Noel)
The Housing Reform prior to the 1930s was meant to improve for the slum conditions in the United States. The establishment of a standard of ventilation, sanitation, and density in those sectors would be improved because of this. With the Housing Act of 1937 would cause an important stimulus for the deconcentration that was being caused by the segregation of races in the United States. This would concentrate the disadvantaged in inner cities, and reinforce the images that were being used for Suburbia that would be seen as a refuge for the main issues that involved race, crime, and poverty.
With a reversal of traditional federal policy, the administration of Roosevelt would initiate an own construction program. With that direct involvement of “, Uncle Sam” began with the National Industrial Recovery Act during the First Hundred Days of 1933. The legislation was used with four purposes: Increase employment, housing for the poor, demonstrate to private industry the feasibility of large-scale community planning efforts, and eradicate and rehabilitation slum areas in order. – Hunter Dykhuis
In the interbellum years during the Great Depression the first impulse towards positive housing reform. Initially championed by Edith Elmer Wood who argued that “private philanthropy was not the solution to the housing problem” (220) but instead that the government must become involved in constructing low cost housing. With the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 the federal government entered the field of housing construction. The act empowered the Public Works Administration (PWA) to facilitate the construction of new housing through three methods: lending money to private slum-clearing companies, providing grants and loans to local public authorities for the construction of low-rent housing, and buying property itself for development. This initial drive towards federal public housing construction was hamstrung at every turn. There were few companies that wanted to renovate slums with enough equity to qualify for the loans, very few states had the requisite legislation to allow their governments to positively develop housing, and finally, after it was disbarred from using eminent domain to purchase real-estate for housing by the supreme court, the PWA faced the issue that any attempts to buy real-estate resulted in inflated prices to take advantage of the government’s monetary weight. -Jason Elms
While in many other countries the construction of public housing was incorporated centrally to national ideologies, in the United States it served to “create invidious distinctions between city and suburban life” (229). A crucial factor which contributed to these distinctions was the consensual nature of federal housing development. For construction to start in any municipality, that municipality must vote to accept it. This meant that many suburbs voted to retain their exclusive reputation and middle-class composition by denying housing development. Cities, which already had many poor residents often applied for these funds, which resulted in a dichotomy where only the urban center had housing affordable to poor people while the peripheral suburbs lacked any such housing. This resulted in even greater concentration of poor families in cities. -Jason Elms
Levittown is the name of large suburban housing developments created by William Levitt and his company Levitt & Sons. Built after World War II for returning veterans and their new families, the communities offered attractive alternatives to cramped central city locations and apartments. The Veterans Administration and the Federal Housing Administration guaranteed builders that qualified veterans could buy housing for a fraction of rental costs. Production was modeled on assembly lines in 27 steps with construction workers trained to perform one step. A house could be built in one day when effectively scheduled. This enabled quick and economical production of similar or identical homes with rapid recovery of costs. Standard Levittown houses included a white picket fence, green lawns, and modern appliances. ~ Deborah Hunnel
As the suburbs became more and more populated, Jackson describes a new “darker” trend. The explosion of new people, particularly young couples, began creating a cultural cut to the American Family. As the family unit was emphasized with the Nuclear Family, familial ties weakened. With having more rooms than people in it, it was “devastating, particularly for women and children.” Not only did it harm the familial ties, but it hurt the current women and children by harming the domestic life. (Daniel Noel)
Characteristics of Postwar Suburbs The typical American Suburbs developed between 1945 and 1973 share 5 common characteristics. The first is the location in terms of the city, as they were often on the periphery of large cities. A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey between 1946 and 1947 showed that suburbs accounted for 62% of construction in the nation. The second major characteristic was a relatively low density. Row houses were not very popular and single family homes were often completely separate from each other. Thus allowing yards to become more popular and lowering the population density in these suburban areas. The third characteristic was the suburbs' architectural similarity. While some custom homes were built for richer residents, many of the houses featured in suburbs were from the same or similar floor plans and layouts. This simplified production costs and fee allowing large developers to maximize profits off of only half a dozen floor plans. The Fourth characteristic of the post-WW2 housing was easy availability and reduced suggestion of wealth. While some were higher end suburbs than others, many suburbs featured really cheap housing options. The fifth characteristic was economic and racial homogeneity. Families were often sorted by income and racial distinctions more clearly with the creation of suburbs. The creation of the automobile also helped strengthened discriminatory “Jim Crow” laws and practices.~Morgan Gilbert
New York City saw the first ordinance on zoning in 1916. It served the general purpose of preserving residential class segregation and property values. In theory zoning was supposed to protect the interests of all citizens by limiting land speculation and congestion (242). By 1926, seventy-six cities adopted ordinances similar to NYC. By 1936, 1,322 cities (85% of the total cities) had these zoning laws. In actuality zoning was used to keep poor people and obnoxious industries out of affluent areas. Minimum lot and set-back requirements insured that only members of acceptable social class could settle in their privileged sanctuaries (242). Southern cities used zoning to enforce racial segregation. Zoning provided a way for suburban areas to become secure havens for the well-to-do and forced the cities to provide economic and residential areas for the people not admitted by the suburbs. -Francisco P.