Earlier this week a “Chart of the Day” post by Matt Steele about the always debated SWLRT project sparked 47(!) comments at the time of this writing. Part of the discussion in the comment thread touched on the idea of “The American Dream” incarnated as suburban living. The argument that people in the U.S. want to live suburban lifestyles is often trotted out as part of criticisms against urban investments and in support of road expansion projects leading to greater exurbia. You’ve probably heard comments similar to the following in these debates, “Stop trying to social engineer people into living in cities. Not everyone wants to live in a high-rise, above a coffee shop on a train line.” I don’t doubt that many people do want to live suburban lifestyles, but I wonder how much of this is the result of sinister social engineering itself.
In the Suburbs is a short film produced by Redbook Magazine in 1957. The post WWII time period includes many films similar to this one extolling the virtues of suburban living and encouraging people to leave city life behind. After all, there’s “Easy Living” to be had at Southdale and real-estate that needs to be sold around those new highway interchanges.
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