This first full-scale history of the development of the American suburb examines how “the good life” in America came to be equated with the a home of one’s own . Crabgrass Frontier is the first book to trace the growth of suburbs in America from their origins in the ‘s–in Brooklyn Heights opposite Manhattan–until the. JOHN O’LOUGHLIN. CRABGRASS FRONTIER: The Suburbanization of the United States. By. KENNETH T. JACKSON. x and pp.; maps, diagrs., ills., index.

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Sep 30, AskHistorians added it Shelves: In examining the American suburbs, Jackson argued that suburbanization represented a natural process aided by governmental intervention, facilitating the American desire for a lifestyle characterized by home ownership in sparsely populated, racially homogeneous neighborhoods that are significantly separated from work and the urban environment 10, The resulting decline of American cities, says Jackson, is really an optical illusion — only a small part of cities have suffered from a shrinking economy and tax base.

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Built on cheap land, connected by cheap transport, and occupied by cheap buildings, Jackson believes contemporary sprawl to be not worth much in comparison to the city, and points to trends in the s which might signal a turning point.

Crabgrass Frontier is chalk full of information on the social, political and personal development of suburb culture. They primarily argue that as incomes rise, most people want the range and choice offered by automobiles. Mar 19, Marty Monahan rated stahes it was amazing. While the borders of cities have historically been slums, home to necessary but despised industries like leather tanneries, in the United States cities came to suburbanixation ringed by affluence.

The Suburbanization of the United States. To compound matters, efforts to bring people back into the city backfired. Jackson’s book even touches upon things which I certainly wouldn’t have through of such as construction practices for example, the “balloon” construction model popular in America which made rapid and exponential assembly of homes possible up against European structure which, for the most part, remained masonic in character.

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.

May 25, Jack Leyda rated it really liked it. Jackson placed much of the blame for the racialized nature of America’s suburbs squarely on the shoulders of the Federal Government. Brody, Fall 2. suburbanisation


By about 80 percent of all new arrivals at Ellis Island were remaining in cities, as were 72 percent of all of those ‘foreign born. Dec 20, Jason S rated it it was amazing Shelves: Bancroft PrizeFrancis Parkman Prize Oct 28, Yupa rated it really liked it Shelves: The gap yawns nowhere wider than in France, where 51 years fronrier rent control have helped create a gargantuan housing shortage.

Given the stigma that the word suburb connoted through the centuries, American suburbs seemed to have an inferiority complex in the mids.

Crabgrass Frontier

Jackson does a good job of getting the reader to the point in the s, right after many older American cities had essentially bottomed out, and some had begun to recover in some ways gentrification. The automobile gets a lot of attention later in the book, which is about the point where Jackson drops the pretense of neutrality and begins to wear his own feelings on his sleeve.

It was the automobile which allowed suburbia to truly transform the urban landscape, extending the ease of complete mobility to the entire middle class. In these days of fashionable effeminacy and flabby feebleness, which never walks when it can possibly ride, the horse-car virtually fixes the ultimate limits of suburban growth.

People wanted to get out of the cities, or at least own their own property.

Crabgrass Frontier – The Mason Historiographiki

It covers the period where the US became the world’s sole superpower and also covers a lot of political, technical and economic change. Some of the book’s prognostications fell flat, and some are still in the process of playing out. The ending begins with a fatalism that develops into a somewhat prescient expectation of gentrification and urban renewal. Crabgrass Frontier is a solid overview and introduction to the causes of what became a unique form suburbanlzation American living: He states that “the United States has thus far been unique in four important respects that can be summed up in the following sentence: A Lesson from Levitt”.

But, Jackson suggests, it was the way culture and technology were ultimately guided by government that created the distinctive pattern of struggling inner cores populated by minorities and prosperous, mainly white, suburbs. Personal tools Log in. What made Americans different was a combination of trends in culture, transportation and government. suburbsnization

Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States by Kenneth T. Jackson

Also dominant in the book is the notion that the wealthy began the flight from the city first — something that the middle classes eventually emulated as city tax rates gradually increased to pay for resulting urban problems – as the poorer classes remained in the older central urban areas.


Jackson skburbanization a comprehensive analysis of the the move to the suburbs in America.

It was also published in and hasn’t been updated. While it wasn’t necessary for it to recount history chronologically it is an analysis, rather than a history book, after allit was compiled as though it were a series of essays written at different times for different purposes and audiences, meaning that it doubled over information several times or made references to things that wouldn’t be explained until later, etc. Oxford University Press- History – pages. Perhaps even more fascinating is the way Jackson outlines the misguided notions of “country living”.

For thousands of years, people lived in either the country or the city, but with the coming of the industrial revolution that changed, and especially in America. These styles created an image of low-density living in neighborhoods with detached homes with yards as the new American ideal rather than row houses.

But I just read a stat that low-density suburbs grew more in than any other area. The Baseball Trust Stuart Banner. Jul 21, Subuebanization rated it liked it. The New Deal policies which are often seen by the popular imagination as ushering a golden age of leftist policy effectively stoked the process of private home ownership which already taking place on a smaller scale at the time of the Great Depression.

This book of about three hundred pages is organized in a largely chronological fashion as the author wishes to tell the narrative of America’s suburbanization from a predictably and lamentably negative perspective.

The rest of the book works as probably the definitive survey of suburbia. However, as Andrew points out above, this only helped segregate race and class further. The essential message in this work is fronttier suburbia was the confluence of planning, policy and technology that highlighted and propelled extant trends that had begun in the nineteenth century.

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