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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He treats communities in every section of the U. This has much to do with legislation that remains complicated and difficult to this subirbanization the book expounds on the problem of annexation of suburb lands to boost population size.

Essential for academic readers, I suppose, but for general reader like me, it slows the book down. As operating costs soared, transit owners hesitated to raise fares and failed to earn enough funds to upgrade systems.

Jul 21, Nicky rated it liked it. Drawing on a unique set of sources ranging from songs, periodicals, and the writings of cultural icons such as Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, Jackson constructed a narrative asserting that the Federal Government’s approach to housing policy and the ways in which individual municipalities handled concepts such as urban renewal contributed to the spread of the suburbs and, more important, to their status as racialized spaces.

The essential message in this work is that suburbia was the confluence of planning, policy and technology that highlighted and propelled extant trends that had begun in the nineteenth century. Will the amount of driving that is necessary in suburban life be targeted as unsustainable or will the green canopy of the suburb be seen as negating the impact of the carbon footprint.

Then as the nation faced financial crisis in the s, Jackson shows how federal support of the suburban ideal as a residential retreat and homeownship as a middle class ideal for white Americans guided policy making that purposefully created barriers between inner city and suburban movement through land valuations, mortgage policies, construction loans, and housing projects. Integrating social history with economic and architectural analysis, and taking into account such factors as the availability of cheap land, inexpensive building methods, and rapid transportation, Kenneth Jackson chronicles the phenomenal growth of the American suburb from the middle of the 19th century to the present day.

The essential questions for anyone interested in the suburban experience are raised in Crabgrass Frontierhowever, many historians have dissected and invented new threads to explore while trying to empower those who moved away from cities and in the most modern sense, those who moved back.


It would also be interesting to know what effect the green movement might have on stayes in the future. I’d like to find a similar volume that brings Jackson’s account up to the present day, say addressing how online retailing has impacted cities and suburbia and more details on how the revitalization of U.

Jackson disabused me of that notion.

The book, of course, won awards from people who think like the author does, but such people pass out book awards that no one except their coterie cares about and pontificate while people ignore them and go about doing what they should be doing anyway, serving the culture hostile to metropolitan gigantism with its belief in high rises and high densities and a hostility to freedom of movement and a dependence on public transportation and public largess for ordinary people.

Combining social history with economic and architectural history, the book discusses suburban communities in every section of the country as well as making comparisons with Europe and Japan. The Time of the Trolley 7.

Sep 13, Kaufmak rated it it was amazing Shelves: The freeways, for instance, sought to take advantage of the automobile by making downtown and, by extension, the city more accessible, but did the reverse as more people continued to leave. This is a book I read for dissertation research.

Jackson intends his broad analysis to serve as a cautionary generalization of the suburban story, warning readers that it is impossible to detail the distinctions found in each suburb within the space allotted, but arguing that there are “essential similarities in American suburbanization” 6.

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.

Crabgrass Frontier – Wikipedia

This phenomenon runs counter to much of the rest of the world, where slums mostly exist outside the city, rather than within them. The import of such projections was not lost on middle-class families, who often took the opportunity that low price and good transportation afforded to move beyond city jurisdictions.

From ancient times, the city was the place to live, close to the arts and seat of government. Jackson tracks the relationship between emerging transportation technology and the ability it creates for a larger socioeconomic cross-section of the population to move further from urban centers while still being able to travel to work.


Jackson balances analysis of the suburbs with some links to the urban spaces. Just a gut-wrenching episode that Rcabgrass wouldn’t wish on any one. One team of writers have analyzed the building of the Interstate Highway Systemand have concluded that it and other policies of the Federal government played a significant role in American suburbanization.

Yet, while Jackson mentioned the presence of service suburbanlzation in upper class suburbs, he lent the impression that they did not represent true suburbanites. Given the massive growth of affordable dwellings accessible by the highway and train, families suburbaniztaion to planned towns such as Levittown where all the details such as schools and public works were already in place so that builders could erect as many as thirty homes a day to meet demand He does discuss the impact that the computer might have on the dichotomy of city versus suburbia but he, not surprisingly, misses the mark on the impact that the dominance of the internet in current life might have on how people work.

His broad argument is that suburban growth is part of a larger urban growth model that has seen spectacular success in the United States. Views Page Discussion View source History. I learnt suburbanizayion lot about my adoptive country and how this sort of suburbanisation was somewhat unique here compared to other countries.

Like the suburbs, one has to seed the lawn of history and then allow others to plant the garden with unique items. Minorities, particularly African-Americans, were practically barred from moving to suburbs, both northern and southern, everywhere, by collusion, federal policy choices, etc.

Crabgrass Frontier

Jackson just describes the facts and even then recognises that no trend continues for ever. In Crabgrass Frontier, Kenneth Jackson chronicles urban flight and the making of the ‘burbs, establishing that Americans have an historic cultural distaste for cities, inherited through England, and have been trying to have the best of both worlds, city and country, at least since the end of the 18th century.

Other factors at play as well, but almost frontjer of them in the predictable manner. Du Bois, and Paul Finkelman. Jan 18, May added it Shelves: To ask other readers questions about Crabgrass Frontierplease sign up. Defenders of the Unborn Daniel K. He argues that this is not a new phenomena, but goes back to the nineteenth century.