The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Movingby Leigh Gallagher
- Many and various
Leigh Gallagher's key accomplishment with this book is its cover: a bold, red sign sticking out from a suburban roadway announcing "The END of the SUBURBS." This visual statement should provoke curiosity, but then the idea that a book could be published that presents such a provocative image and then follows up with a solid argument for why such a symbol is justified is remarkable. Certainly, it has been 20 years since James Howard Kunstler's The Geography Of Nowhere, but the notion that suburbia has a limit seems to be just now entering mainstream thought from a writer of Gallagher's pedigree. While Gallagher marshals a variety of trends, interviews, and prior literature together to support her thesis, she stops short of delving beneath the surface of her argument or questioning the political and economic influences that built the suburbs (see Dead End). Most importantly, these influencers may very well make sure that suburbia stays dominant into the future, despite what Gallagher observes in this book.
The main points of Gallagher's thesis are well-supported and expanded upon throughout the book:
- Demographic change shows slower growth in the suburbs and faster growth in cities (p. 14) as well as shrinking household size (p. 19).
- Home values in cities weathered the housing bust better than suburban prices (pp. 15-16).
- Building permits have increased in cities and have been reduced in suburbs (p. 16).
- Poverty and crime have grown in some suburbs while being reduced in cities (p. 17).
- Cities are cool again: people seem attracted to cities (p. 18-19) and in particular millennials (those born between 1977 and 1995) seem to prefer cities (p. 19).
- Higher gas prices increase the costs of commuting to remote suburbs (p. 21).
- Lower-density suburban development is inherently cost-prohibitive, particularly as infrastructure ages (p. 22).
Gallagher's main strength is bringing together a survey of literature (actually, many key books she cites are listed along with their authors in the review quotes on the back cover and first inside pages of her book) and concepts to show there is change happening now which is not theoretical, but actual and observed, and that the unwinding of these changes will be complex.
- leighgallagher on twitter
- "The End of the Suburbs by Leigh Gallagher: Review: Just the facts, m'am. No lectures here," Dimitri Nasrallah, August 16, 2013, thestar.com.
- "Book Review: The End of the Suburbs by Leigh Gallagher," John Norquist, July 22, 2013, CNU.org.
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- The Wealth of Cities
- Suburban Nation
- How Cities Work
- Global City Blues
- Get Urban!
- Life 2.0
- Sprawl Kills
- A Whole New Mind.
- The Trap
- The Option of Urbanism
- Who's Your City?
- Green Metropolis
- Cul-de-Sac Syndrome
- Triumph of the City
- The Great Inversion
- Why We Drive
- Dead End
- Parking and the City