Borderland: Origins of the American Suburb, 1820-1939 / Edition 1

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A fascinating prehistory of the American suburb, from its beginnings in the mid-1800s to the onset of World War II. Using a rich array of contemporary written and pictorial sources, prize-winning historian John Stilgoe guides us through the early suburbs of Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and other cities, showing us not only what they looked like but what life was like for the men and women who lived there. Highly readable and generously illustrated, the book provides new insights into the lives of the first suburbanites and teaches us to appreciate anew this important aspect of the American way of life.

"Borderland offers a fresh perspective on the zone between rural space and urban residential rings, and it challenges our assumptions about what constitutes a good life."-Kenneth Jackson, Progressive Architecture

"In chronicling this great exodus and its impact - on culture, women, architecture and myriad other aspects of American society - Stilgoe displays wit, scholarship, and insight, as well as delight in searching out meanings in his sources. . . . The book itself is handsome and well-illustrated, blessed with a lively text, saturated with evocative and vivid detail."-David Slovic, Philadelphia Inquirer

"A provocative look at American culture. . . . Borderland makes serious social history accessible and engaging."-Caryn James, New York Times

"Stilgoe's research is thorough, his approach original and engaging, and his book a delight to read, filled with illustrations-pictorial and verbal-that help illustrate the phenomenon more clearly and deeply."-Merle Rubin, Christian Science Monitor

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Suburbia, claims Stilgoe, is a catch-all term that misleadingly lumps together all sorts of regionsscruffy frontier settlements, villages that sprang up along well-traveled roads, planned communities, towns built on their accessibility via horsecar and, later, streetcar. This leisurely foray into the history of U.S. suburbs shows that 19th and early 20th century Americans fled the cities for a wide variety of reasons. For the genteel, Shaker Heights, eight miles east of Cleveland, offered nostalgic appeal combined with natural beauty and urban conve nience. But the railroad and steamboat opened up the hinterlands around New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere to the lower and middle classes. Harvard professor Stilgoe concentrates here on visual topographyEnglish-style cottages, commuter platforms, porches, woodlands, antiquing. By combing rural journals, local newspapers, diaries, real estate ads and period drawings, his pleasantly illustrated ramble fills in the historical backdrop of the post-WW II mass exodus from urban decay. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Stilgoe deals with one American ideal, that of living in a carefully arranged natural setting, in the appearance of simple country lifean ideal that only the rich can afford. Winding roads, lots of trees, privacy, and safe homogeneity define these suburbs. Women busy themselves with horticulture, shopping, and village improvement. Men commute to work and play at being gentleman farmers. Stilgoe describes ``commuter country'' with abundant illustrations. While his book makes pleasant reading, it fails to consider the implications for American society: the effect of such suburbs on cities; and on women and children who don't fit the stereotype. Mary Drake McFeely, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300048667
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1990
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.76 (d)

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