Suburban Century: Social Change and Urban Growth in England and the United State 9781474215596, 9781859736432

Bad architecture. Soulless. Destructive of communities. The suburbs are much-maligned places. We see this time and again

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Acknowledgements An Arts and Humanities Research Board research leave award made it possible for me to study in Washington DC for the month of October, 2000. Staff at the Library of Congress in Washington, and National Archives II in Maryland, were friendly and efficient, as were workers at the British Library and the Royal Institute of British Architects Library in London. I am especially grateful to the folks at the Planned Communities Archive at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia; to Claire McCann and the staff at Special Collections and Archives, University of Kentucky; and to Angela Eserin at Welwyn Garden City Public Library. Thanks to Nick Tiratsoo for his encouragement and constructive advice during the research and writing of the book, much of which unfortunately coincided with a prolonged and painful period of university ‘repositioning’. Other helped too, notably Steve Bunker, Harriet Jones, John Mason, Andrew Saint and Tatsuya Tsubaki. I am also grateful to Robert Friedel at the University of Maryland for showing me around Greenbelt, and indebted to Peter Larkham of the University of Central England and to Richard Harris of McMaster University for their comments on an earlier draft of this book. And I am particularly thankful to Kathleen May at Berg Publishers for supporting Suburban Century, and for making some very useful comments on an earlier manuscript.

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Abbreviations United States AMA DLC DSCUR FHA HHFA HOLC HUD NA/RG NAACP PCA/SCA/GMU PTA RA RPAA UKlib/SCA URA

American Medical Association Democratic Leadership Council Division of Slum Clearance and Urban Redevelopment Federal Housing Administration Housing and Home Finance Agency Home Owners Loan Corporation Department of Housing and Urban Development National Archives/Record Group National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People Planned Communities Archive/Special Collections and Archives/George Mason University Parents and Teachers Association Resettlement Administration Regional Planning Association of America University of Kentucky library/Special Collections and Archives Urban Renewal Administration

England BBC CHAC DC HMSO LCC LLP MHLG MKDC SFOA/WGCPL T&CPA WEA

British Broadcasting Corporation Council Housing Advisory Committee Development Corporation Her Majesty’s Stationery Office London County Council London Labour Party Ministry of Housing and Local Government Milton Keynes Development Corporation Sir Frederic Osborn Archive/Welwyn Garden City Public Library Town and Country Planning Association Workers’ Educational Association – ix –

An Introduction to the Suburban Century

–1– An Introduction to the Suburban Century A history of suburbanization might appear to be less immediately interesting than other momentous themes in contemporary history. How, it might be asked, can it be as profound as the impact of total war on society? Can it possibly compare with the struggle for civil rights? How can it be as significant as a study of the consequences of affluence in class societies? Can it really be as important as a history of the changing roles of women? And surely it cannot be as fascinating as contemporary political history? In fact, suburbanization is intimately related to war, ethnicity, affluence, class and gender, and to party politics in the United States and England. It involves, furthermore, the impact of motor cars and of communications technologies on everyday life. It is no exaggeration to argue that an understanding of the suburbanization of England and the United States reveals a great deal about the changing cultural values and material realities of both countries. During the twentieth century, the United States and England evolved into societies dominated by the suburbs. But in numerical or quantitative terms, this evolution had very different starting points. In 1900, nearly three-quarters of Americans lived in rural areas. Stated another way, only one in four Americans lived in an urban context. The urban-industrial revolution, however, had been gathering pace in the United States since the 1870s, drawing large sections of the internal and the immigrant populations into the town and city centres to find work. The suburbs were by then quite small, and still largely populated by the middle classes. The great cities of the United States grew hugely after 1870, but downtown remained at the heart of urban life. Even by the end of the Second World War, and despite the growth of the ‘automobile suburbs’ of the 1920s, about 80 per cent of Americans lived in either town or rural environments, as opposed to those designated as suburban. During the post-war period, however, the United States experienced the remarkable rise and dominance of the suburbs. In England during the 1900s, three of every four people were living in towns or cities. The rural population was much smaller than in the United States. More significantly, suburbanization was more advanced in England than in the United States. Widespread middle-class suburban living had been established longer in England than in the United States, a function of the earlier arrival of the industrial revolution during the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As the proletarian and factory districts of towns and cities spread rapidly through the land, many in –1–

Suburban Century the English middle classes reacted with horror to what they perceived as the overcrowded, polluted and dangerous city, and removed themselves to the countrified suburbs. Suburbanization expanded remarkably between 1900 and 1939. London, for example, tripled in size during this period. A sporadic and uneven continuation of the process occurred in every decade following the end of the war in 1945, although post-war suburbanization was nowhere near as widespread as in the United States. Nonetheless, the years since 1945 in England, and especially the 1980s and 1990s, witnessed undoubted suburban dispersal not just of homes but of industry and employment, while many inner-city areas continued to decline. By the end of the twentieth century, a majority of the population was suburbanized in both countries.1 As the twentieth century ended, the expanding suburban context continued to absorb a large and growing proportion of the people and the products of England and the United States. Truly does the twentieth century deserve to be termed the ‘suburban century’, a term that was first coined during the early 1990s.2

Definitions Terms such as ‘the suburbs’, ‘suburbia’ and ‘suburbanization’ bring to mind images of sprawling and homogenous low-density residential areas away from the town and city centres. There are, however, a number of important defining characteristics of the suburbs. These have been itemized by the sociologist David C. Thorns: 1. While located beyond the heart of the town, the suburb has been within its urban orbit. 2. The urban geography of the suburb was intermediate between the town centre and the countryside. 3. Suburbs were usually within commuting distance of town and city centres, and commuting has remained a major aspect of suburban life, because most suburbs were built primarily as residential developments away from places of employment. 4. In relation to this, suburbs were usually dependent upon the town or city centres as a source of goods and services, that is, for shopping, leisure and other requirements. Thorns drew upon the work of the urban historian H. J. Dyos, whose pioneering study of the suburbs of Victorian and Edwardian London characterized the social functions of the suburbs as ‘providing the environment for the satisfaction of many needs of the family, and containing some facilities for leisure pursuits’.3 –2–

An Introduction to the Suburban Century These basic social and spatial components of the suburbs are central to the working definition adopted throughout this discussion of the suburban century in England and the United States. As Thorns argues, however, while suburban areas could share these characteristics, they were not all the same. Spatially, for example, they differed in size and in distance from the town or city centres. Socially, suburbs varied considerably in terms of occupational-class composition. Many suburbs, furthermore, were planned while many more were not. Hence Thorn’s AngloAmerican ‘suburban typology’ divides suburbs into, among other categories, planned middle-class and planned working-class residential, unplanned middleclass and unplanned working class-residential developments, and both planned and unplanned industrial suburbs in factory districts.4 This book is mostly concerned with middle- and working-class suburbs in England and the United States. The middle classes dominated suburban living during the early twentieth century, but there were some working-class suburbs in both the United States and England by 1900. The working classes, moreover, increasingly penetrated the suburbs as the century wore on. Here, some further definitions are required. For the United States, a recent study has provided a three-fold suburban typology for the period to 1950. There were, and still are, the purely residential suburbs, most closely identified with the middle classes, where home ownership was paramount, and houses were often large and detached. Some of the earliest of these were planned within the garden suburb or ‘romantic suburb’ movement. Many were high-class copies of such experiments. But there were other purely residential suburbs. In common with Thorns, the urban historian Richard Harris notes the more modest suburbs and unplanned suburbs of the lower middle classes and some affluent blue-collar households. Incomes and thus homes were smaller, but people could enjoy the benefits of a home away from the city or town centre. Second, Harris highlights industrial suburbs, those suburbs that sprang up near to factories and other sites of employment, where a purely suburban residential tone was less in evidence, but which afforded their inhabitants some aspects of suburban living. While often mixed in population, industrial suburbs were more likely to be characterized by blue-collar households. Third, there were many fringe settlements that were politically self-incorporated.5 Here was a key difference with English suburbs: the self-governing suburbs of the wealthy that remained aloof from the city and its political administration. They were, and still remain, able to pass their own ordinances and by-laws, and have often done so in order, for example, to keep ‘outsiders’ from their residential enclaves. More generally, however, through an extension of Harris’s typology, it will be seen in later chapters that after 1950 the number and extent of purely residential suburbs grew rapidly. Furthermore, the many small fringe settlements were to provide the basis for ‘edge city’ developments since 1970. –3–

Suburban Century In England, the suburban contexts to be discussed in this book may be summarized as follows. There were the residential, middle-class, owner-occupied suburbs of large detached houses, some famous examples of which were consciously planned within the garden-suburb movement. There were, furthermore, the less prestigious but still sought-after middle-class estates of small detached and semi-detached houses. Despised for their lack of planning, these were largely a sprawling product of the inter-war years, although the post-war years saw the growth of smaller suburban areas populated by both lower middle- and affluent working-class households. But England possessed a suburban social constituency largely absent from the American suburbs, except for some of the public-housing programmes in the United States. This was the suburban working-class tenant of the local council. Following the Housing Act of 1919, which introduced council housing, millions of working-class households rented from the local authority, in estates known colloquially as ‘council estates’. This has been termed ‘corporation suburbia’ by at least one historian.6 The cottage-style council estates of corporation suburbia were modelled according to the Tudor Walters Report, an influential planning document published in the Great War. Yet new suburbs were not the sum total of the new housing developments and the new communities of the twentieth century. Also to be included within this book are some of the most famous planned new towns of twentieth-century England and the United States. It was noted above that in quantitative terms, the United States and England possessed different levels of suburbanization by 1900. That is true, but in a qualitative sense: that is, in terms of the type of residential environment that people preferred and sought after, there was a fascinating cultural similarity between Americans and the English. This is because in both countries the gardencity and garden-suburb movements were at the heart of the ‘Anglo-American’ tradition of town planning and domestic architecture. This tradition began with the garden cities and suburbs of Victorian and Edwardian England, which culminated in the Edwardian garden city at Letchworth, and Welwyn Garden City, begun after the First World War. Letchworth and Welwyn were the creations of the reformer Ebenezer Howard, and both he and his garden cities have generated an enormous literature. A key theme of this literature is that English planned garden suburbs exerted a strong contemporary influence on American romantic suburbs.7 The American urban historian Robert L. Fishman has gone so far as to argue that ‘American suburbia [began] as a virtual clone of earlier English models.’8 This was because key planners from England and the United States often interacted with each other, exchanging ideas, visiting existing experiments, and absorbing lessons and ideas. They were inextricably a part of the history of ‘Atlantic Crossings’ between British and American intellectuals discussed in Daniel T. Rodger’s book.9 As Kenneth T. Jackson has argued, although the nomenclature of the American metropolis reflects English precedents, American suburbanization developed its –4–

An Introduction to the Suburban Century own expansive and original dynamics during the twentieth century: urban growth became an unstoppable sprawl that transformed the United States into the world’s most truly ‘suburban’ nation by the late twentieth century.10 Robert Fishman, however, maintains that England remained wedded to a classic pattern of suburban living based upon suburban rings that were much closer to, and interdependent with, the urban core. Hence England, not the United States, deserves to be viewed as the suburban nation.11

Anti-Suburbanism and the Historiography of the Suburbs: the United States Until relatively recently, there were not many histories of the suburbs. It is not unfair to argue, furthermore, that much of the existing historiography was usually critical, and sometimes bitterly so, about the rise of suburbanization. For Lewis Mumford, the famous authority on urbanization, the suburbs were a miserable retreat from a truly engaged, urbane and cultured city life. They were, he fearfully alleged, a bleak manifestation of mass society. In his book The City in History, first published in 1961, Mumford argued that the original dream of escape from the overcrowded city to more knowable and attractive communities on the edge of town had become a nightmare. With the suburban boom in the United States of the 1950s in mind, he argued that the ‘ultimate outcome of the suburbs’ alienation from the city’ was manifest in a shallow and lamentable passivity of suburbanites in mass industrial society: In the mass movement into suburban areas a new kind of community was produced, [a] multitude of uniform, unidentifiable houses, lined up inflexibly, at uniform distances, on uniform roads, in a treeless communal waste, inhabited by people of the same class, the same age group, witnessing the same television performances, eating the same tasteless prefabricated foods, from the same freezers, conforming in every outward and inward respect to a common mould, manufactured in the central metropolis. Thus the ultimate effect of the suburban escape in our time is, ironically, a low-grade uniform environment from which escape is impossible.12

Mumford’s negative appraisal was shared by subsequent American historians. For example, Sam Bass Warner’s work was, as one historian has recently argued, ‘preoccupied with the shallowness of communal life’ in the suburbs of Boston and other American cities.13 Similar positions are to be found in other, more recent works, for example Kenneth T. Jackson’s magisterial synthesis Crabgrass Frontier (first published in 1985), and J. John Palen’s The Suburbs (1995), a peerless introductory textbook for both historians and sociologists of American suburbia. Each of these books has great strengths, but neither professes much warmth toward –5–

Suburban Century their subject. Both view the suburbs as weaker vessels for a truly active and meaningful life than the allegedly more urbane and lively city centres. Crabgrass Frontier, a book that spans both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, makes a number of evaluations to the effect that life was more genuinely sociable in the predispersal slums and inner-urban housing areas than in the suburban subdivisions. And Palen’s The Suburbs argues that central cities are generally more fulfilling places to live than the suburbs, but that a preference for suburban convenience has undermined those city centres as people migrated away from them to their dream home.14 Palen’s book, moreover, contains a dedication ‘For Karen, a city soul living in the suburbs’. Poor Karen, is the obvious conclusion to be inferred from this. Other negative appraisals of suburbanization in the United States have been made, from a variety of concerns. Suburban dependence upon public transportation and – increasingly during the twentieth century – the motor car, killed off ‘the walking city’ and created a gas-guzzling nation of people unable to exist without the automobile.15 Today, moreover, the motor car and suburbanization are at the heart of the professional view, articulated by many architects and urban reformers, that towns and cities in the United States are fast approaching environmental unsustainability. The suburban home, moreover, stood accused for other reasons. It was viewed by a number of influential writers as too family-centred and materialistic; hence it encouraged the formation of an atomized nation. The famous social observations of the 1950s, David Reisman’s The Lonely Crowd, and William H. Whyte’s The Organization Man, became the first points of reference for appraisals of the quality of social life in the suburbs, not just for historians, but for a number of cultural and social commentators. Unlike the older urban centres, or the rural village or small towns, the suburbs appeared to be the bastion of home-centred, socially competitive and falsely sociable young up-and-comers. They appeared to live lives dominated by commuting patterns, by status competition, and by corporate and conservative values.16 North American suburbs were also criticized for their racial and ethnic exclusiveness. Before the 1960s, especially, they have often been characterized as almost wholly white, about as vanilla as it was possible to be, an alleged consequence of ‘white flight’ to the suburbs as African Americans and other ethnic minorities of colour migrated to the poorer parts of town.17 That interpretation, as Palen notes, was never fully accurate. Minorities ‘in many respects remain invisible persons when it comes to the suburbs’.18 Palen’s is one of a few recent attempts to highlight the suburbanization of ethnic minorities of colour. More recent work by Rosalyn Baxandall and Elizabeth Ewen, Nicholas Dagen Bloom and Andrew Wiese, focuses attention on the suburbanization and the suburban experiences of black Americans.19 –6–

An Introduction to the Suburban Century A further critical assessment of suburbia may be summarized as follows: the suburbs are not what they were. This is the theme of two books, Mark Baldassare’s Trouble in Paradise (1986) and Robert Fishman’s Bourgeois Utopias (1987). Baldassare documents the growing urbanization of the suburbs as a consequence of the movement of industry and commerce to the suburbs, or ‘edge city’ development. He also acknowledges the accompanying ethnic diversity of North American suburbs since 1970, and the increasingly elderly population in the suburbs than was the norm during the 1950s. That older more homogenous pattern thus gave way to a newer more complex pattern of suburbanization and of suburban living. Robert Fishman has observed what he sees as the decline of the middle-class ideal of countrified, quiet and reserved suburban living during the twentieth century, especially the post-war period. Instead, the suburbs have become increasingly urbanized, that is, hemmed in or cut through by further suburban development and its accompanying paraphernalia of roads, housing, offices, and retail and office parks. Classic suburban living has been rendered more difficult by such urbanization. Fishman views all this in terms of ‘the technoburb’.20 This is the decentralized suburban city based upon high-tech industries, whose social and economic interactions are dependent upon communications technologies. This process, Fishman has argued, in one of the few directly comparative pieces on American and English suburbia, had, by the late 1980s, transformed the metropolitan regions of the United States much more than in England. As noted, then, Fishman sees England as still more classically ‘suburban’ in two ways. First, because of planning controls and land shortages, the scale of English ‘Silicon Valley’ development has been relatively and absolutely smaller than that in the United States. Second, and in relation to this, most English towns and cities adhere more closely to the model of viable town-centres with suburban rings.21 The present book aims to enable readers to make judgements on these differing positions.

Anti-suburbanism and the Historiography of the Suburbs: England In England, there is a smaller historiography of suburbanization. Some suburban histories are subsumed within wider studies of the middle classes, and are concerned with the nineteenth century and with the years before the Second World War.22 Nonetheless there are a number of significant historical studies focused on suburbia and suburbanization. H.J. Dyos was among the first important historians of suburbia in post-war England, although he too was writing about the Victorian suburbs. He viewed the Victorian middle-class suburbs as in a state of ‘semidetachment’ from the city centre, albeit a semi-detachment that was undone by the growth of public transportation systems, and by subsequent urbanization, which brought the two closer together in both space and time.23 F.M.L. Thompson, in the –7–

Suburban Century introduction to his edited book The Rise of Suburbia (1981), was also mostly concerned with Victorian suburbs. Thompson stated that suburbia is ‘an unlovely, sprawling artefact of which few are particularly fond’.24 That simple sentence repays interrogation, because it is nothing more than an erroneous value judgement. If few were ‘particularly fond’ of the suburbs, it may be asked, why have people elected in such increasingly large numbers to live in them? Arthur Edwards, in his book The Design of Suburbia, published in the same year as Thompson’s book, does not really answer this question, although at least he was concerned with the twentieth century. Edwards knew what he liked: the large, spacious, romantic, multi-faceted suburban houses of Letchworth and the English garden suburbs. He also professed a qualified admiration for some simple but solid designs for modern housing later in the century. Beyond that, however, Edwards could scarcely conceal his dislike for suburban mass housing.25 Ultimately, neither Edwards nor Thompson felt driven to investigate the attractions of suburban living from the perspective of suburbanites. They, like most historians of suburbia at that time, were concerned more with architects, builders and town planners than with suburbanites and their values and aspirations. There was, however, one exception during the early 1980s to the negativism that informed so much of the historiography of the English suburbs. The architectural writers Paul Oliver, Ian Davis and Ian Bentley’s advocacy of the twentiethcentury semi-detached suburban home, Dunroamin: The Suburban Semi and its Enemies, first published in 1981, was a timely riposte to the critics of suburban housing. Yet it was also an architectural and stylistic history, rather than a social history. As in the United States, academic criticisms not only of the suburban environment but of suburban social life were influenced in no small part by sociologies of the 1950s. Reisman’s and Whyte’s findings were contemporaneously reported in England. However, a native tradition of ‘community studies’ sociology, dominated by Peter Willmott and Michael Young’s studies of East London and Essex, also influenced English debates about the quality of suburban life. Willmott and Young investigated the suburbs of the later 1950s and 1960s and pronounced them communally inferior to the once proud, but declining, working-class urban heartlands in the towns and cities.26 The attack did not stop in the 1950s. Drawing on Willmott and Young’s work, writers within the field of cultural studies have since lamented the conformity, and the petty status rivalries, of the suburbs when compared to older urban communities.27 Historians also make the point that the suburbs are, politically, an essentially conservative arena of political ideology and behaviour, full of dull white conformists.28 Such crass characterizations flow from a gaping hole in the historiography of English suburbia. In terms of ethnicity, the suburbs have been treated as largely –8–

An Introduction to the Suburban Century white middle-class or white working-class. A woeful lack of history on the multiracial nature of suburban England is still very much in evidence, and even the most recent historiography has little to say about this fascinating and complex aspect of the social evolution of contemporary England. Hence later chapters of this book attempt to provide some new findings about the ethnic diversity of English suburbs.

The Recent Historiography of the Suburbs in the United States and England There are signs that suburban historiography is maturing, in the sense that there is more work that is less immediately negative in its approach to its subject. As the American historian Stuart Blumin has argued, the later twentieth century witnessed a growing interest in suburbanization and, within that growing interest, antisuburban snobbery did not have it all its own way. This had a lot to do with the fact, as Blumin emphasizes, that many young or middle-aged historians have grown up in countries that were increasingly suburban.29 A number of more recent suburban histories of the United States have been less condemnatory toward the suburbs, and the tenor of historical analyses of suburbia is changing. Much suburban history is written by historians who are themselves from suburban backgrounds.30 Blumin’s point holds true for historians from England where, increasingly, a number of quite recent histories have adopted more nuanced, even favourable, approaches to suburbanization. Alan A. Jackson, for example, a youth in London during the 1930s, witnessed at first hand the suburban expansion of inter-war London. He is mostly sympathetic to the suburban aspirations and lifestyles of the middle classes.31 Richard Harris and Peter Larkham are younger examples. In the preface to their recent edited collection, Changing Suburbs, the editors point out that ‘We are both children of the English suburbs’. Larkham, a historian and geographer, was raised in a suburban semi-detached house built during the 1950s, and currently lives in one built between the wars, in Birmingham. His discussions and analyses are sympathetic and accepting of the status quo, rather than embittered by urbanist preferences. Harris, also a historian and geographer, who professes a ‘love-hate relationship’ with the suburbs, was also raised in suburban Birmingham.32 Harris and Larkham are by no means alone as scholars with an English suburban background. This writer, for example, was raised in a three-bedroomed semi-detached house in Reading, Berkshire. There are, however and moreover, strong signs that, beyond the discipline of history, writers concerned with urban affairs in both countries are becoming less uptight about suburbanization. In the United States, notably, Joel Garreau’s Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (first published in 1991) is a genuinely enthusiastic

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Suburban Century account of the contemporary expansion of suburban America’s great metropolitan areas. As Garreau’s title suggests, in the edge cities of the metropolitan fringe millions of Americans are moving in, making money, building communities, and continually pushing forward the pioneering American Dream. And in the year 2000, the American suburbs found a passionate advocate in Tom Martinson, a town planner based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His book, American Dreamscape, challenges fashionable urbanist views and assumptions that the United States has become tired of suburban living, and emphasizes the continuing appeal of the suburban dream. Martinson is fully aware of the environmental and social critique of the suburbs, but he questions potentially unpopular attempts to solve the problems of car pollution or urban congestion by reducing house and plot sizes, and increasing densities, in suburban areas.33 In England, a variety of writers have recently sprung to the defence of suburbs. Alison Ravetz and Richard Turkington, both urban sociologists, gave an empathetic account of the attractions of a variety of English homes in their 1995 book, The Place of Home.34 More recently still, the writer Paul Barker has drawn attention to edge-city-style developments in England, and gone so far as to argue that these new urban developments are successful and popular places.35 Yet Barker is consciously addressing an influential elite: those urbanists within the professions of architecture, town planning, and also journalism, who think that the suburban day is done, or more accurately, that the suburban century has ended and that suburbia should pass away with it. As this present book intends to show, however, the suburban dynamics of the twentieth century, in both the United States and England, were too deeply rooted and too extensive to be so readily dismissed quite so soon into the twenty-first century. That in itself is a good enough reason for a study of suburbanization in both countries, but there are further compelling justifications.

Why a Comparative History of English and American Suburbanization? By the year 2000, as noted above, both the United States and England were dominated by suburban living. Suburbia, however, was considerably and positively more diverse than at the beginning of the century. Both countries were, moreover, largely industrial societies by mid-century, and both witnessed the demise of their industrial bases, and the growth of an increasingly post-industrial economy during the post-war period. In the United States and England, the social and economic momentum of the transition from an industrial to a post-industrial economy undermined the viability of industrial city centres, while the social and economic strength of the suburbs accumulated.

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An Introduction to the Suburban Century In terms of a variety of cultural products, moreover, England and the United States enjoyed a special relationship. Films do not have to be dubbed or subtitled as they do in non-English-speaking countries. The same condition applied to television programmes. An Anglo-American culture of popular music, moreover, dominated international youth culture by the 1960s, a culture which has evolved with only minimal penetration from non-English speaking countries since. Within American and English film, television and popular music, suburbia has been a recurring theme. In American cinema, the 1940s classic It’s a Wonderful Life (United States, 1946) was an early post-war example of many movies – happy, sad or indifferent – about suburbanites in the post-war period. The ‘golden age’ movies such as Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) and The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956) are broadly sympathetic to the struggles of male suburbanites to maintain their family and their suburban dream.36 Others films, such as The Family Man, ‘explore possibilities that suburbia is a respectable and viable component of American culture’.37 A number of notable films, however, dealt with the pathology of suburbia, notably No Down Payment during the 1950s and Over the Edge released in 1979. And sometimes anti-suburban feeling found an imaginative outlet in late twentiethcentury North American feature film. It was as if, both consciously and perhaps unconsciously, screenwriters and directors dreamed up imaginative ways to put an end to suburbia. In Dawn of the Dead (1979), rotting zombie corpses threw off their graves and grew rapaciously carnivorous in suburban streets and shopping malls. Genetically resurrected dinosaurs crashed over white picket fences and through manicured lawns in Jurassic Park (1997), and in Poltergeist (1982) vicious spirits came through the television screens into the erstwhile sanctuary of suburban living rooms. It was as if suburbia disrespected something that once roamed the land, and that something was now making its comeback. Generally, then, it has been argued that North American cinema has tended to view suburbia as either a haven or a hell, within a fairly limited range of conventions.38 English suburbia received a risible and mocking treatment in films that have largely viewed suburbanites as sad repressed characters, or at best as people deserving of sympathy. The classic Brief Encounter, made soon after the end of the Second World War, depicted a mild-mannered woman in a bland and unfulfilling marriage, who was forced to choose between two men: her boring but dependable husband, or a doctor whom she met regularly at a train station. In an era when divorce was still difficult to obtain, she chose to stay with her husband in their comfortable suburban home. There is of course a much smaller history of commercial cinema film-making in Britain compared to that in the United States. And it is relevant to note that in – 11 –

Suburban Century English ‘realist’ films the gritty life of working-class communities was more commonly dealt with than suburbia. Notably, however, director Mike Leigh’s films, in particular Life is Sweet (1990), Secrets and Lies (1996) and High Hopes (1998), respectively adopted rather patronizing or mawkish attitudes toward their suburban characters. Leigh has been described as ‘the satirist of the suburbs’, and his television play from the late 1970s, Abigail’s Party, most strongly revealed his contempt for suburbanites.39 The small screen was perhaps more diverse in its representations of suburbia. In the United States, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver were staple and much-loved television fare of the 1950s and 1960s, as were The Wonder Years, Father Knows Best, Growing Pains, Married . . . With Children and Malcolm in the Middle during the 1980s and the 1990s. Moreover, a number of black suburban sitcoms, for example Kenan and Kel and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, have registered and reflected the experiences of African Americans in suburbia. Within a different genre, The Simpsons cartoon, a hugely popular series in both the United States and England during the 1990s, also featured black and Asian characters. The Simpsons represented a huge shift in the backdrop for television cartoon characters since the 1950s. Earlier post-war animation staples on American TV had been located squarely in the city, notably Top Cat (Boss Cat), which was set in Hoagy’s Alley, New York. The Simpsons, however, are suburban characters, as are the Texas families in King of the Hill. Living in a house with garden, running two cars, and mocking the norms of suburban respectability in both word and deed, the Simpsons are an ironically dysfunctional but classically nuclear family. (Incidentally, the gradual move toward a more suburban background in American television cartoons was paralleled by the increasing presence of suburbia in American comic books. Batman’s Gotham and the main streets and back streets of the city in Spiderman remained backdrops for their adventures in, respectively, the DC and Marvel comics. Batman and Spiderman are still popular, but suburbia became the context for many contemporary cartoon books of the late twentieth century. Peter Bagge’s The Bradleys and Studs Kirby are, respectively, a screwedup suburban family and a maniacal right-wing obsessive, while Gilbert Hernandez’ Love and Rockets depicts the trials, dangers and pleasures for young people living in multi-cultural Los Angeles.)40 In England, one of the first post-war television representations of a drowsy English suburb was ‘East Cheam’ in Tony Hancock’s Hancock’s Half Hour, screened in 1956. But English television’s golden age of suburban situation comedies was the decade of the 1970s. The Good Life, Citizen Smith, Bless This House, Happy Ever After, and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin remain among the best-known and most-loved television series. During the 1990s, Keeping Up Appearances and the surreal-realism of One Foot in the Grave both proved – 12 –

An Introduction to the Suburban Century extremely popular with television audiences.41 Few blacks made it to the television suburbs of England, however. The exception was ‘Mick’ in Channel Four’s longrunning soap opera, Brookside, set in a dysfunctional suburban cul de sac in Liverpool. And in The Buddha of Suburbia, a 1993 BBC series, the main character was a young Asian-Indian man living in South London who felt that for truly artistic people, suburbia was a dead zone. David Bowie’s accompanying soundtrack album played the same refrain.42 In American popular music, moreover, a reaction against alleged suburban conformity or the stifling claustrophobia of suburbia has also been a marked theme from the 1960s to the present. The Cantors, for example, in The American Century, view rock music as a form of adolescent protest against a stifling and sexually repressed middle-class culture of the 1950s.43 It is commonplace for discussions of popular music and suburbia to include Pete Seeger’s 1962 song ‘Little Boxes’, an attack on the sameness of suburban construction and the alleged conformity it produced. Other songs of the 1960s and early 1970s include The Monkees’ ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, Albert Hammond’s ‘Free Electric Band’ and perhaps MC5’s ‘Human Being Lawnmower’. Later American – and also Canadian – rock songs also adopted the anti-suburban riff, for example ‘Out of Vogue’ (1978) by The Middle Class, and ‘Subdivisions’ (1982) by the Canadian rock band Rush.44 English popular music of the 1960s produced a number of entertaining and catchy songs about suburbia. The Bonzo Dog Band, for example, lampooned excessive privatism and territorialism in ‘My Pink Half of the Drainpipe’.45 But anti-suburbanism really came of age in punk rock during the years from 1976 to 1979. English punk was in large part a reaction to the boredom of both middleclass and working-class suburban life.46 This was crystallized in two songs: the Sex Pistol’s ‘Satellite’, which in its earliest manifestation had been called ‘Suburban Kid’, and The Member’s record ‘The Sound of the Suburbs’. And in song lyrics throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a wide variety of acclaimed rock and pop artistes including Blur, David Bowie, The Police, The Pet Shop Boys and Suede portrayed the suburbs as sad and lonely, or risibly narrow-minded.47 As with film, pop music provided some quirky insights, but disdain for the narrowness of suburban life was paramount. This book is, in part, an attempt to rescue suburbia from the enormous condescension of the rich, young and trendy, in both countries. A further and much stronger justification for a comparative approach to American and English suburbanization rests in what might be termed their non-European pattern of urban development. Whereas the European city ‘grew like a crab, casting its shell at intervals, and forming a new one’, the English city by contrast ‘grew like lichen, in an irregular formless manner, spreading along roads, engulfing villages, and leaving here and there pockets of countryside, to form parks’.48 But if the European city grew like a crab, and the English city grew like lichen, then the American city grew like lichen on a course of growth hormones. American suburbs – 13 –

Suburban Century have spread out enormously, and rapidly, into the surrounding open country. This is partly because of a faster-growing population; partly because there was more land to expand into and, in consequence, partly because American planning controls on land-use have been less restrictive than those in England. Nonetheless, the shared ‘lichen’-like growth, and the predominance of houses as opposed to flats in English and American suburbia, when compared to growth in the more compact European city, amount to a further key justification for a study of Anglo-American suburbanization. As a 1998 study noted, ‘the aspiration to an arcadian, single-use area, single-family house lifestyle is more developed in the Anglo-Saxon world than in Continental Europe.’49 This aspiration also includes Australia and Canada. It is, moreover, a multi-cultural world. Hence this book will also include references to Australia and Canada where relevant, and the multi-cultural appeal of the suburbs will be emphasized. With specific regard to England and the United States, there are some other obvious differences between suburban contexts. As the feminist historian of town planning, Clara Greed, has argued, the United States is more affluent than England, ‘houses are larger, and cities are much more dispersed, with some suburbs extending over 50 miles from the centre’.50 The United States moreover, has possessed higher levels of automobile ownership than England since the 1920s, and this, to some extent, has further facilitated the extensive use of space because of the demand for wide, fast roads. But that is not the only reason. The United States is huge in comparison to England, and its population of 270 millions enjoys much more space than the English. By the year 2000, the area of the United States covered 9,372,610 square kilometres, with an average density of just 29 people per square kilometre. England, by contrast, the most populous and largest country within the United Kingdom, amounts to just 130,360 square kilometres, and contains a population of nearly 48 millions. The average UK population density is 238 people per square kilometre.51 And herein lies an important point. Within the UK, it is England that suburbanized most extensively over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To be sure, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have undergone a measure of suburbanization,52 but much less so than England. Glasgow, for example, produced the notable middle-class suburb of Kelvinside,53 yet this Scottish city was characterized by a city-centre tradition of tenements and tenement living which has been likened more to that of Scandinavian and Northern European cities than to English cities south of the border.54 Northern Irish cities and suburbs, with their particular religious and political patchworks, and a complex urban pattern of social mix and conflicted segregation, deserve fuller treatment than can be given here. Similarly, the many small and more self-contained cities and towns of Wales require detailed studies, rather than to be simply subsumed within the category of ‘English’. Yet too many histories of suburbanization purport to be about Britain, – 14 –

An Introduction to the Suburban Century when in fact they are in fact wholly, or 99.9 per cent, about England.55 This does not mean that these countries deserve to be ignored, however, when their experience evokes a compelling similarity to, or a significant difference from, the English and American experience. So these countries are, nonetheless, as for Canada and Australia, included where relevant in this book. Within any comparative history, attention to contextual issues is important. For despite the broad similarities, the history of the United States and England has possessed profound differences. Both must be emphasized in order to gain an illuminating – dare we say, accurate – historical account. As the late David Englander argued, ‘All history is comparative history’: for without the drawing of comparisons the relationship between the unique and the general could never be known and history, as a discipline, would be impossible. [Comparative history] assists in posing new questions, defining historical problems, separating necessary and contingent factors, identifying broad patterns, and testing the validity of both specific and general hypotheses.56

Comparative historical research, furthermore, enables the historian to make ‘the challenging generalisation over the closed conclusion’,57 based upon the careful consideration and evaluation of materials drawn from at least one national context. Such a position is extremely useful when attacking the closed and negative conclusions that are still uncritically deployed in contemporary arguments about ‘the suburbs’.

The Key Themes of this Book This book is primarily a social history of suburbanization. The general approach, however, borrows from urban history and town-planning history, and also from sociology. Chapter 2 explores the relationship of suburbanization to economic and technological change over the course of the century. It is impossible to fully comprehend social change in towns and cities without a strong general understanding of the expansion of public transport, the rise and rise of the motor car, and the impact of communications technologies upon urban and suburban life. In relation to this, we also need to know why industry and employment dispersed to the suburbs, and to be aware of its consequences for society and for town and city life. Furthermore, official planning policy also promoted urban dispersal, and many people moved to newly planned communities. Hence the experiments in planned new housing developments must take their place in any discussion of the suburban century. Yet structural forces were in no way the sum total of the forces driving suburbanization. These were fundamentally social and cultural in origin. In chapter 3, the – 15 –

Suburban Century social sources of suburbanization are encapsulated in the term ‘the suburban aspiration’. This was an ideal which encompassed, in no small part, a collective wish-list on the part of millions of people. This included a desire to escape the perceived inadequacies of the city centres; a longing for a comfortable and materially well-provisioned house; the love of the garden, or at least an outdoor private space; and the pursuit of a high-quality residential tone, and social exclusivity. This aspiration was also satisfied in the new housing areas of many new towns, notably in the New Deal greenbelt towns of 1930s America, and in some post-war new towns. The same was true for many English garden suburbs and new towns. The increasingly multi-cultural diversity of the Anglo-American suburb is a recurring theme throughout this book, but it is directly discussed in Chapters 4 and 5. The experiences of African Americans and of blacks in England, of Jews, and of many different Asian groups, have not been fully synthesized in a comparative history before, yet millions of people in England and the United States who did not conform to any ‘Anglo-Saxon’ stereotype moved to the suburbs. Debates about the quality of women’s life in the suburbs, and the arguments for and against ‘suburban neurosis’ and the ‘new town blues’ in England, and ‘suburban sadness’ and the ‘new-town blues’ in the United States, form the subject matter of Chapter 6. One key finding was that the problems facing many women, while by no means absent, were exaggerated. Furthermore, the proponents of the view that women were cruelly isolated in the suburbs often saw women as merely passive victims of suburban circumstance; hence they failed to address the very real and active social life of women. Chapter 7, therefore, discusses not only the local but also the wider series of relationships in which women were actively involved. These relationships were part of a wider pattern of sociability and contact, a pattern that varied from local and informal friendships and neighbourliness to more formal interactions embracing sports, leisure, civic, religious, philanthropic and other interest-based groups, clubs and associations. It will be seen that motor cars and communications technologies, so often viewed in terms of their destructive potential for human interaction, were often the glue that held suburban life together for both women and men. Chapter 8 discusses party political readings of suburban voting behaviour since the 1940s. This approach allows us to have our cake and eat it. There is no reason to agree with the contemporary views of some political analysts that the suburbs were essentially conservative. Nonetheless, it was certainly the case that the Democrat Party in the United States, and the Labour Party in England were fearful lest the suburbs become natural conservative territory. This was because the Republican and Conservative victories in national elections during the 1950s and the 1980s were seen, by key figures in the Democratic and Labour parties, to be largely consequential upon their appeal to suburban voters. This perception, it will be argued, stimulated a revisionist approach to party discourse and policy designed – 16 –

An Introduction to the Suburban Century to modernize the Labour and Democrat parties in order to make them electorally attractive to ‘the suburbs’. This happened, and thus did the suburbs achieve an electoral hegemony consequent with their size and influence during the post-war years. Chapter 9 summarizes the key conclusions of the book, and discusses these in relation to current debates within both England and the United States about urban renewal, and the so-called ‘new urbanism’. For ‘new urbanism’, currently so fashionable among architects, town planners and politicians in both countries, is an explicit challenge to demonstrably popular forms of suburban housing.

Notes 1. On the United States, see Stuart M. Blumin, ‘The centre cannot hold: historians and the suburbs’, Journal of Policy History, 2/1, 1990, p. 119; J. John Palen, The Suburbs (New York, 1995), pp. 2–3. On England, see Mark Clapson, Invincible Green Suburbs, Brave New Towns: Social Change and Urban Dispersal in Postwar England (Manchester, 1998), pp. 41–6. 2. Paul Burall, ‘Connections’, Town and Country Planning, August/September 1998, inside back cover; William Schneider, ‘The suburban century begins’, Atlantic Monthly, 270/1, 1992, pp. 33–44. 3. David C. Thorns, Suburbia (London, 1972), pp. 31–3. 4. Ibid., p. 83. 5. Richard Harris, ‘The making of American suburbs, 1900–1950s: a reconstruction’, in Richard Harris and Peter J. Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs: Foundation, Form and Function (London, 1999), pp. 93–4. 6. Richard Turkington, ‘British “corporation suburbia”: the changing fortunes of Norris Green, Liverpool’, in Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, pp. 56–75. 7. John Archer, ‘Country and city in the American romantic suburb’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, XLII/2, 1983, pp. 139–56. 8. Robert L. Fishman, ‘American suburbs/English suburbs: a transatlantic comparison’, Journal of Urban History, 13/3, 1987, p. 238. 9. Daniel T. Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge, MA, 1998). 10. Kenneth T. Jackson, ‘Suburbanization in England and North America: a response to “transatlantic comparison”’, Journal of Urban History, 13/3, 1987, pp. 302–6.

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Suburban Century 11. Fishman, ‘American suburbs/English suburbs’, pp. 237–51. 12. Lewis Mumford, The City in History (Harmondsworth, 1979), p. 553. 13. Blumin, ‘The centre’, p. 118. See Sam Bass Warner, Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870–1900 (Cambridge, MA, 1972); Sam Bass Warner, The Urban Wilderness: A History of the American City (Berkeley, 1995; first published 1972) 14. Palen, The Suburbs, p. 226. 15. Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, (Oxford and New York, 1987), pp. 188–9. 16. Norman F. Cantor with Mindy Cantor, The American Century: Varieties of Culture in Modern Times (New York, 1997), p. 195; Kenneth Fox, Metropolitan The United States: Urban Life and Urban Policy in the United States, 1940–1980 (London, 1985), pp. 63–5. 17. Robert A. Beauregard, Voices of Decline: The Postwar Fate of US Cities (Oxford, 1993), pp. 160–81. 18. Palen, The Suburbs, p. 116. 19. Rosalyn Baxandall and Elizabeth Ewen, Picture Windows: How the Suburbs Happened (New York, 2000); Nicholas Dagen Bloom, Suburban Alchemy: the 1960s New Towns and the Transformation of the American Dream (Columbus, OH, 2001); Andrew Wiese, ‘The other suburbanites: African American Suburbanization in the North before 1950’, Journal of American History, 85/4, 1999, pp. 1495–524. 20. Mark Baldassare, Trouble in Paradise: The Suburban Transformation in The United States (New York, 1986); Robert Fishman, Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia (New York, 1987), pp. 182–205. 21. Fishman, ‘American suburbs/English suburbs’, p. 249. 22. See, for example, Alan A. Jackson, The Middle Classes, 1900–1950 (Nairn, Scotland, 1991); Alan Kidd and David Nichols (eds), Gender, Civic Culture and Consumerism: Middle Class Identity in Britain, 1800–1940 (Manchester, 1999) 23. H.J. Dyos, Victorian Suburb: A Study of the Growth of Camberwell (Leicester, 1966), p. 26. 24. F.M.L. Thompson, ‘Introduction: the rise of suburbia’, in F.M.L. Thompson (ed.), The Rise of Suburbia (Leicester, 1981), p. 2. 25. Arthur Edwards, The Design of Suburbia: A Critical Study in Environmental History (London, 1981) 26. Clapson, Invincible, pp. 9, 14–15, 64–7. 27. Vicky Lebeau, ‘The worst of all possible worlds?’ in Roger Silverstone (ed.), Visions of Suburbia (London, 1997), pp. 280–1, 288–92. 28. For the United States, see Eric Homberger, The Penguin Historical Atlas of North America (Harmondsworth, 1995), p. 128. On England, see Nigel Todd, – 18 –

An Introduction to the Suburban Century

29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35.

36.

37.

38. 39. 40.

41. 42. 43. 44.

45. 46.

47.

‘Suburban history (1918–1950)’, Local Historian, 11/5, 1975, p. 285. See also Chapter 8, below. Blumin, ‘The centre’, pp. 118–19. Ibid., pp. 118–24. Jackson, The Middle Classes. Richard Harris and Peter J. Larkham (eds) ‘Preface’, in Larkham and Harris (eds), Changing Suburbs, pp. xiii–xiv. Tom Martinson, American Dreamscape: The Pursuit of Happiness in Postwar Suburbia (New York, 2000). Alison Ravetz and Richard Turkington, The Place of Home: English Domestic Environments, 1919–2000 (London, 1995). Paul Barker, ‘Edge City’, in Anthony Barnett and Roger Scruton (eds), Town and Country (London, 1998), pp. 206–16; Paul Barker, ‘We should confront the home truths of this housing crisis’, Independent, 4 July 2002; Paul Barker, ‘Why we must save semi-detached man’, London Evening Standard, 23 June 1999. William Sharpe and Leonard Wallock, ‘Bold new city or built-up “burb”? Redefining contemporary suburbia’, in Raymond A. Mohl (ed.), The Making of Urban America (Wilmington, DE, 1997), pp. 324. John Archer, ‘Dreamland and dystopia: representations of suburbia in 20th century American media’, International Planning History Society, Cities of Tomorrow conference abstracts, p. 21. Conference, 10–13 July 2002, held in London; Sharpe and Wallock, ‘Bold new city’, pp. 322–4. Archer, ‘Dreamland’, p. 21. Michael Coveney, The World According to Mike Leigh (London, 1997) For example, Peter Bagge, The Bradleys (Seattle, 1992); Peter Bagge, Studs Kirby: ‘The Voice of America’ (Seattle, 1995); Gilbert Hernandez, Love and Rockets series, particularly, Love and Rockets X (Seattle, 1999). Clapson, Invincible, pp. 10–11. David Bowie, The Buddha of Suburbia (Arista CD, 1993) Cantor and Cantor, American Century, pp. 314–15. Archer, ‘Dreamland’, p. 21; Robert A.M. Stern, ‘The Anglo-American suburb’, in Robert A.M. Stern and John Montague Massengale, The Anglo-American Suburb (London, 1981), p. 4. Bonzo Dog Band, ‘My pink half of the drainpipe’, on The Intro (EMI CD, 1992) Jon Savage, England’s Dreaming: The Sex Pistols and Punk Rock (London, 1992). See also Simon Frith, ‘The suburban sensibility in British pop and rock’, in Silverstone (ed.), Visions of Suburbia, pp. 269–79; Vicky Lebeau, ‘The worst of all possible worlds’, pp. 282–4. Clapson, Invincible, pp. 11–13. – 19 –

Suburban Century 48. Edwards, The Design of Suburbia, p. 5. 49. Michael Gwilliam, Caroline Bourne, Corinne Swain and Anna Prat, Sustainable Renewal of Suburban Areas (York, 1998), p. 9. 50. Clara Greed, Women and Planning: Creating Gendered Realities (London and New York, 1994), p. 41. 51. The Economist, Pocket World in Figures (London, 1998), pp. 212–15; Collins Dictionary of the English Language (London, 1981), p. 485. 52. Emrys Jones, A Social Geography of Belfast (London, 1960), p. 61; Michael Simpson, ‘Urban transport and the development of Glasgow’s West End’, in David Goodman (ed.), The European Cities and Technology Reader: Industrial to Post-Industrial City (London, 1999), pp. 116–24; T. C. Smout, A Century of the Scottish People, 1830–1950 (London, 1986), pp. 32–67; Kenneth O. Morgan, Rebirth of a Nation: Wales, 1880–1980 (Oxford, 1990), pp. 346–7. 53. David Cannadine, ‘Victorian cities: how different?’ in R.J. Morris and Richard Rodger (eds), The Victorian City: A Reader in British Urban History, 1820– 1914 (London, 1993), p. 123. 54. Asa Briggs, Victorian Cities (Harmondsworth, 1990), p. 35. 55. F.M.L. Thompson’s ‘Introduction’ to The Rise of Suburbia sometimes conflates Britain with England, when all four chapters of the book are about England; Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, based primarily upon American, Australian, ‘British’ and Canadian experiences, contains nothing for Wales, and one mention for Scotland. 56. David Englander, ‘Introduction’, in David Englander (ed.), Britain and America: Studies in Comparative History, 1760–1970 (New Haven and London, 1997), p. ix. 57. Ibid., p. x.

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The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal

–2– The City Spreads: Technological, Economic and Official Forces in Urban Dispersal As the clocks of the United States ticked past midnight on 31 December 1899, suburbanization was already well under way. America entered what would become a momentous century of expansion, both at home and abroad. At home, suburbanization was part and parcel of a booming urban population, the modernization of transport and communications, and a fast-growing economy. In England, both urbanization and suburbanization were relatively more extensive by 1900 than in the United States. Unlike the United States, however, Britain would undergo relative decline in the decades to follow. Nonetheless, the spread of suburban housing would be fundamental to the modernization of transport and communications, and to the changing nature of the British economy, over the course of the twentieth century. Hence in both countries, technological innovations and economic changes, both huge and complex in scale and also in their consequences, are examined in this chapter, because they were part of an irreducible ‘chicken and egg’ dynamic in both countries: they provided a powerful momentum to urban dispersal, and urban dispersal was essential to technological and economic change. Urban dispersal, it will be seen, was also an official policy. Both England and the United States attempted programmes of new towns, and the promoters of the new towns did this in part as a reaction to sprawl and the perceived social order of suburbia: they wanted to provide alternatives to unplanned and homogenous suburbia. Yet the American planned experiments were small in scale compared to the English new-towns programme.

Technology and Transportation: Streetcars and American Suburbanization The pre-1900 history of transportation technologies and suburbanization in the United States has been explained elsewhere,1 so it suffices here to briefly summarize those forces which were to influence the nature and extent of twentieth-century suburbanization. Railroad suburbs had been in existence since the mid-nineteenth century. Some of the most beautiful and famous included Llewellyn Park, New – 21 –

Suburban Century Jersey, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, and Lake Forest, Chicago, each of which was built during the 1850s.2 Further railroad suburbs, notable for their domestic architecture and landscaping, were built in the second half of the nineteenth century. They were intended as quasi-rural residences for the wealthy within commuting distance of the city centres. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the era of the railroad suburb had given way to the epoch of the streetcar suburb. While many suburbs would still continue to be served by the railroads, the streetcar suburbs grew more rapidly. As Kenneth T. Jackson’s Crabgrass Frontier makes clear, the railroad and the streetcar had both allowed and encouraged those households who could afford to do so to move away from the town and city centres toward newer and airier homes in the suburbs. The electrification of the streetcar during the latter decades of the nineteenth century brought the trolley bus and the requisite rails and overhead wires to the main streets and thoroughfares of the American city. Also, in 1873 San Francisco introduced the first cable cars which were based upon a moving underground cable. Around the turn of the century, moreover, the north-eastern cities of Boston, New York and Philadelphia introduced subway systems.3 The electric streetcar, however, was the most widespread of these newer forms of electrically-powered mass-transit systems. Earlier forms of urban transit, notably the horse-drawn or mule-drawn streetcar, whose heyday was the antebellum city, began to decline. Electricity was cleaner, and trolleys were faster and smoother, than their animal-drawn predecessors. As trolleys spread, moreover, so economies of scale made them cheaper. By 1903, the 30,000 miles of American street railways were almost totally electrified, and travel was inexpensive. A new and efficient streetcar system became a source of company profit, and of civic pride, and a functional symbol of modernity in the fast-growing American city. More practically, the streetcar enabled people to travel around the city with greater speed and comfort than before, and a key journey for many city dwellers was between home on the city’s fringe and the place of employment in the centre. Property developers saw opportunities in buying up relatively cheaper land on the urban fringes, and in constructing affordable homes there. Hence, many streetcar and subway suburbs were intended for mainstream Americans. Both Kenneth T. Jackson and Sam Bass Warner have emphasized the significance of the streetcar in opening up the suburbs for the poorer folks, and reformers certainly promoted the idea that ‘honest working men’ would be morally and physically improved by living in easily accessible suburbs some distance from the grimy and teeming heart of the city.4 Other streetcar suburbs, however, were built for the wealthy, as ‘model’ or ‘romantic’ suburban developments replete with beautiful landscaping and community and leisure facilities. Many model suburbs were influenced by English garden-city architecture and estate layout.5 – 22 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal The extent of the American adoption of streetcars was quite striking in comparison to that in England and Europe. Even before 1900, American streetcars carried over 2 billion passengers per annum, which was in excess of the streetcar passenger total of the rest of the world.6 Rail-based mass-transit systems assisted the spatial spread of the modern American metropolis. This process was particularly pronounced in the urban-industrial districts of the north-east, where migration aided spatial dispersion and thus the spread of the city. Migration was occurring on two major fronts. After 1900, rural African Americans were beginning to move north in large numbers to seek work in the industrial centres. This internal migration to the city, however, was augmented by immigration. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Italians from Southern Europe were heavily represented in the ‘new immigration’ of the 1890s and thereafter. More accommodation was needed as the central cities became crowded.7 The incoming poor flocked to tenements and to rooms in converted townhouses in the city centres, while those who could afford to do so moved out to those streetcar suburbs. The seeds of twentieth century residential segregation had been sown, and streetcars had helped to sow them.

Technology and Transportation: Trams, Railways and Suburbanization in England The horse-drawn tram was the most common form of intra-urban transportation from mid- to later Victorian England, that is, from the 1860s to the 1890s, and it had stimulated the development of suburbanization on the edges of those cities which introduced tram systems. In Leeds, for example, the introduction of the horse-drawn tram during the 1870s marginalized the smaller horse-drawn omnibus. Subsequently, the electrification of the tramways from 1897 had sent the last horses into retirement or to the knacker’s yard by 1901. The electric tram system in Leeds continued to grow into the 1920s.8 Other cities replaced horse-drawn trams with electric systems, and by their cheapness and speed they encouraged the further spread of suburbanization. For example, the growth of the metropolitan suburb of Bexley in Kent was further stimulated by the electrification of the tramway in 1908.9 Yet the subsequent development of Bexley and parts of northern Kent into suburbs of London was also related to the development of the railway system. By 1914, Britain possessed over 20,000 miles of railway track. Beyond the major trunk lines, the local branch lines of the suburban railway system serviced suburban areas in many large cities. Moreover, in London, the underground railway system, begun during the 1860s, was extended throughout the Victorian years, and into the twentieth century, sometimes with the aid of American investment

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Suburban Century capital.10 Between the wars, new outer London suburbs such as Golders Green, Edgware and Morden were built as the relentless sprawl of the capital gobbled up once green and pleasant rural land in the Home Counties.11 Commuters in these vast new estates used the London Underground which, despite its name, also covered much that was overground by the end of the 1930s. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, and into the early decades of the twentieth, therefore, overground and underground rail brought once small independent market towns and villages within the suburban ambit of the growing metropolis. It is commonplace for urban historians to argue that the majority of suburban residents, who commuted by train during their working days, were middle-class. David Cannadine argues that the English Victorian city was probably more segregated by class than the post-bellum American city. The industrial and commercial middle classes of England moved to the Arcadian peripheries. These were only a few miles spatially, but a million miles in terms of material comfort and environmental quality, when compared with the dirty and overcrowded housing of working-class areas.12 Yet the working classes had begun to penetrate suburbs prior to 1900. The inexpensive trams, and from 1883 the introduction of the Cheap Trains Act, encouraged the development of ‘workers’ suburbs’ along the burgeoning railway network. These were comprised of better-paid skilled sections of the working classes who lived in two-storey terraced houses (row houses) that spread in large swathes from the railway stations of what was in those years still outer London.13 Working-class suburban areas were usually located closer to the centres than were middle-class suburbs, in areas where both fares and accommodation costs were cheaper.14 Some of the least expensive inner-suburban housing was often a consequence of excessive speculative building activities. This led to gluts of housing which were let at reduced rents in order to recoup at least some initial outlay costs.15 Class segregation continued, however. The suburban middle classes were largely ensconced in superior residential developments, while the lowliest sections of the working classes continued to inhabit slums and areas of inadequate housing. Furthermore, most Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe settled in the poorest housing areas of London and other large cities, as they did in the American metropolis, during the late nineteenth century.16 Immigration was a major demographic trend that changed the nature of metropolitan life in both England and the United States. Other transforming forces were also at work. For both nations had witnessed the rise of public transport, as both consequence and cause of the outward movement of the better-off sections of the population to the suburbs. The streetcar suburb was a more dominant form of suburban development by 1900 in the United States, although the trams had enabled suburbanization in many cities and towns in England, and continued to do so. – 24 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal Another form of popular transit was soon to expand suburbanization. Prior to the First World War, the automobile was largely the preserve of the wealthy, but the 1920s witnessed the beginnings of the mass ownership and usage of the motor car.

Motorization and Suburbanization: the United States For those who could afford one, the motor car offered easier and faster mobility, greater choice in direction and navigation around city streets, and more comfortable and individualized travel than was provided by mass public-transit systems. Hence, one writer on technology and urban form has argued that motor cars were enthusiastically adopted by an American urban population growing increasingly out of favour with public transport systems for both social and practical reasons: Mass transit was characterized by crowding, discomfort and inconvenience. [Streetcars] remained crowded and dirty, routes were fixed, service was irregular and unpleasant social intermingling persisted.17

Another important factor to be taken into account was the increasing efficiency of industrialized automobile production in the wake of Henry Ford’s Model T. Mass- produced cars became increasingly inexpensive, and as credit facilities expanded during the 1920s, and as wages rose (prior to the Great Crash of 1929), the prospect of owning an automobile captured the imagination of millions of Americans.18 Hence in their 1920s study of ‘Middletown’, Robert and Helen Lynd found that the automobile was essential for those who had one: it was used to get people to work, as a vehicle for leisure pursuits and relaxation, for speeding up shopping trips, and for a variety of other uses.19 The automobile effectively allowed people to delocalize more easily, to move further afield in the pursuit of work and pleasure. No wonder, then, that between 1920 and 1930 the number of car registrations in the United States leapt from 8 million to 23 million.20 And between the end of the Second World War and the Oil Crisis of 1973, the number of cars rose from 25 million to over 100 million.21 The greater levels of personal mobility offered by the automobile enabled increased choice in housing location, as people realized they could enjoy improved accommodation within convenient, and sometimes not-so-convenient, commuting distances from the city. Many of these new motor car suburbs at the cheaper end of the home-owning market were flung up by real estate developers, and in their lack of immediate facilities they soon earned the pejorative term of ‘bedroom communities’.22 Other suburban residential areas, however, were built for wealthy middle-class American households and provisioned with leisure amenities such as country clubs, parks and a wide variety of sports facilities.23 Established railway or streetcar suburbs for the wealthy, furthermore, such as those in Westchester – 25 –

Suburban Century County, some fifteen miles from New York, saw the addition of beautifully landscaped main roads, called parkways, to improve their communications with the city, and also to provide an attractive driving experience.24 And in Radburn, New Jersey, Clarence Stein and the Regional Planning Association of America planned a radical new suburban community that separated pedestrians from automobiles. Radburn was never fully built, as its construction began prior to the Slump of 1929, a calamity that exacerbated the difficulties that Radburn faced. Radburn’s achievement, encapsulated in both its facilitation and containment of automobiles, may have been small in scale on the ground, but it would become highly influential in later American and English town-planning experiments.25 The development of new and attractive wealthy automobile suburbs or the augmentation of established ones by the motor car was, as the American President’s Research Committee on Social Trends argued, indicative of ‘the general exodus of the upper economic classes from the inner sections of the city’. New suburbs boomed. For example, the population of Elmwood Park, a suburb of Chicago, grew by 716 per cent during the 1920s. Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, grew by over 1000 per cent over the same decade, while the Los Angeles suburb of Beverly Hills grew by 2486 per cent.26 The spectacular growth of Beverly Hills was part of the geographical explosion of Los Angeles, a city which has been viewed by many commentators on urban issues as the quintessential suburban city of the automobile. Between the wars, Los Angeles threw into sprawling relief this rapid growth of the automobile suburb, with its associated lifestyle pattern of easy living based upon car-borne mobility and spacious housing.27 Los Angeles did, in fact, possess a streetcar system, but it was rapidly marginalized by the onset of the automobile. The city threw into sharp relief general decentralization trends and their associated consequences in interwar America, as it became a city of grid roads and highways, and of the posts and wires which were strung up alongside the new roads. These supplied the telephone, and also electric power to the radios, light-bulbs and other functional household appliances in the suburban home. As one authority on urban affairs wrote in 1941, the public utilities had become a centrifugal force because the city-dweller could now enjoy ‘a garden in the country, in a community of curving streets and culs-desac, and still retain the comforts of the city in his home’.28 The ascendancy of the automobile in American life between the wars was consolidated in the post-war years. Continued growth in automobile ownership in the United States was based upon the affluence and material abundance of the postwar boom, to the extent that by the end of the 1970s there was one car for every two persons in the United States.29 Not surprisingly, then, a post-war study of Middletown found that by 1978 the number of miles driven in motor vehicles had tripled in relation to Middletown’s population since the Lynds began their work in the 1920s.30 – 26 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal Suburbs based upon automobile travel proliferated after 1945, and engendered further reliance upon the car. Official transport policies recognized this, and the Federal Government, lobbied by automobile and highway construction interests, embarked upon a major interstate highway-building programme. The Interstate Highway Act of 1956 initiated a heavily subsidized road system.31 In addition to these main motorways, intra-urban roads were built or upgraded, and many thousands of new suburban streets of various shapes and sizes sprang up to link their users into the main road network. The 1980s and 1990s witnessed the continuing proliferation of automobile-dependent suburbs, and the emergence of a new phase of suburban or even ‘post-suburban’ city spread termed ‘edge city’.

Motorisation and Suburbanization in England During the 1930s, the pace of suburbanization slowed down in the United States, even though it did not cease altogether, because of the Great Depression. In England, however, the suburban ascendancy continued throughout both the 1920s and the 1930s, and motorization was increasingly associated with it. For inter-war England was the classic place and time of a rapidly-built ‘semi-detached suburbia’, of symmetrical Siamese-twinned houses built along main roads and new estate roads. Four million houses were built between the wars. Two and a half million were constructed by private developers for home ownership. In addition, as a consequence of the early inter-war Housing Acts, which were attempts to solve the crisis in working-class accommodation, 1.5 million units were built by local councils for rent, and subsidized by central government. The dominant form of these dwellings was semi-detached and suburban. Some, however, were wholly detached, while others were flats or short terraces.32 Cars were not yet fundamental to suburban life in the 1920s and 1930s: for the great majority of those working-class tenants living in council estates, car ownership was impossible.33 Therefore, public transport was the lifeline back to place of work and to former places of residence. Railways and the underground served many estates in London, while motorized urban bus services were routed out to large council estates. On owner-occupied estates, car ownership was higher, but considerably fewer than half the residents of ‘Dunroamin’ could yet afford a car even as late as 1950. Motor car registrations in inter-war Britain were considerably lower in number than in the United States. The number of cars owned rose from 109,000 by 1919 to 2,000,000 by 1939.34 The majority of car owners were middle-class, and that included the lowermiddle-class ‘clerk’, the white-collar office and service workers who, to the gentle mockery of poet John Betjeman, could afford ‘a house at ninety seven down, and – 27 –

Suburban Century once a week a half a crown, for twenty years’.35 Betjeman was writing about Slough, just west of London, a much maligned town comprised in no small part of suburban housing estates. Its location, in the South-east of England, was revealing of the general point that suburbanization was more extensive in that region than in other parts of the country, although few towns and cities were exempted from at least some suburban growth during the 1920s and 1930s.36 As in the United States, a combination of improved mass-production methods producing cheaper cars, and the increasing affluence of those in regular work, brought the motor car within reach of many more people than was possible prior to the First World War. It also enabled them to leave the older terraced housing in the Victorian and Edwardian areas of town, and to move to affordable new houses in the suburbs. Just as the American suburbs had been dubbed ‘bedroom’ suburbs, it is interesting to note that the term ‘dormitory suburbs’ – with all that that implies – was applied to the huge new council and owner-occupied estates of London, which were served by both motor transport and railways.37 As with the United States, the rise of motorization and suburbanization between the wars would be consolidated during the post-war period. Between 1949 and 1966, the proportion of the population possessing at least one car rose from a little over 7 per cent to 53 per cent. By 1966, over a quarter of semi- and unskilled manual workers owned a car, and a half of skilled manual workers did so,38 thus ensuring that the driveways and streets of council estates, and of cheaper owneroccupied estates, were increasingly filled with cars, both moving and stationary. In general, more cars required more roads. In 1956, Britain’s equivalent of the trans-national interstate programme began, with the opening of the Preston bypass in the north-west of England. The first officially named motorway, however, was the M1, opened in 1958 between London and the North of England. The motorway network expanded across the country, and many ‘A’ roads were built or widened and extended. Many new roads were also built, both on new housing estates and in order to link them with the existing road network. By 1985, 62 per cent of Britons owned a car, a consequence of increasing affluence and expectations.39 Unsurprisingly, a 1980s survey found that 57 per cent of Britons felt that their car was indispensable.40 We can be sure that this figure included many millions of English suburbanites, given that the majority of English people lived in suburbs by the end of the 1980s. Transport technologies, most notably motorization, assisted not simply the movement of people and of dwelling places to the suburbs. As the next section demonstrates, the suburbanization of the population was closely followed by the outward movement of businesses and services. This was economic decentralization.

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The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal

Economic Decentralization in the United States During the nineteenth century, and into the early decades of the twentieth, the location of manufacturing establishments, of finance and banking offices, of the town and city halls of local government, and of retail and leisure establishments was mostly in the centre of town. Yet we should not imagine there was no industrial suburbanization. A recent volume of the Journal of Historical Geography is devoted to the rise of industrial suburbs in the United States and Canada between 1850 and 1950.41 During the second half of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth, the forces of economic decentralization grew, and that was during a time of economic and demographic growth when the great American city centres were being established. As the twentieth century developed, however, the working heart of the city centre did decline as factories, plant and offices began to be built from scratch in, or relocated to, the suburbs. The centre of the American city held together before 1941, but following the war decentralization undermined the core of some of America’s towns and cities. The unrelenting growth of motorization and electrification underpinned the process of relocation. Motor trucks enabled goods to be distributed more easily and quickly over wider areas than before, hence manufacturing and distribution establishments no longer needed to be close to railheads and freight terminals. The utilities of electricity and telephones were increasingly extended across American cities from the 1900s. By 1930 over 70 per cent of American homes were supplied with electricity, and the telephone was ceasing to be the preserve of the rich.42 Beyond the home, this provided instant power and immediate verbal communication almost anywhere. Businesses took advantage of the cheaper rents and land costs on the urban fringes when compared with those in the city centre. New companies also opted for cheaper suburban locations.43 The trend continued: during the post-war period, and especially during and since the 1970s, the United States saw a significant shift toward a services-based economy that was more pronounced than in England.44 The growth of suburbanization was dynamically related to these major changes in the American economy, for both manufacturing and the rapidly growing service sectors were increasingly located in the suburbs. This process was first fully identifiable during the 1920s, because it was intertwined with motorization, the growth of the roads network and the extension of utilities which enabled companies to take advantage of the cheaper land and greater space available in suburbs when compared to those of the inner cities. The post-war years massively consolidated the suburban advantage: between 1947 and 1967, central cities lost over 293,000 manufacturing jobs, while manufacturing employment in suburban areas grew by over 3,902,300, a 94 per cent increase.45 By 1981, ‘about two thirds – 29 –

Suburban Century of all manufacturing activity took place in the “industrial parks” and new physical plants of the suburbs’.46 Manufacturing employment, however, was in relative decline. By 1980 it accounted for less than a quarter of American jobs.47 During the later 1950s the conservative sociologist Daniel Bell had predicted the rise of the so-called ‘postindustrial’ economy. For Bell, this never meant the complete annihilation of American manufacturing, but it did mean that white-collar work within the sectors of finance and banking, leisure and tourism, corporate research and development in technologies, in federal and local government bureaucracies and in retail would supersede manufacturing industry as the major structural bases of the American economy.48 The development of improved computing and communications technologies, moreover, facilitated suburbanization by making it easy for companies to decentralize, because management was able to control ‘large and widely dispersed operations.’49 Between 1960 and 1980 the number of people employed in the suburbs more than doubled from 14 million to 33 million.50 As the civilian labour force numbered 102 million by 1980, that meant that almost a third of all jobs were by then undertaken in the suburbs. Therefore, the older classical suburb-to-city-centre-andback commuting trajectory was no longer the major pattern. During the 1980s, it was noted that the decentralization of company location was good for suburban workers, because it cut commuting times. Conversely, however, the outward movement of jobs disadvantaged some African Americans and other city-centre residents who, poorer than suburbanites, were required to spend more money and time getting to work.51 The transition toward an increasingly post-industrial economy had a further impact, a geographical one, within the pattern of increasing suburbanization. The heartlands of the American industrial revolution had been the urban areas of the north-east and the mid-west, which had grown spectacularly between 1877 – the end of the period of reconstruction following the Civil War – and the 1920s. In many areas, coal and anthracite mining, iron and steel production and textiles were major sectors of prosperity. Motor-car manufacturing, established before 1900, also grew significantly in these regions following the First World War. Those sectors experienced considerable economic problems during the later 1920s and 1930s, and were in relative decline vis-à-vis services after 1945, but they remained essential to many urban economies in the mid-west and north-east until the 1970s. However, the economic problems wrought by the Oil Crisis of 1973 and its aftermath exposed weaknesses in American core industries. They began to lose out to international competition, thus accelerating deindustrialization in the United States. Hence during the 1970s, the term ‘rustbelt’, bringing to mind pithead gantries and factory machinery slowly deteriorating into terminal disrepair, began to be applied to these vast regions.52 – 30 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal The economic fortunes of Dixie, and of the states of the south-west and of the west coast, however, were in the ascendant during the post-war years. Here, loosely speaking, was ‘the sunbelt’, as opposed to the ‘rustbelt’ or the ‘frostbelt’ of the northern and mid-western regions of the United States. As deindustrialization occurred across the country, the sunbelt states possessed some key competitive advantages over northern areas. The oil industry, for example, a staple extractive industry, boomed as the American love affair with cars and cheap petrol continued. Non-industrial sectors grew too. In banking and finance, some of the southern and south-western companies were among the most innovative and successful. San Francisco’s Bank of America produced the first bank credit card during the 1960s. The Federal defence and space programmes poured money into the sunbelt states for research and development. Partly as a consequence of that, the telecommunications sector grew massively in the southern half of the United States during the 1960s and since.53 The university ‘science park’, moreover, was an important innovation at Stanford University, in California, an innovation which spread rapidly across the country during the 1950s and afterwards, thus contributing toward the growth of industrial parks and science parks, which incorporated lowrise hi-tech Sunbelt architecture into the suburbs and university areas. Their rationale was the fusion of research with commercial interests.54 Today, anyone who takes a train or a car ride out of the centres of American cities will witness the proliferating number of office parks and distribution centres in the suburbs of those cities, the growing number of leisure amenities and, looming largest of all, the shopping malls. Despite their undoubted popularity, however, a number of writers have been very unkind to what they have viewed as the crass consumerism of malls. The travel writer Bill Bryson, for example, who was born in the United States, but lived for a number of years in England, took a jaded view of impersonal malls in suburban ‘placeless places’ that were springing up across the United States.55 But the mall remains a symbol of that nation’s prosperous suburban identity. Although many city centres were rejuvenated, to some extent, by the inclusion of a glitzy covered mall, most malls were built in suburban locations. By the year 2000, they represented the culmination not simply of a process of retail dispersal, but also of the American Way of Life. A discussion of the suburbanization of retail, therefore, will reveal the more general process of economic decentralization. The suburbanization of shopping began in earnest during the 1920s. Kenneth T. Jackson discusses the relocation or new location of major department stores, notably Sears, to low-density housing areas in the proliferating suburbs whose stores were better placed to capture car-borne consumers. In order to maximize this trade, car parking was added for free.56 The suburban department stores were not immediately responsible for the decline in city-centre shopping in department stores. For example, in Los Angeles, downtown retail sales amounted – 31 –

Suburban Century to $166,000,000 in 1951 compared with $79,000,000 in 1939. Yet as the president of Barker Brothers, a Los Angeles Department store chain, argued in 1952, the percentage in the volume of total trade was falling in the downtown stores, and increasing in the newer suburban ones, where the growing population and the increasing use of automobiles was encouraging the development of new suburban shopping centres.57 The trend continued, and by the later 1950s ‘both population and retail sales volume [were] increasing more rapidly in the suburbs than in the central cities’.58 A great deal of this increasing sales volume was accounted for by shopping strips, otherwise known as strip malls. They too had their origins in the interwar years, and were located on main roads and geared for vehicular rather than pedestrian access. These were mostly unplanned additions to suburban areas, and they came into existence once the local market had been established. They were built by developers who had bought up the land for the shopping strips. Some strips contained department stores, but most were comprised of a supermarket and a range of smaller chain-store shops. The strip malls were often no more than parking lots fronting onto the road, and lined with a row or two of shops. Their inter-war beginnings were greatly augmented by post-war suburban growth, and the shopping strip with its K-Mart, Wal Mart, and a variety of regional chains of supermarkets and smaller stores was a commonplace sight in the United States. By 1990, shopping strips or strip malls still accounted for 87 per cent of all malls, and still took just over half of all mall-based shopping.59 Beyond the strip malls, and not to be confused with them, were the larger-scale planned shopping centres. The first large-scale suburban shopping centre in the United States was built by the developer Jesse Clyde Nichols, and opened in 1926. It was not intended to be a retail appendage to suburban living, but to be at its very heart. Nichol’s Country Club Plaza was the hub of the Country Club suburb of Kansas City, a development intended for the wealthy, and designed on gardensuburb principles. The plaza contained a wide range of shops, and was also equipped with doctors’, dentists’ and lawyers’ offices. The development was sumptuously landscaped, and was liberally provided with car parking spaces.60 Inter war development of shopping centres in the United States was on a small scale, however. There were only eight in the whole of the country by 1946.61 The large-scale and well-provisioned shopping centre, however, was to become an important retail feature of post-war American suburbia. The opening of the first planned post-war shopping centre in Raleigh North Carolina in 1949 was the first of a major trend in the establishment of such shopping centres. It was within these centres that the concept of the enclosed mall began in 1956, wherein shops were entered not directly off-the-lot, as it were, but from a large indoor floor or series of floors. This type of retail development began with the opening of the Southdale Shopping centre near Minneapolis, Minnesota. While downtown areas also gained – 32 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal enclosed malls, the suburbs took the lion’s share of them. These new indoor malls were temperature-controlled and designed to be comfortable and exciting shopping experiences. They proliferated across the United States, and during the 1970s they grew much larger as the new ‘super regional mall’ was added to the retail menu for the country’s millions of mobile consumers.62 These new malls were even larger and certainly better appointed than earlier enclosed malls. Some of America’s most famous regional malls are discussed in Joel Garreau’s generally enthusiastic book Edge City, first published in 1991. From coast to coast, and from northern border to southern border, American suburbs witnessed the growth of large and shiny malls, replete with a wide variety of shops and services. For example, on the outer fringes of Washington DC, in northern Virginia, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City was centred on a large mall beneath a domed office block. It was anchored by a Macy’s department store on one side and a Nordstrom on the other. A smaller strip mall was situated across the busy highway from it. Just fifteen minutes’ walk away, or a five-minute car ride, is Crystal City, another northern Virginia suburb of the capital. Crystal City boasts a considerable variety of underground shops and restaurants, office blocks, and many new large apartment blocks, as well as older streets of low-rise singlehousehold dwellings. Elsewhere in northern Virginia, but still within easy commuting distance of the capital, and close by to the city of Fairfax, lies Tyson’s Corner. Begun during the 1980s as a huge privately-owned mall, it quickly mushroomed into a new urban area of residential subdivisions, apartment blocks and office parks. And what happened within the Washington region during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s was symptomatic of the wider emergence of super malls all across metropolitan America.63 A visitor to Crystal City today would realize at once that its array of apartment blocks, office blocks, hotels, shopping malls and entertainments facilities was different to the earlier twentieth-century model of the residential suburb as a tract of housing from which people commuted to work. Yet Crystal City was not characterized by ‘downtown’ living, either, because its spatial location was avowedly suburban, a car ride or metro ride away from the core of the District. Crystal City’s older streets of earlier post-war housing had been engulfed by late twentieth-century development. It had become an ‘edge city’: its residential function coexisted with its role as a site of employment, in offices, hotels and of course in shops. People did not just commute to and from work, they commuted to Crystal City from elsewhere in order to work.64 This, for Garreau, was urban America’s ‘new frontier’, which was suburban in its location, but post-suburban in its greater provision of local employment and local services. Hence retailing, for example, was essential to the expansion of existing suburban and new postsuburban economies, and to the new housing which grew in these rapidly developing areas. – 33 –

Suburban Century England, too, has experienced a similar process of ‘edge city’ suburbanization. This process, however, was not as extensive as it was in the United States.

Economic Decentralization in England In England, the seeds of the new light industries and of service-sector growth were already sown, and sprouting, between the wars. As in the United States, the application of electricity and the rise of telephone usage facilitated this. Between 1929 and 1939, the number of homes wired for electricity rose from one in three to two in three, or to almost 70 per cent. Much of this new growth occurred most extensively in the London metropolitan region and in the south-east. In the north, however, the older staple industries of the industrial revolution – coal mining, iron and steel production, and textile manufacturing – were still the basis of many regional economies. As one staple textbook on inter-war Britain states, the new sectors ‘owed a great deal to the geographical dispersal made possible by electricity’ and they favoured location, not surprisingly, near the great markets of London and the south-east.65 Before Daniel Bell had predicted the onset of the post-industrial society in the United States, the British economist Colin Clark, basing his analysis upon interwar sectoral trends in the British economy, had argued that advanced capitalist nations followed a progression which had begun with the dominance of primary agricultural production and had moved to the dominance of secondary industrial manufacturing and thence into tertiary services-based employment.66 As in the United States, the manufacturing base of the British economy did not just fade away. New industries, notably in light engineering and in motor-car manufacturing were established between the wars, but the economy had long since begun its transition away from the primacy of manufacturing. This transition was coterminous with the spread of urbanization. In other words, economic change had spatial consequences. Thus by the early 1970s a number of social scientists and economists could observe the process of ‘economic decentralization’ as one force requiring the ‘containment of urban England’.67 The expansion in the number of ‘offices in the suburbs’, and the concomitant growth of industrial estates springing up on green-field sites, had clear echoes of the American experience. There was also a regional dimension to job decentralization. By 1984, the term ‘outer city’ was being applied to those areas of southern England, notably near metropolitan London, and to what is now know as ‘silicon valley’ or the English ‘sunbelt’ between East Anglia and the county of Wiltshire in the south-west.68 By the 1970s, and the onset of the ‘troubled economy’, the rust-belts of northern England (as of Scotland and Wales) stood as a stark indictment of both the weaknesses of traditional manufacturing industry, and of post-war economic policy failures.69

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The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal During the 1970s, deindustrialization accelerated as the commercial, financial and service sectors of the economy grew. The proportion of the labour force doing manual work declined more sharply than before. There was a concomitant expansion in the percentage of workers doing professional, managerial and whitecollar work, and a wide range of non-manual jobs, both full-time and part-time.70 As in the United States, retailing was an important sector within a changing economy, and had been since before the Second World War. It was a sector with a direct relationship to suburbanization and to city life, with both similarities to and differences from the American pattern of suburban retail development. In their social history of the 1920s and the 1930s, a book originally published during the Second World War, the classicist Robert Graves and the historian Alan Hodge pointed to the growth not simply of middle-class housing estates around London, in suburban Middlesex, but also to the accompanying retail trend away from the ‘cosy back parlours’ of corner shops toward larger, more general, stores. These establishments were often located in the new shopping parades in inter-war estates, near to a train station or bus stops. In addition to W.H. Smith’s the newsagents, there was International Stores and Sainsbury’s, both grocers, and at least one of the following: Dewhursts’ the butchers, the Victoria Wine Company, Lord Leverhulme’s immense fishretailing system, MacFisheries, the Express and United Dairy Companies, Burton’s and Meaker’s the ready-made tailors, the Times furnishing company, the Co-operatives, Woolworth’s, Marks and Spencers, the British Home Stores.

And there was, as Graves and Hodge observed, usually a branch of a bank and a building society, the very institutions which lent to the middle classes the money to enable them to move out to the suburbs in the first place.71 In common with Barkers or Sears in the United States, many English department store names remained in town- and city-centre streets. A general dispersal of shops and supermarkets in England certainly continued once the war was over, but it was on a much smaller scale than in the United States.72 There were a number of reasons for that. A study of Bristol in south-west England, for example, found that in new post-war estates there was inequality in shopping provision. Owneroccupied estates were usually better provided with a range of local shops. On council estates, however, shops and services often arrived very late, because the initial market was too thin and too poor to sustain suburban supermarkets. A complaint of many women in English council estates during the later 1950s was that the lack of a decent range of local shops necessitated bus trips into town.73 The relatively lower percentage of suburban supermarkets in England by the late 1950s raises some important issues about supply and demand, because it can be argued that Americans in new suburbs were better serviced by supermarkets

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Suburban Century than their English equivalents. One consequence, lamented by many a writer on post-war suburbanization in the United States, was the decline of the downtown small grocery stores as large shops dispersed outward.74 In England, the convenience stores, largely made up of the corner shop and small local parades of shops, continued as a major locale of shopping for longer than the mom ’n’ pop stores. Yet that did not mean that shoppers necessarily liked them more than supermarkets. A 1960s study, for example, showed that while the elderly were more attached to older shops, most shoppers preferred to shop in the town centre, especially in the supermarkets located there. Most women with children preferred supermarkets because they were competitive in price terms. Their variety and instore attributes made shopping more efficient and inexpensive than local trader monopolies. Many women, moreover, looked forward to a shopping trip in the town centre, not simply for its material contribution to the household, but also because it was a sociable occasion, an opportunity to get out of the house, meet relatives and friends in a cafeteria.75 So when Petula Clark sang ‘Downtown’, her 1964 paean to the virtues of heading into town to ‘forget all your troubles’, most women in English suburbs and new estates still did just that: they went ‘down the town’ or ‘into town’ to go shopping and meet people. It was a very suburban thing to do. This raises another connected issue. The English, and English women in particular, were less mobile than Americans. The just-mentioned study of Bristol new estates was actually a comparison with subdivisions in Columbus, Ohio. Whereas Bristol’s estates were owner-occupied or council, in Columbus the subdivisions were either ‘high-cost’ or ‘lower-cost’ housing. In Columbus, Ohio, 84 per cent of households owned at least one car by 1959, and some owned a second car, notably in the higher-cost subdivisions. In Bristol, 43 per cent had a car, but there was no second-car ownership.76 A more mobile people meant a wide potential market, so American chain stores, taking advantage of cheaper suburban land, were more inclined to build larger peripheral roadside shopping centres near these large catchment areas.77 Further statistics about mobility are revealing. In Columbus, nobody at all used public transport to get to work, whereas in Bristol 15 per cent used public transport for that purpose. Furthermore, 25 per cent of Bristol’s suburbanites walked or cycled to work, compared to 2 per cent in Columbus.78 Within these general patterns of mobility and car ownership, it is no surprise to find that English suburbanites were thus more likely to take the bus to go shopping, a task largely performed by women. In 1976 one writer on suburbanization and transportation noted the widespread use of the bus to go shopping in Britain, compared with the far higher level of usage of private cars in the United States.79 Perhaps, too, the manifestly shorter distances between English suburbs and the town centres made town-centre shopping by bus more convenient in England, whereas many – 36 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal Americans were relatively situated much further out, because of the greater spatial dispersal of many American cities.80 Finally, the provision of suburban shopping centres in England, while it was certainly growing, was of absolutely and relatively lesser magnitude than in the United States before 1970. A number of small neighbourhood parades of shops and precincts had been developed on new estates during the post-war years. Some larger ones were also provided, for example the Cowley Centre at Oxford.81 However, most of the large new shopping centres in England in the 1960s were located not in suburbs, as in the United States, but in town and city centres. These concretized, artificially-lit modernistic indoor-shopping buildings took over where the Luftwaffe’s bombs had missed. Older town-centre shops and buildings were destroyed to make way for the Arndale Centres and their like. This affirmation of town-centre shopping by the planning authorities, retail interests and property developers sustained town-centre shopping in England, even though it resulted in some truly awful buildings.82 Despite the redevelopment of town and city centres by the addition of new shopping developments, the suburbanization of retail outlets continued. For example, in England and Wales between 1961 and 1971, 52 metropolitan areas grew by over 25 per cent in population, and in those burgeoning suburban areas of town business rents were cheaper than in the town centre, sometimes up to £6 cheaper per square metre. Nottingham, for example, in the English Midlands, experienced the ‘decentralization of consumer demand’ in no small part as a consequence of cheaper rents in outer locations.83 It was the development of large planned suburban shopping centres during the 1970s that gave a major impetus to retail dispersal, and also to the use of cars for shopping trips. That decade witnessed acceleration in the expansion of suburban shopping centres and of so-called out-of-town retailing. This was initiated with the opening of the Brent Cross shopping centre in suburban north London in 1976. The mall was on two marble-covered floors, and the centre of the mall was dominated by a fountain. The in-house variety was provided by a John Lewis department store, four other large shops, a supermarket and over eighty small shops. The site contained many hundreds of car-parking spaces, because it was located by three trunk roads and within easy car access of over 1,250,000 people. It was also close to an underground station on the Northern line.84 The next large shopping mall of note was opened in Central Milton Keynes, the new town in Buckinghamshire, in 1979. In the related history of retailing, urban dispersal and the mall phenomenon, the opening of the Milton Keynes Shopping Building was a thoroughly nuanced event. For as one expert on urban affairs argued, the Milton Keynes mall was ‘this great out-of-town shopping centre that’s in the town centre’.85 Second, the city of Milton Keynes was ‘a grand suburban design’,86 a planned suburban landscape. Hence, the mall appeared to be ‘at home’ – 37 –

Suburban Century there. (Bill Bryson, unkind to American malls, was scathing about the shopping building in Central Milton Keynes.87 ) Third, Milton Keynes has been described by more than one writer as an ‘edge city’ in England.88 This is because it contains key features of Garreau’s definition. It is dominated by retail space, and by offices and commercial parks. It is a new community, forged by pioneering migrants from older, often ‘downtown’ areas, notably London. And since Milton Keynes was designated as a new town in 1967 it has spread over the North Buckinghamshire countryside like low-rise suburbanization, albeit in a planned and rationalized format. Milton Keynes and its mall were unique, because they anticipated the key characteristics of the large-scale shopping malls which came into existence during the 1980s and 1990s. Each mall was geared up not just to sell goods, but also to become a force for regional regeneration. Some of these are well known. Meadow Hall in Sheffield, the South Yorkshire city of the film The Full Monty, was constructed in a derelict area of the Don Valley. The Metro Centre in Gateshead was set in another deindustrializing region of north-east England whose fortunes were once based upon coal mining, ship building, and iron and steel production. The Lakeside Centre near Dagenham, in Essex, was built to stimulate development in the metropolitan hinterlands beyond East London, and it provided the vast housing estate, which was begun during the 1920s, with a new and glittering shopping centre at long last. And ‘like American malls’, the writer Paul Barker observed, Lakeside was ‘growing its own village’ by 1997: developers cashed-in on the pulling potential of the mall as somewhere it was good to live close to.89 There was a great deal of pessimism in England during the 1980s and 1990s about the decline of town- and city-centre shopping as a consequence of out-oftown shopping. But as the respected market-research company Healey and Baker found in its 1998 survey of ‘where people shop’, most shoppers were ‘returning to town centre shopping’. Some 64 per cent said they usually did their main food shopping in town-centre supermarkets in 1998, compared to 55 per cent two years previously. Interestingly, this meant that out-of-town shopping was slightly less popular in Britain than in many parts of Europe.90 Yet whether they shopped in the out-of-town complexes or the centre of town, most people preferred to use a car. England’s towns and cities, then, survived in symbiosis with suburban retailing and a car-borne culture of shopping. English town centres did not undergo donutting – hollowing out – to the extent of some American cities. This was not merely a historical accident, for England, unlike the United States, possessed anti-suburban planning controls by the 1930s. As noted, between the wars, England’s towns and cities had expanded haphazardly, with suburban roads and bypasses pushing their way out from the existing urban environment and into the countryside. Leading town planners had been in the forefront of the reaction to this, and had pushed for Acts to limit ‘ribbon development’ in the mid-1930s. They – 38 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal had also successfully argued for powerful building restrictions on a ‘green girdle’ or green belt around London, which came to pass in 1935.91 Such measures were tightened up and extended by the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947. Also, the early post-war years witnessed the beginnings of a planned programme of new towns intended to prevent more sporadic and unplanned suburban growth. Hence new towns were at the heart of a raft of land-use measures in England. These were put into effect by a centralized planning ministry that had no federal equivalent in the United States.

Official Forces in Urban Dispersal The new-towns programme in England was initiated by the New Towns Act of 1946, passed by the Labour Government of 1945 to 1951. A further New Towns Act was passed in 1965, by the next Labour Government. The realization of the new towns was a decisive victory for the decentralizers at the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, formed in 1943 to co-ordinate the reconstruction of the built environment following the war. Leading Ministry planners emphasized the practical examples of Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, and worked hard to persuade the Labour Government to include garden-city-inspired new towns in its huge programme of the post-war reconstruction of the built environment.92 The reasons for new towns in England were as follows. First, town planners and many politicians understood the need to ease the population congestion and overcrowding in the town and city centres by a process of planned dispersal to new towns. The damage to or destruction of so much of England’s housing stock due to aerial bombardment during the Second World War heightened that crisis. Second, new towns were to be placed not only in the prosperous south-east and midlands of England, but also in what between the wars had been designated ‘Special Areas’. Located in the north-east of England, for example, and in Scotland and Wales, their original fortunes were based on the staple industries of the industrial revolution during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those industries – coal, iron and steel, ship-building and textiles manufacture – however, were over-dominant in their regional economies. Puny attempts between the wars to revitalize these areas by public-works schemes had largely failed.93 Hence, they were also facing structural decline, with higher levels of unemployment than the more prosperous areas of England. It was hoped that new towns would help to attract new industries to the languishing industrial regions of England. Northern Ireland, too, was provided with new towns. Third, many Labour politicians and planners shared a rather naive view that the new towns could be antidotes to England’s class system. The idea of social mix and occupational balance, in new neighbourhoods of mostly publicly rented housing,

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Suburban Century was one which captivated Labour politicians responsible for building the post-war ‘New Jerusalem’.94 So too was the hope for an active citizenry. Lewis Silkin, the Minister responsible for Town and Country Planning, wanted to bring the classes closer together. As he told Parliament during the second reading of the New Town’s Bill, I am most anxious that the planning should be such that the different income groups living in the new towns will not be segregated. No doubt they may enjoy common recreational facilities, and take part in amateur theatricals, or each play their part in a health centre or a community centre. But when they leave to go home I do not want the better off people to go to the right, and the less well off to go to the left. I want them to ask each other ‘are you going my way?’95

Following the terms of the New Towns Act of 1946, each new town was to be planned and constructed by a development corporation (DC). It would draw up a Master Plan and then enact it with considerable powers and finance at its disposal. Each DC could compulsorily purchase land, and then ensure the building of the infrastructure, houses and places of employment on that land. In terms of land purchase, compensation for the previous owners was worked out and agreed upon. And in the crucial arena of economic development for their new towns, the DCs possessed special powers and finances which enabled them to acquire and offer land for businesses at cheaper rents than might be available elsewhere. This made it cost-effective for new companies or existing businesses to establish themselves in new towns. As for housing, this was built in planned neighbourhood units of varying population sizes. An American concept pioneered at Radburn, neighbourhood units had also been realized in England between the wars. Sir Charles Reilly, an architect, had devised a neighbourhood scheme for Birkenhead, across the River Mersey from Liverpool, which was built in the 1930s. The Plan emphasized community, which was physically expressed in petal-like groupings around the flower’s centre, a centre equipped with shops and community facilities. Once in office, Labour was guided by neighbourhood-unit principles.96 Most of the housing was built for rent. Each neighbourhood unit was intended to contain schools, a community building, and enough shops to satisfy the everyday needs of a nearby population. Every new town was provided with a town centre, for the weekly big shop and also for entertainment and cultural facilities.97 In all, twenty- one new towns were constructed in England, and they housed considerably more than one million people by the year 2000. A further process of urban growth was initiated by the Town Development Act of 1952. This allowed for the expansion of a number of small to middle-sized towns on their edges, to enable people and employment to locate there. For

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The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal example, Bury St Edmunds and Thetford in East Anglia, and Swindon in the southwest of England, were expanded to absorb Londoners.98 In both the new and the expanded towns, most incomers were workingclass households. While there were middle-class inhabitants, they were generally under-represented. This was partly because there had long been a lack of housing available for home ownership, as development corporations largely built their own stock for rent. The middle-class preference for home ownership was inadequately provided-for in the 1940s and 1950s new towns. Furthermore, new-town selection policies had privileged the skilled and semi-skilled sections of the working classes, the very people needed to build and maintain the infrastructure of a new town in the early years. They lived in mostly rented accommodation and, as a study of Crawley New Town found, middle-class and working-class households rarely coexisted in mixed communities: new-town neighbourhoods took on distinctive class characteristics.99 So class ‘segregation’ continued.

New Towns in the United States The foremost town planners in the inter-war United States, notably in the Regional Planning Association of America (RPAA) and in the New Deal Resettlement Administration, advocated the virtues of planned suburban living within the garden-city/garden-suburb lineage of town design. Thus the concept of the planned suburban satellite towns was implemented in a number of key experiments within which the residents were to enjoy the benefits and pleasures of suburban life beyond the overcrowded city. The aforementioned Radburn, New Jersey was one of the most celebrated and influential experiments. Its example also influenced the design of the three so-called greenbelt towns, built under the New Deal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s legislative programme from 1933 to the 1937. These were Greenbelt, Maryland, Greenhills, Ohio and Greendales, Wisconsin. Each was built to relieve nearby cities of poorer population, and to provide affordable housing for the poor, although as we will see, they were largely populated by comfortably-off whites in their early years, not unlike the post-war English new towns. The new towns were built and managed by the Suburban Division of the Resettlement Administration (RA), a New Deal agency. The director of the RA was Rexford G. Tugwell; the Head of the Suburban Division was John Lansill. The RA described each town in identical terms as a ‘suburban project demonstrating modern town planning, for the provision of adequate low-rent housing in a semirural environment for limited income employed families [now] inadequately housed’.100 Fewer than 10,000 people were rehoused in each town by 1939. Tugwell had at one point favoured the idea of a small city of skyscrapers at Greenbelt, but was persuaded in favour of low-rise housing by Lansill.101

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Suburban Century A 1950s history of the New Deal housing and community programmes viewed the three greenbelt towns as ‘the culmination of the garden city movement in America’ by that time.102 Unfortunately, the greenbelt towns have been subsequently ignored by urban historians, or at best mentioned in passing.103 Only now are they beginning to attract scholarly attention.104 The American greenbelt experiment, small in scale, endured into the post-war years. However, a further attempt at planned new towns, and at the urban dispersal that made them viable, would be made. As Carol Corden argues in her comparative study of British and American new towns, the closest American equivalent to the British programme was the phase of new towns begun as a consequence of legislation in 1968 and 1970. Immediately, that latter sentence will ring alarm bells for those who feel that comparisons are odious, because there were and remain fundamental differences between the British new-towns programme and its closest comparative programme, the federally assisted new towns in the United States. The first and most obvious difference was that of timing. The British programme began much earlier, partly as a consequence of the destructive effects of aerial bombardment on the urban fabric and partly because, as noted, the Ministry of Town and Country Planning was an effective lobbyist for decentralization. The Home Front of the United States, however, with the single exception of Pearl Harbor, remained untouched by enemy action. A second key difference, related to the first, was that in England the government financed, planned and built new towns. This led to a level of co-ordination from the centre which American new-town developers could only envy. In the United States, new towns were begun by private developers. It was not until the Housing Acts of 1968 and 1970 that federal government moved to support American new towns through financial assistance. Even then, private developers did not have the devices of their British state counterparts, for example the financial and statutory power behind compulsory land purchase. A third important dissimilarity rests within the concept of social balance. In England, this almost wholly referred to occupational balance, and to the corporate mission to develop a community which accurately represented the working- and middle-class profile of the nation. For private new-town developers in the United States, occupational balance was certainly a goal, but ethnic balance exercised them more. The inclusion of ‘low-income groups’, more often than not a euphemism for black households, became an issue in the 1960s. But why did the United States begin a new-towns programme so comparatively late, during the latter 1960s? In part, the answer lay in the establishment of two privately developed new towns near the American capital, namely Columbia in Maryland and Reston in Virginia. They were begun in the early 1960s and aimed at ethnically mixed communities. These towns attracted much media and official attention as attractive and successful new-town experiments. – 42 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal However, the main reason for official interest in new towns lay in the ghettos of the 1960s, and the urban unrest there. As class segregation had been at the heart of dispersal policies in early post-war England, so was ethnic segregation, in a more dramatic sense, at the heart of dispersal debates in the United States in the 1960s. Civil Rights campaigners stressed the inequities in housing provision. The Democratic administration under Lyndon B. Johnson set out to improve urban conditions as part of the ‘great society’ programmes. In 1965 the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was established. Key leaders of HUD, for example Samuel C. Jackson, the black Assistant Secretary for Metropolitan Planning, argued that a new-towns programme would help relieve the ghetto, and would rehouse many deprived ethnic households in planned new communities.105 The Housing Acts of 1968 and 1970, both supported by HUD, allowed for newtown developers to gain financial assistance from federal government for their projects. This included Columbia and Reston, and the more recently begun new towns. Reston, for example, applied for HUD funding for low-income housing in order to provide for a ‘balanced community’.106 This necessarily involved African Americans. By 1977, fourteen new towns had been given federal financial assistance.107 Jonathan, Minnesota and St Charles, Maryland were among the first federally subsidized new towns. In both, there was a generous provision of open space, and neighbourhood and recreational amenities were to be built. Industry and commerce either were close by or were to be planned into the new towns. In these new and attractive environments, a socially mixed and balanced community was to be developed. To some extent that was successful. Population profiles for December 1972 at Jonathan showed it to have 4 per cent of its population black compared with 3 per cent in Minneapolis. In Park Forest South, a planned and federally assisted extension to Park Forest in Chicago, blacks made up 19 per cent of the population.108 Unfortunately, these federally assisted new towns did not reach their full potential as mixed communities. This reflected both contingent, and deeper, problems. For the new-towns programme of the 1960s and 1970s suffered from the economic downturn of 1973 and its aftermath. This was brought on by the Oil Crisis. The Nixon-Ford Administrations were also reluctant to put the requisite amounts of money into the coffers of the development corporations. Plans had to be cut back. Furthermore, the Federal Housing Administration placed restrictions on the types of low-income families that could be rehoused at new towns. For Jonathan Development Corporation, the placement of young low-income families in new housing, housing which they genuinely looked after, had been a source of great pride. But their hopes were to be dashed. A corporation spokesman criticized the FHA for ‘setting up a programme to take care of people whose incomes are – 43 –

Suburban Century low’ only for it to then lay an income floor of $6,000 per annum on those who could move to subsidized housing: ‘[We] cannot have those people any more. We find this terribly disappointing and irritating.’109 Further disadvantages for American new-town development corporations lay in their lack of powers of compulsory purchase and land-use. For example, at the point of gaining land for their plan, they were involved as but one player in an often complex and protracted series of conflicts and negotiations over that land.110 Suffice it to say that a fully developed programme of state-supported garden-citystyle new towns never really became established in the twentieth-century United States. Instead, unplanned suburbanization remained the order of the post-war decades.

Conclusion Technological forces both promoted and perpetuated suburbanization in American and English towns and cities. The combined impact of trains and trolleys, of motorized public transport and of the motor car created a momentum for dispersal, as people took advantage of cheap transportation and moved toward the suburban home. Transport and communications also became essential to the modern and comfortable lifestyle that they wished to live out in those suburbs. As they moved toward their suburban dream, moreover, commerce and employment followed them. By the 1970s, employment dispersal had occurred to the extent that it had engendered the edge-city phenomenon. That form of (sub)urbanization was more extensive than in England, which nonetheless experienced aspects of ‘edge-city’ growth. Suburbanization and urban dispersal, however, was not a monolithic process, determined by economic and technological forces. Official forces also attempted to provide alternatives to unplanned suburbanization. Social forces, however, were paramount: the very pace and extent of suburbanization revealed a common aspiration to suburban living. Hence in the following chapter, the social sources of suburbanization are explored within the rubric of ‘the suburban aspiration’.

Notes 1. Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (Oxford and New York, 1987); Sam Bass Warner, Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870–1900 (Cambridge, MA, 1962). – 44 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal 2. Robert M. Stern and John M. Massengale, The Anglo-American Suburb (London, 1981), pp. 21–3. 3. G.B. Tindall and D.E. Shi, America: A Narrative History (New York, 1997), p. 633. 4. Jackson, Crabgrass, pp. 111, 117–19. 5. Mary Corbin Sies, ‘The city transformed: nature, technology and the suburban ideal, 1877–1917’, Journal of Urban History, 14/1, 1987, p. 90; Stern and Massengale, Anglo-American Suburb, pp. 33–40. 6. Jackson, Crabgrass, p. 111. 7. Eric Homberger, The Penguin Historical Atlas of North America (Harmondsworth, 1995), pp. 112–13; Tindall and Shi, America, p. 633. 8. C. Treen, ‘The process of suburban development in north Leeds, 1870–1914’, in F.M.L. Thompson (ed.), The Rise of Suburbia (Leicester, 1982), pp. 175– 6. 9. M.C. Carr, ‘The development and character of a metropolitan suburb: Bexley, Kent’, in Thompson (ed.), Rise of Suburbia, pp. 225–6. 10. Donald Read, The Age of Urban Democracy: England, 1868–1914 (London, 1994), p. 254. 11. Robert Graves and Alan Hodge, The Long Weekend: A Social History of Great Britain, 1918–1939 (London, 1985), pp. 172–3. 12. David Cannadine, ‘Victorian cities: how different?’, in R.J. Morris and Richard Rodger (eds), The Victorian City: A Reader in British Urban History, 1820– 1914 (London, 1993), pp. 121–4. 13. Andrew Saint, ‘The quality of the London suburb’, in English Heritage and the authors, London Suburbs (London, 1999), p. 18. 14. John Burnett, A Social History of Housing, 1815–1985 (London, 1986), p. 153. 15. Jerry White, The Worst Street in North London: Campbell Bunk, Islington, Between the Wars (London, 1986), pp. 10–13. 16. See Chapter 6. 17. Gary H. Tobin, ‘Suburbanization and the development of motor transportation: transportation technology and the suburbanization process’, in Barry A. Schwartz (ed.), The Changing Face of the Suburbs (Chicago, 1976), p. 101. 18. Mark S. Foster, ‘The automobile and the suburbanization of Los Angeles in the 1920s’, in Howard P. Chudacoff (ed.), Major Problems in American Urban History (Boston, 1994), pp. 318–25. 19. Joseph Interrante, ‘The road to autopia: the automobile and the spatial transformation of American culture’, in Chudacoff (ed.), Major Problems, pp. 311– 18. 20. Howard P. Chudacoff, ‘Metropolitan growth and the automobile in the 1920s’, in Chudacoff (ed.), Major Problems, p. 299. – 45 –

Suburban Century 21. Tobin, ‘Suburbanization and the development of motor transportation’, p. 108. 22. Chudacoff, ‘Metropolitan growth’, p. 299. 23. Generally, see George A. Lundberg, Mirra Komarovsky and Mary A. McInerny, Leisure: A Suburban Study (New York, 1934). 24. Jackson, Crabgrass, p. 166. 25. Daniel Schaffer, Garden Cities for America: The Radburn Experience (Philadelphia, 1982). 26. R.D. McKenzie, ‘The rise of metropolitan communities’, in Recent Social Trends: The Report of the President’s Research Committee on Social Trends (New York, 1933), pp. 464–5. 27. Foster, ‘The automobile’, pp. 318–20; Arthur L. Grey, ‘Los Angeles: urban prototype’, Land Economics, 35/3, 1959, pp. 232–4. 28. Homer Hoyt, ‘Forces of urban centralization and decentralization’, American Journal of Sociology, XLVI/6, 1941, p. 848. 29. Hugh Brogan, The Penguin History of the United States of America (Harmondsworth, 1999), p. 658. 30. Theodore Caplow et al, Middletown Families: Fifty Years of Change and Continuity (Minneapolis, 1982), p. 25. 31. Jackson, Crabgrass, p. 249. 32. Mark Clapson, Invincible Green Suburbs, Brave New Towns: Social Change and Urban Dispersal in Postwar England (Manchester, 1998), pp. 43–4. 33. Even by 1949, only 3 per cent of social classes D and E, namely semi-skilled and unskilled workers, owned a car compared with nearly 26.5 per cent of A and B, the professional and managerial households, and 11.5 per cent of category C, the lower-middle-class white-collar workers, and skilled manual workers. Women owned few cars. See A.H. Halsey, Trends in British Society Since 1900 (London, 1974), p. 551. 34. Ian Davis, ‘One of the greatest evils . . . Dunroamin and the Modern Movement’, in Paul Oliver, Ian Davis and Ian Bentley, Dunroamin: The Suburban Semi and its Enemies (London, 1994), p. 38. 35. John Betjeman, ‘Slough’ (1937), in Robin Skelton (ed.), Poetry of the Thirties (Harmondsworth, 1985), p. 74. 36. John Stevenson and Chris Cook, The Slump: Society and Politics During the Depression (London, 1979), p. 24. 37. Graves and Hodge, The Long Weekend, p. 172. 38. Halsey, Trends in British Society, p. 551. 39. A.H. Halsey, ‘Introduction’, in A. H. Halsey (ed.), British Social Trends Since 1900 (London, 1988), p. 17. 40. Eric Jacobs and Robert Worcester, We British: Britain Under the Moriscope (London, 1990), p. 160. 41. Journal of Historical Geography, 27/1, 2001. – 46 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal 42. Nelson Lichtenstein, Susan Strasser and Roy Rosenzweig, Who Built America? Working People and the Nation’s Economy, Politics, Culture and Society; Volume 2: Since 1877 (New York, 2000), p. 179. 43. Homer Hoyt, ‘Changing patterns of urban growth, 1959–1975’, Urban Land, 18/4, 1959, p. 5; Hoyt, ‘Forces’, pp. 843–52. 44. Geoffrey Tweedale, ‘Industry and de-industrialisation in the 1970s’, in Richard Coopey and Nicholas Woodward, Britain in the 1970s: The Troubled Economy (London, 1996), p. 269. 45. John D. Kasarda, ‘The changing occupational structure of the American metropolis’: apropos of the urban problem’, in Schwartz (ed.), Changing, pp. 113–14. 46. Jackson, Crabgrass, p. 267. 47. Ibid. 48. Malcolm Waters, Daniel Bell (London, 1996), pp. 112–23. 49. Thierry J. Noyelle, ‘The rise of advanced services: some implications for economic development in US cities’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 49/3, 1983, p. 281. 50. Palen, The Suburbs, p. 185. 51. Robin Dubin, ‘Commuting and firm decentralization’, Land Economics, 67/ 1, 1992, p. 28. 52. M. Schaller, V. Scharff and R. D. Schulzinger, Present Tense: The United States Since 1945 (Boston, 1996), p. 413. 53. Ibid., pp. 232–3. 54. C.S.P. Monck et al, Science Parks and the Growth of High Technology Firms (London, 1988), p. 3. 55. Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America (London, 1997), p. 152. 56. Jackson, Crabgrass, pp. 257–8. 57. Neil Petree, ‘Suburban shopping centres’, Review of the Society of Residential Appraisers, 18/6, 1952, pp. 3–4. 58. James D. Tarver, ‘Suburbanization of retail trade in the standard metropolitan areas of the United States, 1948–54’, American Sociological Review, 22/4, 1957, p. 433. 59. Palen, The Suburbs, p. 194. 60. Ibid., pp. 190–1. 61. Jackson, Crabgrass, p. 259. 62. Ibid., p. 260; Palen, The Suburbs, p. 195. 63. Joel Garreau, Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (New York, 1992), passim, but see pp. 426–39 for a list of edge cities. 64. This impressionistic account was based on this writer’s stays in Crystal City in 1997 and 1999. – 47 –

Suburban Century 65. Stevenson and Cook, The Slump, p. 10. 66. Peter Hall, ‘The people: where will they go?’, The Planner, 71/4, 1985, p. 8. 67. Roy Drewett, John Goddard and Nigel Spence, ‘Urban Britain: beyond containment’, in Brian J.L. Berry (ed.), Urbanization and Counter-Urbanization (Beverly Hills, 1976), pp. 43–78; P.W. Daniels, ‘New offices in the suburbs’, in James H. Johnson (ed.), Suburban Growth: Geographical Processes at the Edge of the City, (London, 1974), pp. 51, 54. 68. John Herington, The Outer City (London, 1984), p. 19. 69. Richard Coopey and Nicholas Woodward, ‘The British economy in the 1970s: an overview’, in Coopey and Woodward, Britain, pp. 1–33. 70. Robert Price and George Sayers Bain, ‘The labour force’, in A.H. Halsey (ed.), British Social Trends Since 1900 (London, 1988), pp. 162–5; Tweedale, ‘Industry and de-industrialisation’, pp. 269–70. 71. Graves and Hodge, The Long Weekend, p. 173. 72. Josephine P. Reynolds, ‘Suburban shopping in America: notes on shopping development in the United States and the implications for Britain’, Town Planning Review, 29/1, 1958, p. 43. 73. H.E. Bracey, Neighbours on New Estates and Subdivisions in England and the United States (London, 1964), pp. 65–6. 74. Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York 2000), p. 211; Ray Suarez, The Old Neighbourhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration 1966–1999 (New York, 1999), pp. 19 and 20. 75. Which, November 1969, pp. 336–8. 76. Bracey, Neighbours, p. 13. 77. John A. Dawson, ‘The suburbanization of retail activity’, in Johnson (ed.), Suburban Growth, p. 169. 78. Bracey, Neighbours, p. 13. 79. Dawson, ‘Suburbanization of retail activity’, p. 169. 80. Clara Greed, Women and Planning: Creating Gendered Realities (London, 1994), p. 41. 81. Dawson, ‘Suburbanization of retail activity’, p. 167. 82. Margaret Drabble ‘A vision of the real city’, in Mark Fisher and Ursula Owen (eds), Whose Cities? (Harmondsworth, 1991), p. 35. 83. Dawson, ‘Suburbanization of retail activity’, pp. 160–1. 84. Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert (eds), The London Encyclopaedia (London, 1987), p. 83. 85. Tim Mars, ‘Milton Keynes: a view from exile’, in Mark Clapson, Mervyn Dobbin and Peter Waterman (eds), The Best Laid Plans: Milton Keynes Since 1967 (Luton, 1998), p. 123. – 48 –

The City Spreads: Forces in Urban Disposal 86. Terence Bendixson and John Platt, Milton Keynes: Image and Reality (Cambridge, 1992), p. 167. 87. Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island (London, 1995), pp. 178–9. 88. Paul Barker, ‘Edge city’, in Anthony Barnett and Roger Scruton (eds), Town and Country (London, 1998), pp. 209–10; Alan Cochrane and Julie Charlesworth, ‘American dreams and English utopias’, in Clapson et al, Best Laid Plans, p. 113. 89. Paul Barker, ‘Not all shopping malls are the same . . .’, New Statesman, 6 February 1998, p. 54. 90. Healey and Baker, Where People Shop: Great Britain (London, 1999), pp. 2 and 5. 91. Gordon E. Cherry, Town Planning in Britain Since 1900 (Oxford, 1996), pp. 71–2, 81. 92. Peter Hall and Colin Ward, Sociable Cities: The Legacy of Ebenezer Howard (London, 1998), pp. 52–67. 93. Noreen Branson and Margot Heinemann, England in the Nineteen Thirties (St Albans, 1973), pp. 70–73. 94. Clapson, Invincible, p. 161. 95. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons (Hansard), Fifth Series, 422, 1945–46, cols 1089–90. 96. Steven Fielding, Peter Thompson and Nick Tiratsoo (eds), England Arise: The Labour Party and Popular Politics in 1940s England (Manchester, 1995), p. 104. 97. Clapson, Invincible, pp. 45–9; Carol Corden, Planned Cities: New Towns in England and America (Beverly Hills, 1977), pp. 69–179. 98. Clapson, Invincible, p. 46. 99. B.J. Heraud, Social class and the new towns’, Urban Studies, 5/1, 1968, pp. 33–58. 100. Lansill/UKlib/SCA/65M19/Miscellaneous: Resettlement Administration, Project Description Book (Washington DC: Resettlement Administration, 1936) 101. David Myrha, ‘Rexford Guy Tugwell: initiator of America’s Greenbelt new towns, 1935 to 1936’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 40/3, 1974, pp. 176–88. 102. Paul Conkin, Tomorrow a New World: The New Deal Community Programme (New York, 1959), p. 305. 103. For example, Howard P. Chudacoff, Major Problems in American Urban History (Lexington, 1994). 104. Rosalyn Baxendall and Elizabeth Ewen, Picture Windows: How the Suburbs Happened (New York, 2000), pp. 67–74.

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Suburban Century 105. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 330: Samuel C. Jackson, The Tough Issues in an Urban Growth Policy (Washington, DC: HUD News press release, based upon a talk by Jackson, 9 June 1970) 106. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 234: Résumé of Purpose of Request for Grant Under HUD Low-Income Housing Demonstration Programme (Reston: manuscript, dated ‘revised, 3/22/66’). 107. Corden, Planned Cities, p. 203; Carlos C. Campbell, New Towns: Another Way to Live (Reston, VA, pp. 245–6. 108. Jack A. Underhill, ‘New communities, planning process and national growth policy’, in Gideon Golany and Daniel Walden (eds), The Contemporary New Communities Movement in the United States (Urbana, 1974), p. 44. 109. Benjamin H. Cunningham, ‘Jonathan, Chaska, Minnesota’, in Golany and Walden (eds), Contemporary New Communities, p. 115. 110. Corden, Planned Cities, pp. 71–2.

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The Suburban Aspiration

–3 – The Suburban Aspiration As Kenneth T. Jackson and other historians have understood, the aspiration to suburban living was at the very heart of suburbanization. For suburbanites were not passively propelled out of the city in buses and cars only to find themselves being propelled back in again. People caught buses and trains to the suburbs, the buses and trains did not catch them. Motorists drove their motor cars to and from home; the cars did not drive them. Transportation technology was the vehicle for, not the cause of, the suburban dream. And technological innovations in a different sphere, namely construction materials, enabled comfortable modern homes to be built more quickly and cheaply, thus also facilitating suburbanization. Furthermore, it will also become clear that government housing policies assisted many groups of people to realize their suburban aspiration, although the nature and extent of these policies was considerably different in each country.

The Suburban Aspiration: a Definition Three characteristics define the suburban aspiration. The first was an avoidance of city-centre living. This desire has been referred to by some writers as ‘antiurbanism’. The sociologist Ruth Glass, writing during the 1950s, could hardly have been more scathing of this phenomenon in England and the United States. Glass argued that anti-urbanism was a ‘traditional attitude’ which pre-dated the industrial city, and she saw post-war suburbanization as its latest manifestation. She hated those ‘formidable conurbations, dressed up in fake rusticity’ which, for her, repudiated the industrial city and caused it to decline.1 There may be many examples of anti-urbanism, but here it means a popular disaffection for the industrial city centres. Millions of people experienced them as overcrowded, insanitary, peopled with undesirables and lacking in both privacy and wide open spaces. Furthermore, most people did want to live right next to their workplace. Nor did people particularly want to live cheek by jowl with family and friends within the ostensibly close networks of urban communities. Yet, as we will see, suburban living did not in fact mean any permanent avoidance of town and city centres. Far from it. Suburban living was qualified by a desire to be within reach of the city centre, for its amenities. The term ‘anti-urbanism’ obscures more than it reveals. – 51 –

Suburban Century The second component of the suburban aspiration was the desire for a house, preferably with a garden. ‘Perhaps more than anything else’, Alison Ravetz and Richard Turkington have stated, ‘the suburban home and the suburb typify the twentieth century.’2 As the century progressed, a growing number of American and English people wanted a house with a garden. In England, the dominant image of suburban housing is the semi-detached house. In the United States, it is the detached family home. The chapter will demonstrate that although there were some key variations in suburban housing, the image and appeal of the ‘traditional’ home, bedecked with at least a few ‘fake rustic’ motifs, became culturally pervasive in both England and the United States. The third major component of the suburban aspiration was the suburb itself, and the appeal of a high-quality residential environment. The ‘neighbourhood’ or the immediate area of the house was to contain attractive streets and roads. A house and garden, with nearby countryside or generous parklands and good amenities, were essential to the suburban vision, both heavily marketed by developers and highly regarded by consumers. That environment, however, included the types of people living in the suburb, not only its material qualities. For the majority of suburbanites, the social tone of the neighbourhood was inextricably related to the quality of the residential environment. People wanted to live with people of similar social class and status consciousness to themselves. Hence, class is of central importance in our understanding of the suburban aspiration. Due to inequalities in household incomes, however, and as a consequence of the changing economic fortunes of towns and regions, access to the suburban ideal, and hence to the good life, was uneven and fluctuating. Many wealthy or financially comfortable people were able to achieve the best of all the suburban characteristics discussed here. Others, however, were able to achieve weaker versions, or just some of these characteristics. Finally, a significant difference in the language, if not in the substance, of the suburban aspiration deserves mention. In the post-war United States, as the sociologist Bennett M. Berger argued in the late 1960s, the dream of the suburban home became part of the American Dream.3 Tom Martinson’s recent book on suburbia is called The American Dreamscape, for obvious reasons. In England, the pursuit of the happy, comfortable suburban home also amounted to a collective dream. Nonetheless, there is no common discourse of the ‘English Dream’ as a suburban one. Yet the findings of this chapter do not reveal, despite what Ruth Glass had to say, any collective attempt to realize some deeper bucolic fantasy. Suburbanization does not represent a maudlin or nostalgic pursuit of a countrified Englishness, because most people wanted to enjoy the modern conveniences of town life.4 In common with American suburbanites, however, they did not want to live in the town centre.

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The Suburban Aspiration

A Nuanced Anti-Urbanism: England The suburban aspiration, in common with so many of the forces which created twentieth-century suburbia, originated in its modern form in the industrial cities of the nineteenth century. The flight from the urban centres to the peripheries was largely based upon the desire of middle-class households to quit what they perceived as rapidly growing, often overcrowded, dirty and dangerous town and city centres for a more rural location. These aspirations became more extensive within middle-class values as industrialization took off.5 The industrial revolution in the two countries occurred at different times, however. In England, it began during the late eighteenth century, and the country was established as the world’s leading industrial power by the mid-nineteenth century. In the United States, although there was industrialization in some northern areas in the first half of the nineteenth century, the industrial take-off occurred largely following the Civil War of 1861 to 1865. The English middle-class aspiration to move out to the suburbs flourished during the reign of Queen Victoria.6 The industrial revolution’s northern heartland towns of Lancashire, and the city of Manchester in particular, may be viewed as paradigmatic of the suburban trend among the English bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century. Entrepreneurs, responsible for the creation of such industrial centres, were the first to evacuate them. ‘As the northern towns grew’, argued a conservative history of the middle classes, the middle classes prospered at the cost of suppressing their humanity, of refusing to see what went on about them. When the towns became too insanitary, they built suburbs for themselves and cultivated the suburban values which go with them.7

These values were under attack by the turn of the century. For the Edwardian radical-liberal C.F.G. Masterman, the middle-class suburb was the lamentable consequence of rising standards of living. His critique of the conservative and sedentary consequences of suburban affluence anticipated that of many antisuburban writers since. ‘Is this to be the type of all civilisations’ he asked, ‘when the western world is to become comfortable and tranquil, and progress finds its grave in a universal suburb?’8 Yet Masterman was also well aware of unsavoury and threatening aspects of the city-centre purlieus which stimulated the middle-class evacuation. The perception of a population given too readily to drinking and gambling, and of voluble and excitable crowds, was one shared by Masterman himself.9 The middle-class distaste for town-centre living was thus a continuing one throughout the Victorian and Edwardian years, that is, until 1914.

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Suburban Century Between the wars, however, with the creation of the speculatively built ‘Dunroamin’ developments, and of the new suburban council estates, the aspiration became more fully evident in other classes. Literature began to reflect this. George Orwell, a socialist who was none too keen on what he viewed as the crabbed world of suburbia, nonetheless understood the attractions of suburban ‘West Bletchley’, a town with countryside all around, yet which was on the main railway line to London. In his late-1930s novel Coming Up For Air, Orwell evoked the bland world of a lower-middle-class suburban man who retreats into the nostalgia of his rural childhood; a man who lives in a little semi-detached house with a privet hedge, a green front door and a name like ‘The Hawthorns’ or ‘The Myrtles’ or ‘Belle Vue’. The suburban world of fresh air and gardens, away from the smoggy and dilapidated heart of London, was evident in more ‘middle-brow’ literature about inter-war suburbia. When the English woman writer Stevie Smith wrote of her own much beloved North London suburb, she praised the qualities of suburban living. ‘The virtue of the suburb’, she wrote, ‘is this’: it is wide open to the sky, it is linked to the city, the air blows fresh, it is a cheap place to live in and have children and gardens: it smells of lime trees, tar, cut grass, roses . . .10

R.F. Delderfield’s The Avenue Story, a composite of two stories, namely The Dreaming Suburb and The Avenue Goes to War, was popular during the 1950s and 1960s with those who had lived in inter-war and wartime suburbia. The world evoked by Delderfield was one of new houses, prim gardens, friendly or disputatious neighbours and, ironically, the loss of the nearby countryside to new suburban development following the Second World War.11 Oral testimonies convey the attractions of inter-war suburban council estates for their inhabitants. The Age Exchange’s Just Like the Country, for example, describes the sort of housing that people lived in before they moved to the suburban estate: the mean rows of poky terraced housing in London, with backyards the size of the proverbial pocket handkerchief, or cramped blocks of flats. Much of that accommodation was without indoor toilets or proper bathrooms, and such conveniences as did exist were often shared between many households. Looking back, those who moved from such housing contrasted it with the new home and garden in the London County Council cottage estates, and the quiet streets. There was no shortage of appreciation of the benefits of this change in housing and location. For some it was ‘paradise’ while for others it was pleasant to be in healthier, more spacious and newer housing with nearby greenery.12 Such was the scale of suburban house-building in England between the wars, and such was the affection felt for these houses by their inhabitants, that a recent book has argued that the inter-war period witnessed the emergence of the classic residential character of modern English suburbia.13 – 54 –

The Suburban Aspiration Aerial bombardment during the Second World War further stimulated the desire to leave town and city centres. This is unsurprising. Existing problems associated with town- and city-centre housing were made worse by the collateral damage to thousands of homes. Some were totally destroyed, while others were in varying states of ruin and disrepair. The result was further sharing with relatives or neighbours, and overcrowding. In addition, the bleak regimented rows of proletarian terraced housing were a pitiful reward for those civilian heroes who had worked on the Home Front, and for those who had been in military service. They wanted better housing. In the short term, many English people gratefully received better housing in the form of ‘prefabs’, the temporary dwellings that were built since before the end of the war to accommodate returning servicemen and their families. The wartime experience stimulated the production and adoption of prefabricated models. Unlike in the United States, therefore, aerial bombardment had destroyed much housing in urban England and exacerbated the early post-war housing crisis. Thus by 1948 125,000 ‘prefabs’ had been built, most of them in England, to partly and temporarily solve the accommodation crisis. The prefabs were dismissed by the socialist Minister in charge of housing, Aneurin Bevan, as ‘rabbit hutches’. Yet the prefabs were ‘immensely popular with their inhabitants’, and some were still lived in as late as the 1990s.14 Following the war, the newly elected Labour government committed itself to dispersing new housing in two main ways. One was to continue to build more municipal council estates on cheaper land at the edges of towns. The second was the new-towns programme, initiated by the New Towns Act of 1946. Many new towns were modelled on garden-city principles pioneered at Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City. Employment was included in order to promote a measure of self-containment and to preclude long-distance commuting. However, employment was zoned into separate areas away from residential estates. One authority of planning history has argued that as the Second World War came to an end ‘people were ready to leave the overgrown metropolis’ for a new home in the suburbs or in a new town.15 What sort of housing did the majority of English people actually want? Did they really want to move from the city centres? Wartime surveys made it abundantly clear that they did. A house with a garden, in a low-density residential environment, away from the busy city centres but within commuting distance from work, was a common desire. A survey in 1943, by the Society of Women Housing Managers, for example, asked people to choose between the alternatives of a modern flat, a modern terraced house in town, or a modern house on the outskirts. ‘An overwhelming majority plumped for a suburban house’, and only 3 per cent wanted to live in a flat. The so-called cottage estates of council houses built between the wars were especially popular. The opinion-sounding organization, Mass Observation, – 55 –

Suburban Century also discovered a popular preference to move away from the centres to a house with a garden toward the edge of town.16 Hence as new suburban council estates were built during the 1950s, people who could not afford to buy a house impatiently applied for, and waited for, a council house until one became available. Beyond the council estates, affluent workers who wanted a suburban home but not a council house increasingly bought their new homes through a mortgage loan. There was an increasing penetration of owner-occupied housing by the skilled working-classes; it was no longer the preserve of the middle classes. Volume-building companies played safe, mostly, and provided hundreds of thousands of updated versions of new but nonetheless traditionally styled homes. Thus did the working classes enter en masse into the suburban housing market. The suburban and new-town migration was largely voluntary. Just how people moved, however, did raise important issues of choice. For example, a minority of people who moved to the post-war new towns went with their company, because it relocated to the new town to take advantage of cheaper business rates. Various schemes such as the Industrial Selection Scheme and the New and Expanded Towns Scheme were based upon cooperation between the new-town development corporations and the ‘exporting authorities’, the councils of the older areas. These schemes promoted the assisted relocation of companies and of workers from the ‘exporting’ areas to the new and expanded towns.17 It could be argued that these workers had less choice than those who purchased their house and were, potentially, more likely to be disappointed with the results of moving home. That was not the case, however. During the 1950s and 1960s, sociological studies of suburban migrants reported on the desire to quit the slums and poorer housing areas for a new suburban house, or a house in a new town. For those with young families, especially, the suburbs offered an opportunity to evacuate the industrial heartlands of the working class. In Worsley, a town-expansion scheme near Salford, a majority wished to move to the former from the latter, even though they had little choice in the matter. It was a case of either move or wait. Those living in Salford ‘disliked the dirt and congestion’ there and were prepared to commute to work and to see relatives in order to get ‘decent living conditions and surroundings’.18 There were similar findings for other parts of urban England, which emphasized dissatisfaction with poor housing and streets and a powerful desire for better housing in suburban conditions.19 In Bletchley, for example, an expanded town where workers had to accept a job to gain a house, one man recalled the ‘beautiful little two-bedroomed house’ he and his wife were offered by the council in the 1950s: [We] went back and said ‘yes, we’ll accept it, I’ll accept the job’. About a week or so later they said we could go and get the key for the house and start work at the Marston Brick Company. We thought it was magic.20

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The Suburban Aspiration These preferences continued. In 1970, a study of the housing wants and needs of poor families in the north-eastern city of Sunderland found that ‘The ideal location which emerges is suburban, well provided with shops and transport, but essentially clean, quiet and near friends with parks, open spaces, and generally suitable for children’.21 Very recent studies, made in the late 1990s, found that suburbs remained considerably more popular than urban cores as first areas of residential choice.22 And this refers not only to brand new suburban estates located on the greenfield edges of towns, but to earlier suburbs: the Victorian and Edwardian suburbs, interwar housing estates, and housing estates built earlier in the post-war period. Given the choice, most people still wanted to buy a house with a garden than an apartment in the centre. And for those who could afford only to rent, a house was still preferred to a flat. To quote from one report in the year 2000: Locational preferences are weighted in favour of suburban areas. Both traditional suburbs with few facilities, and suburbs with a wider variety and denser concentration of facilities, are liked.23

The report also emphasized that easy access to the countryside was regarded as a good thing, but was not an overriding concern. Higher densities, moreover, were regarded as a negative feature. And suburbanites have long been, and still are, willing to encounter the difficulties of commuting in order to enjoy their suburban home as well as the advantages of urban life. Low-density residential suburbs were viewed as healthier and less polluted than inner-urban areas. For parents, suburbs were widely regarded as safer for children, and friendlier than the anonymous, even threatening, inner-urban areas of the city.24 What is clear from all of this is that antipathy toward urban life in the industrial city centres had been developing in England during and since the Victorian years. This antipathy was no longer a middle-class monopoly. Millions of workingclass people, given the opportunity to live in new housing estates, whether on the edges of town or in the new towns, were keen to move home in order to take that opportunity. Ultimately, most people left the older housing areas because they liked the idea of going. This voluntarism explains the continuation of urban dispersal into the early twenty-first century. Yet the nature of many suburbs which people were moving to was changing. Many thousands of earlier suburbs, built in the Victorian years, the Edwardian years and between the wars, had matured and changed over the subsequent decades. Furthermore, from 1970 edge-city development sprang up on the outskirts of many suburbs. One of England’s most influential writers on edge-city development, Paul Barker of the Institute of Community Studies, has shown how edge cities appealed – 57 –

Suburban Century to the suburban preferences of those who moved there. Barker is in sympathy with Joel Garreau’s famous book on American edge cities, and he has argued that the rush to condemn and criticize such peripheral expansion and its shopping malls rests not simply upon fears for the countryside, but also upon the English vice of snobbery. Barker’s voice is deliberately directed against the elitism of leftist New Statesman readers, and High Tory Daily Telegraph readers, who do not try to understand the attractions of life in new peripheral housing estates.25 During the 1980s and 1990s, then, the new housing estates, the retail parks and malls, and the nearby multiplex cinema and assorted restaurants and other leisure facilities amounted to a further manifestation of the continuing cultural preference for suburban as opposed to city-centre living. In fact, such facilities that were once located in the centre had now became adjacent to English suburbia. There was, subsequently, more choice in where people could go to shop, to eat and to have a night out.

Nuanced Anti-Urbanism: the United States In a fashion strongly similar to that for the English bourgeoisie, the nineteenthcentury American middle class cultivated the suburbs and the suburban values that went with them. The dislike of busy city living was concomitant with a liking for both the nearby open country and the accessible city centre. As one inhabitant of a New England suburb wrote in 1871, ‘We were living in the country with the conveniences and luxuries of the city about us. The house was almost new and in perfect repair.’26 Such sentiments were expressed as America’s phenomenal industrial revolution and its accompanying urbanization were beginning to accelerate and expand, notably in the north-east and the mid-west. In these vast regions, industrialization engendered urbanization, and suburbanization was one dimension of the growth of urban America. Industrial Chicago, for example, was as much a flat city of low-rise housing as it was the city of the skyscraper. Chicago’s upward and outward growth between the 1870s and the 1920s means that it may be viewed as a microcosm of the profound changes growing in the United States, just as Manchester has been viewed as throwing into relief the urban splurge resulting from the English industrial revolution.27 Within the period from the end of post-Civil War reconstruction to the American entry into the First World War, the United States established itself as the world’s pre-eminent industrial power, and home of some of the world’s newest and most exciting cities. But the ghettos and some poor inner areas of big American cities were characterized by overcrowded and badly maintained tenements, by decaying town housing, and by dirt and disorder. Harlan Douglass’s sociological study of the ‘suburban trend’ in industrial America, made during the 1920s, noted

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The Suburban Aspiration the ‘intentionally contrasting environment’ of suburbia with that of the city centres, a contrast based upon the ‘decentralisation of consumption’. Products and wealth were made in the city centres but enjoyed in the suburban home.28 The varying character of suburbs reflected their differing class composition. There were planned residential suburbs, with few if any wage earners present in the houses. In addition there were many less well planned but nonetheless exclusive residential suburbs. American fiction provides some insights into the nuanced antiurbanism of the suburban aspiration within wealthy suburbs. In Sinclair Lewis’s inter-war novel, Babbitt, the main character and his family lived in a Dutch Colonial-style house in the district of Floral Heights, just three miles from the centre of the city of Zenith, with its high-rise offices. George F. Babbitt’s boastful house was, of course, not just a symbol of wealth made in the city, but of the ‘group identity’ of similarly placed capitalists in big houses.29 A further category was that of ‘mixed’ suburbs containing both residential suburbia and industry. Then there was also the purely industrial suburb. It contained more lower-class workers, and was often close to employment, but nonetheless it was far enough away from the industrial city centre to be suburban.30 Scholarship on working-class suburbs in the period from 1900 to 1950 has shown that while they were not exactly as well endowed as wealthy middle-class suburbs, they still offered workers and their households some semblances of suburban housing conditions, ‘albeit on a very modest scale’.31 They also offered ‘cheap land, a lower density of living than in the central city, access to surrounding countryside or bush, and reasonable opportunities for home ownership’.32 Similar points have been made for the poor African American suburban settlements around some northern cities during the 1930s and 1940s.33 Douglass was well aware of the attractions of lower-density living. It allowed for roomier conditions. There was adjoining open countryside, especially for further-out suburbs, yet the city was always within reach.34 And as if he was anticipating the post-war rise of sunbelt cities in the southern states, Douglass even related the appeal of suburban living to a warm climate. He observed the ‘unexpected degree of suburban development surrounding the cities of the South’ and the rise of the ‘summer resort suburb’.35 The inter-war years also witnessed the beginnings of the retirement suburbs. In England, climate cannot be seen as such a key factor in decentralization, although the closest comparison may be the phenomenon of senior citizens retiring to bungalows in coastal towns.36 The motor car became essential to the pursuit of the suburban aspiration, and that was true for most income levels. The Lynds, for example, in their two Middletown studies, found that the automobile was perceived as both desirable and essential by most Americans.37 As we saw in the previous chapter, the enormous growth in motor-car ownership and usage between the wars enabled Americans to use their cars for commuting between home, work and the town and city centres. – 59 –

Suburban Century Speculative builders increasingly built new subdivisions around the cities because the car provided the spatial mobility desired by suburbanites: they could and did keep their distance from the city centre and the workplace, while possessing the means of access to both.38 Yet speculative builders had no monopoly of understanding of the suburban aspiration between the wars. For the ideals of the three greenbelt towns, and the appeal which they held for many Americans in poor or inadequate housing, deserve a rightful place in any history of the suburban aspiration. For Clarence Stein, ‘these three towns [were] America’s outstanding demonstrations of New Towns’ because they synthesized the garden-city ethos with Radburn-style planning, and with the neighbourhood-unit principle.39 Unlike English garden cities, however, the greenbelt towns were not to contain devolved employment. Key figures on the planning staff of the towns, for example Elbert Peets at Greendale, were fully aware of Ebenezer Howard and his successes in England. Peets, however, was convinced that satellite dormitories were the best solution for the United States, ‘a thing now for the first time thinkable since the universal use and cheapness of the automobile.’40 Each greenbelt town was to be encircled by a green belt. And each was to house, at first, between 3,000 and 5,000 families in between 750 and 1,300 dwellings.41 The towns would contain a mix of housing types and sizes, but these varied between the projects. The first one thousand units at Greenbelt, for example, were comprised mostly of one-bedroomed apartments, and of two- and three-bedroomed row houses, while in Greenhills and Greendale there was a higher provision of semi-detached homes. The importance of the automobile in people’s lives was recognized in the provision of garages, integral and attached. Individual flower gardens were provided, and so too were shared vegetable allotments.42 A desire to live in the superior suburban conditions of the greenbelt towns was articulated by people in housing need. For example, a ‘Mrs. B’ wrote to the Resettlement Administration in Greenhills, Ohio during the late 1930s, in the hope of being selected for housing by the community managers. They forwarded her letter to the Cincinnati Post: After having lived in downtown Cincinnati for four years (and the west end at that) Greenhills is like a four-years’ dream come true. To think that one thousand families like my own are going to have a chance to live well-rounded existences in these modern friendly little houses makes me nervous with sincere apprehension.

And she went on to welcome the improved air and ‘pleasant home environment’ which her children and other mother’s children would enjoy.43 Mrs B’s evident wish to be selected for Greenhills explains the rather gushing tone of the letter, but she was not alone in her suburban aspiration. In deeds as

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The Suburban Aspiration well as words, inhabitants of poorer housing in both downtown and small-town industrial areas evidenced maladjustment to the lack of space and amenities in their present accommodation. The 1940s thus witnessed the continued evacuation of the city for the suburb. Some of this migration was obligatory: millions of Americans moved to work in the wartime munitions and production centres in order to gain much-needed employment following the Great Depression of the 1930s. The accommodation shortage for war workers, millions of whom migrated across the United States to find employment, led the Federal Government to provide finance for almost one hundred thousand units of defence housing. Unlike in Britain, the local authorities were not the house builders. Private interests and employers were preferred by leading Congressmen, as too much state involvement in housing was potentially ‘socialist’. Defence house-building programmes were, however, co-ordinated by the wartime National Housing Agency.44 The experiment of wartime prefabricated housing mostly took the form of trailers, but other experiments included the concrete ‘bubble houses’ and the ‘Cemesto’ homes. The use of reinforced concrete, metal frames and other cheap pre-moulded materials would provide property developers with the raw materials for subsequent masshousing initiatives. Most significantly, however, and as in England, the experience of those living in wartime housing developments gave countless people a basic appreciation of newer and better accommodation than that to which they were accustomed.45 The war provided another stimulus to the movement away from the town and city centres toward the suburbs. The returning veterans were provided for by the Veteran’s Administration, which subsidized their mortgages. There was no mass state-subsidy of mortgages in England, however, where the state had put its energies into building homes for rent. The US Housing Act of 1949 provided federal aid to slum-clearance projects and low-rent public housing. It also expanded mortgage insurances, thus underwriting millions of cheap mortgages over the coming decades. Given that millions of people wanted home-ownership, and that most early post-war public housing projects were built in inner-urban areas, the Act added great momentum to suburban dispersal.46 Unsurprisingly, then, the post-war decades witnessed a huge cultural preference for suburbia in the United States, and a nuanced anti-urbanism stayed at the heart of the suburban aspiration. A residential appraiser, writing in 1946, noted that ‘people are getting more and more tired of living in the city on small lots, in crowded neighbourhoods, with dirt and noise and high intensity of traffic’.47 A key factor in the suburbanization of Milwaukee, furthermore, was the desire of people ‘to avoid certain disadvantages of the city without depriving themselves of the urban services to which they have become accustomed’. People actively looked beyond the city toward country housing developments for less congested, cleaner surroundings, which were perceived to be safer and better for children.48 Those – 61 –

Suburban Century findings were published in 1948, yet a study of ‘familism and suburbanization’ in the Chicago suburbs of Park Ridge and Des Plaines, published in 1956, came to similar conclusions. High on the list of reasons for moving home were the quest for more space inside and outside of the home, for an ‘outdoors’ and for fresh air, for less traffic, cleaner streets and quietness.49 Synonymous with suburbanization in the 1950s and 1960s were the Levittowns, mass-produced housing developments built by William Levitt and Sons. The subdivisions built by Levitt as part of the 1950s suburban boom in the United States were the essence and peak of modern American suburbia in the twentieth century, just as the inter-war boom had been in England. As Rosalyn Baxandall and Elizabeth Ewen demonstrate in Picture Windows, the Levitt company was able to adopt some of the techniques of mass-produced and prefabricated housing that had been developed between the wars in New Deal housing and during the Second World War. Many of the materials were pre-assembled in the factory, then put together and built on site.50 Then the people moved in. Surprisingly, however, Baxandall and Ewen omit to mention the now famous study of the ‘Levittowners’ by the sociologist Herbert J. Gans, who made a detailed observation of the early years of Levittown, Pennsylvania. Gans found that attitudes toward that suburb were generally more favourable than were attitudes toward the city, although there was a gender issue here. More women than men did express a longing to be near to the greater level of practical and cultural facilities of downtown Philadelphia. And even those women who wished to move back said they would do so ‘if not for the children’. When children were factored into their locational choices, the suburbs were clearly preferred. Generally, however, Gans found that Philadelphians who ‘rejected the city even without children preferred the lack of congestion, outdoor living, fresh air, and the peace and quiet of the suburbs’.51 Yet people also wanted better transportation links to the city for its cultural, entertainment and retail facilities.52 Other studies confirmed the continuing lure of suburbia. Ford auto workers who were relocated by their company from Richmond in California to Milpitas saw the achievement of a blue-collar suburban life, even as a consequence of this enforced migration, as a realization of the American Dream.53 In common with the English working classes who moved to the new towns with their companies, or who took housing in the suburbs as a consequence of slum-clearance schemes, there was less choice for these Ford workers when compared with those who could afford to move in a wholly voluntary way. But they expressed appreciation of ‘things like “more room”, or convenience to Santa Cruz ocean resorts, or lack of congestion and crowdedness . . .’.54 And those gains were part of a wider package: a nice new home, an affordable mortgage, a sense of upward social mobility and a better material environment for the children. All this, and power tools too: ‘what more do I have a right to expect?’ asked one auto worker.55 – 62 –

The Suburban Aspiration During the 1980s, Mark Baldassare affirmed that the United States was ‘now predominantly a suburban nation’56 and he also re-emphasized that suburban growth was driven by an invasion-and-succession process from the inner cities or more urbanized areas to the suburbs.57 ‘Invasion’ meant the in-migration of poorer people, often ethnic minorities, into inner-urban areas. They succeeded the outmigrants, those who could afford to move to the suburbs and away from the central business district. From the suburbs they could enjoy their suburban amenities, and could usually afford the costs of commuting. Baldassare was also sensitive to some of the qualitative changes which suburban life had undergone, and would continue to undergo. For while people moved to the suburbs with a ‘suburban ideal’ in their heads, they often found that the realities of suburban life were no longer like those cosy 1950s and 1960s images which Americans had been weaned on. ‘While the small, residential suburb is still preferred’, argued Baldassare, ‘most American suburbs have been in transition to large, diverse places in sprawling and congested regions.’58 This was what had been referred to during the 1970s as ‘the urbanization of the suburbs’.59 Yet at the same time as certain suburban areas were urbanizing, new edge-city suburban development was occurring. As Garreau argued in 1991, America’s postwar ‘vision of progress’ was encapsulated in a new home with a garden. The design of the house was important, for as one historian of American housing has argued, the home ‘is a natural repository of people’s dreams’.60 The pursuit of those dreams facilitated ‘our push from the old downtowns’: out into the landscape we invented to further our pursuit of happiness: that suburbia which is now culminating in Edge City. We lit out once again, in the words of Huckleberry Finn, for the Territory.61

Thus far, a desire to escape over-crowded conditions in the inner cities has been emphasized. The major object of that desire was the house and the accompanying garden. Housing styles and plot sizes varied considerably, in both countries, but nonetheless a house with a garden symbolized the private attractions of suburban living.

The Suburban House and Garden: the United States An 1870s ‘specimen book’ of the key architectural designs of suburban houses and villas detailed a number of styles that would remain characteristic of the suburban landscape well into the twentieth century. Among many others, the book listed ‘cheap country cottage’ styles, ‘ornamental cottage’ designs, ‘country villas’, ‘French cottage’ and ‘modern villa residences’.62 A near-contemporary publication described the suburban houses of Cincinnati, with their verandas and mansard – 63 –

Suburban Century roofs from the French influence. Other fine houses adopted ‘English’ aspects.63 There were, moreover, predominant references to English styles within many of the best planned garden and romantic suburbs during the railroad and inter-war eras, as good architecture and environmental planning were harnessed together to provide models for middle-class suburban living.64 Not to be excluded from all this is the bungalow, humble and not so humble. In Chicago, for example, usually thought of as a city of the skyscraper and of apartments, ‘most Chicagoans have preferred to live closer to the ground.’65 It appears that they also liked living in bungalows with traditional designs, with Arts and Crafts touches inspired by William Morris and John Ruskin. The spread of the ‘Chicago bungalow’ among mid-west cities began during the later nineteenth century and peaked during the ‘bungalow boom’ of the 1920s.66 Further south, ‘California bungalows’ and Spanish-style bungalows were among many other styles which appealed to aspirant suburbanites.67 Yet the appeal of California bungalows went far beyond the warmer American states. They swept Australia, for example, ‘in unimaginably vast numbers’ during the first half of the twentieth century, adding to the existing heritage of Anglo-Australian bungalows, and providing single-storey, self-contained housing for hundreds of thousands of settlers.68 It is no exaggeration to argue that a bungalow, a steady job and the lure of the Antipodean sun was a powerful and global dimension of the suburban aspiration, operating between Britain and Australia.69 In addition to the appeal of these populist styles of bungalow, there were some important and unique American architectural innovations in single-storey housing. Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps America’s greatest twentieth-century architect, designed some notable single-storey housing within the ‘Prairie School’ of domestic architecture.70 For the wealthy American household, these large, spacious, modern family homes provided comfort and solidity, but also elegance and innovation. Their design received ‘enthusiastic endorsement among the bourgeoisie in middle America’.71 In general, the appeal of bungalows lay partly in the scale and convenience of one-storey living, with a garden. With the rapid electrification of American homes during the 1920s, the growing purchase and usage of labour-saving goods, and the increasing affluence of most of the decade, the bungalow was a comfortable home, quite easily maintained.72 And unlike other forms of single-storey accommodation, bungalows offered a private garden or yard. Even those of lesser means could ‘live the dream of a detached house surrounded by greenery, although usually not very much of it’.73 The evolving heritage of suburban housing was considerably added to between the wars. Speculative developers also took those features which clearly possessed popular appeal and applied them to the housing they sold. For example, a realestate appraiser in Cleveland, Ohio noted a marked preference, at the top end of the – 64 –

The Suburban Aspiration market, for New England ‘colonial architecture’, but he also noted other styles, for example ‘early American’, ‘modified early American’, ‘modified Pennsylvania farm house’, ‘modified Cape Cod’ and ‘Georgia colonial’.74 Other evidence affirms the popularity of traditional and historicist designs. From 1934 the New Deal Federal Housing Administration (FHA), when it issued loans for home purchase, favoured ‘safe’ and well-known styles, with a marked bias toward the colonial.75 This preference for familiar styles continued within the ‘mass-produced suburbs’ of the United States in the 1950s. It reflected, significantly, a symbiosis between developers, the government and the people. Hence the FHA continued to play safe, mostly subsidizing popular and successful designs. As Gwendoline Wright has shown, the FHA emphasized ‘colonial revival, Cape Cod, Tudor, Spanish’ and safe newer departures such as the ranch style.76 The ‘rancher house’, as well as more functional adaptations of the colonial cottage, also became part of the Canadian ‘suburbs of desire’ between the wars and since.77 However, if a housing style or model ‘did not sell, it was redesigned at once’.78 This was not a process of builders imposing designs on an uncritical public. When built as single-family dwellings, such houses offered both space and privacy. Gans emphasized the strong desire for both these qualities of home life, and the fact that these were most fully offered in ‘free-standing houses’. The Levittowners, although a study of a 1950s suburb, was published in 1967, during the so-called ‘town house’ revival. As Gans argued, during the 1950s, suburban builders had not yet begun to offer town houses, so he did not know how popular they would be.79 In fact, if they were well designed and well built, town houses or row houses could and did become very popular with their occupants. In 1961, Architectural Record reported on ‘suburban town houses’ in Evanston, Illinois, and noted their popularity with their owners.80 And in the planned new suburban city of Reston, Virginia, modern town houses were a successful innovation within its walkways and parklands. As a report in Newsweek argued, a row of town houses in such an environment combined the attractions of city and country.81 There was in fact an intriguing paradox at Reston. For although this new town of the 1960s had been planned as an alternative to suburban sprawl, it was soon viewed by newspapers and residents as one of the ‘best suburbs’ in the United States, due to its green and pleasant environment, and its housing, which became increasingly market-friendly: people preferred single detached units, as well as attractive and sizeable row houses. This paradox was in part due to the change in ownership and leadership of the town, and in part because the original founder of Reston, Robert E. Simon, continued to lobby for some of the original principles of his town, such as attractive landscaping and villagey neighbourhoods.82 Any simplistic notion of monotonous and homogenous housing, so fundamental to the anti-suburban critique, fails to acknowledge the diversity of housing – 65 –

Suburban Century tastes within the suburban aspiration.83 Yet the house, for the majority of suburbanites, also came with an added advantage, namely the individual yard or garden. A number of historians of American housing have noted the multifaceted significance of the garden, in both the warmer south and the cooler north, as an outdoor domestic space, as a plot for gardening and flowers, and as a site for recreation and entertainment with family and friends.84 Contemporary sources, too, allow us to observe the persistence of the appeal of the garden. A study of suburban leisure in Westchester County, New York State, made during the early 1930s, observed the ‘extensive interest in gardening’. This was both an individual hobby or passion, but also a shared enthusiasm. There were many garden clubs in the county, most of them affiliated with the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State. Generally, clubs were both formally and informally organized. They were opportunities not simply for gardening, but for sociability, and also for status-climbing among the key organizers.85 The love of gardens was evident in the less affluent New Deal green towns. As the community manager of Greendale, Wisconsin wrote in 1940, ‘gardens are an important feature’, and the opportunity ‘to have a piece of ground to work, to plant seeds, watch them grow and harvest their product, is one of the primary motivations of many in moving to Greendale’.86 In addition, many apartment dwellers used the communal vegetable and flower plots. With similar emphasis, a Housing Questionnaire at Greendale found that ‘nearly all families’ would cultivate a flower garden and a vegetable garden. Only 1.2 per cent of the questionnaire’s sample wanted ‘no garden’. At Greenbelt, in Maryland, only 8 per cent did not want a garden ‘of any type’ while 87 per cent wanted a flower garden.87 During the post-war suburban expansion, the desire for the yard or garden was evident in many consumer fashions. For example, one San Diego real-estate appraiser observed that ‘the barbecue trend’ of the 1950s was part of ‘the trend toward outdoor living’ evident in suburban California. Thus ‘built-in barbecues’ increased the value of the sunbelt home.88 In addition to the barbecue, which would spread across the United States in subsequent decades, the national consumption of power mowers and other garden tools expanded greatly. So too did the appearance of patios, swimming pools and changing cabanas. As Kenneth T. Jackson critically commented, by the 1980s, many American backyards were ‘over-equipped, even sybaritic’ with such luxuries.89

The Suburban House and Garden: England The suburban ingredients of ‘the good life’ were not so very different in England. By 1914, the planned garden cities and garden suburbs, and the middle-class suburbs of many larger towns and cities, had demonstrated the attraction of the

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The Suburban Aspiration substantial house and garden. There were four main Edwardian domestic architectural styles: Tudor, neo-Georgian, the French-influenced ‘mievre’, and Queen Anne.90 As in the United States, moreover, the bungalow grew in popularity before the First World War. The bungalow was Anglo-Indian in origin and had been built mostly in wealthy suburbs before 1914. After 1918 it was increasingly established as a major form of suburban housing. Again, in common with preferences in the United States, the functional convenience of single-storey living appealed to many people. The Ideal Home Exhibition in 1923 presented a ‘bungalow town’ of labour-saving, low-cost housing. This was before the bungalow became culturally and demographically associated with the elderly and with retirement to the seaside.91 In all, 2.5 million houses for home ownership were built between the wars. Although the bungalow was represented in this, the semi-detached house became the most visible type of suburban housing. Building developers took such motifs as Tudor half-timbering and applied them en masse to the ‘Dunroamins’ built for owner-occupation.92 Furthermore, a minority of builders attempted to deviate from the dominance of traditional styles by trying on exterior designs with a more modern appearance, such as ‘Art deco’ and the adventurous cube-like ‘type X’ houses with their mono-pitched roofs. These were not hugely popular.93 Although the design of ‘corporation suburbia’ was generally more austere, during the 1920s and 1930s stylistic adornments were added to houses on some inter-war council estates, for example the neo-Georgian influences on the terraced housing and cottages in Liverpool.94 The less ornamented appearance of council houses, however, and the smaller range of housing styles, threw into sharp relief that fact that, because of lack of purchasing power, council tenants had less housing choice when compared with English owner-occupiers or American homeowners. Nevertheless, between the wars and afterward the new council house was more often than not a delight to its new tenants. People who had been used to overcrowded rooms, inadequate sanitation, and dank and depressing streets were now presented with new clean housing, electricity, internal conveniences, and a garden, for which they were grateful. As illustrated above, there is much oral and sociological evidence to prove this.95 The cultural aspiration to live in suburban housing continued after 1945, and the design of housing reflected the continuing popular preference for traditional styles. As the architectural historian J.M. Richards (Sir James Richards) wrote soon after the Second World War, ‘the suburban environment is the choice of people who know what they like, and the architecture of the suburb may even be called a true contemporary vernacular.’96 The post-war period, however, witnessed the application of both traditional and non-traditional housing styles. For example, the simple and partially drop-tiled – 67 –

Suburban Century facia of the ‘Anglo-Scandinavian’ school was built in volume in the 1950s and 1960s.97 Yet such modes of design could not disguise the continuing appeal of more familiar and traditional houses bedecked with Tudor or Georgian references. That appeal was amply demonstrated in the new suburban-style city of Milton Keynes from 1970. During the 1970s, the Milton Keynes Development Corporation built a number of its public-sector estates to quite rigid modern designs, using materials such as aluminium to clad the housing. Those particular estates drew forth criticism from their tenants who wanted to alter the appearance of their housing, for example, to have pitched as opposed to flat roofs, and to clad exteriors in less harsh materials. The unpopularity of those estates compared with more familiar housing developments, both public and private, was well known in the city by 1980.98 During the 1980s and 1990s, moreover, traditional half-timbering, Georgian features and myriad garden-suburb designs returned with a vengeance to the housing built for home ownership in Milton Keynes. This was partly because the Conservative government, and the new leadership of the Development Corporation from 1983, began to promote higher levels of owner-occupation, and builders returned to safe designs as the market for owner-occupied housing grew. Some houses were described as a ‘post-modern medley’ of such styles.99 From 1983, then, Milton Keynes threw into relief the new suburban housing which was springing up all over the country. In England, as in the United States, there was more than a little variety in suburban housing, although the dominant and most sought-after styles were traditional. Most suburbanites wanted a house that looked like a house. They also wanted the house to be in a garden. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the affinity between the detached suburban house and its garden, within a low-density Arcadian landscaped setting, was affirmed by the middle-class garden- and romantic-suburbs in England and the United States.100 In working-class council estates, moreover, well-tended gardens were a proud announcement of the suburban home. Out of twenty thousand council tenants in Manchester, for example, only fifty were served with council notices for ‘non-cultivation of garden’ over a five-year period from 1929 to 1933. The council’s housing director stated that even new tenants with no previous gardening experience readily embraced the activity.101 The garden was essential to the external presentation of the house, to its sense of defensible space. If a neatly tended front garden allowed the house-proud suburbanite to impress the outside world, the back garden was a private family or household space. A garden was also a site for artistic self-expression through flower and plant cultivation and landscape design.102 Beyond the home itself, the interest in the garden stimulated interaction and sociability, as well as competitiveness, with like-minded gardeners. As in the United States, suburban areas fostered many horticultural and gardening societies. In the course of the suburban – 68 –

The Suburban Aspiration century, these began with the clubs in the garden suburbs, and their number proliferated with the rise of suburbia, culminating in the national passion for gardening in the 1990s.103 The popularity of gardening created the demand for the garden centres, for gardening magazines and journals, and also for television programmes. The BBC’s long-running Gardener’s World, for example, began as Gardening Club in 1955, and it stimulated many copycat programmes and series.104 Furthermore, in both England and the United States, the internet provides an exciting array of websites, both commercial and hobby-horse, for gardeners and garden lovers. This linkage between suburban enthusiasms and the connections made by like-minded people in cyberspace may be interpreted as a loosely-knit and dispersed ‘metropolitan planetary network’ of gardeners sharing their interests via the screen.105 Thus at least one global network had its origin in the more localized pursuit of residential gardening.

A Nice Neighbourhood in the ‘Anglo-American’ Suburb This section synthesizes two closely-connected elements of the suburban neighbourhood, namely the environmental quality immediately beyond the home, and the perceived quality of the people who lived there. This is social tone. In both countries, the wealthy middle-class suburbanites who settled in those classic planned romantic and garden suburbs of the early twentieth century – discussed elsewhere in this and other chapters – knew exactly what they wanted beyond their immediate home: a well-provided but not over-provided neighbourhood, attractive landscaping, and quiet streets in a safe and convenient location. And in thousands of mixed-class and blue-collar suburbs, as noted above, millions of people attempted to achieve the best residential environment that they could afford. Access to amenities was particularly important to the idea of a good neighbourhood. In both countries, the proximity of convenience shops and stores for daily needs was of paramount importance for most people. Nearby sports and leisure facilities were also liked. ‘Throughout the past hundred years’ argues Mary Corbin Sies, ‘suburban residents have articulated their desire for an amenity-rich domestic environment’, not only because it gave meaning and a sense of place to a local suburb, but also because good local amenities kept both property prices and the material well-being of the suburb to the required standard.106 Yet any idea that the immediate neighbourhood should be full of busy shopping streets, and contain many pubs or bars, was very much a city dwellers’ preference, not a suburban one, as was discussed in the section on nuanced anti-urbanism. Place and people were inextricably intertwined. In both England and the United States the social tone of the area was essential to happiness there. Social tone was based upon the perception of the types of people who lived in a given suburb. In England, the suburban pecking order was largely based upon class and status – 69 –

Suburban Century perceptions. As the leading housing advisor Catherine Bauer observed in 1951, however, class division was not a uniquely English phenomenon; economic-class segregation in American urban areas ‘has been fairly universal’.107 Hence in his largely humorous book on the United States, first written during the 1980s, Paul Fussell argued that the size of the house, its name, the manicuring of the lawn, the length of the drive and so on were all ways in which middle-class suburbanites set themselves apart from, or above, those whom they considered beneath them.108 High educational attainment was closely related to high income and occupational status in American suburbs, a point also pertinent to England.109 However, in the United States, education, status and suburban school location was more palpably scored through with the problem of racial discrimination than in England. Race and schooling was a prominent public issue in the post-war United States compared to circumstances in England. Kenneth T. Jackson has argued that for white parents, the well-equipped and attractive buildings of the suburban school ‘promised some relief from the pervasive fear of racial integration’ when compared to the poorer educational establishments in the inner city.110 Millions of white Americans living in middle-class suburbs attempted to keep blacks not only out of their streets but also away from their schools. Desegregation at school was supposed to have been effected following the historic Brown versus the Board of Education decision in 1954, a major victory, in theory at least, for the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). The bussing crises of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, however, during which some suburban whites physically attacked the buses bringing in black children to white schools, were inextricably part of white suburban resistance to black integration.111 There was no bussing crisis in England, although parental aspirations and insecurities for their children were clearly apparent. The educational system in England was and remains very different to that of the United States, but there is evidence that the quality of school was indeed a factor in the location choices of many English parents. Sociologies of education made during the 1960s found that middle-class parents were adept at choosing, or paying for, the best schools for their children. Others suggested that aspiring working-class parents made links between their residential choices and the educational opportunities of nearby schools. They wanted their children to pass the requisite exams to go to the higherstatus and higher-achieving grammar schools, as opposed to the secondary modern or comprehensive schools. They were thus keen to live within reach of good primary schools to gain the proper preparation for the ‘Eleven Plus’ exam. This sorted children out, at the tender age of eleven, into ‘grammar school’ material, or not. Access to a good grammar school was important not only for home owners, but also for ambitious working-class parents living in council estates.112 This relationship of schooling to the aspirations of different classes of suburbanites is a potentially rich area for further comparative investigation. – 70 –

The Suburban Aspiration There were more blatant examples of class and status consciousness in English suburbs. During the saga of the Cutteslowe Walls in Oxford, which began during the 1930s, the home owners of an Oxford suburb built walls across the pavement and road to keep out the tenants from the adjacent council estate. Here was symbolic proof of the resistance to the mixing of social classes in England, and of the great tenure divide between ‘private’ and council tenants. Those walls were not knocked down until the 1960s.113 In the United States, racial prejudice built physical suburban barriers. Writing in the 1950s, the journalist Charles Abrams, a passionate advocate of housing reform, noted the lamentably strong connection between status and ethnicity in American suburbs, especially in the South. For example, in Miami, Florida, a public-housing project for blacks was built with walls around it to separate it from an adjacent white housing development. The project was called ‘Liberty City’. African Americans who attempted to move into housing beyond the walls were subjected to hostility from white residents.114 And in Atlanta, Georgia during the early 1960s, barricades were built across the Peyton Road Bridge to prevent blacks from even driving through white suburbs, let alone living in them.115 Furthermore, there was differentiation not simply between suburbs and ‘other’ areas, but within local residential estates or subdivisions. In England, many people living in council estates were extremely fearful of ‘roughs’ and that the estate might ‘go down’. For example, the BBC journalist James Tucker found during the 1960s that ‘some of the bitterest class denunciations of council house living comes from those who have one’. Sociological studies of post-war housing estates the sense of superiority felt by some workers and the accusations of snobbishness levelled by others. Those feelings stemmed from the continuing rough versus respectable division within the subjectivity of the English working classes, a division which has continued throughout the post-war years.116 Internal divisions on American subdivisions intertwined status perceptions with class and racial prejudice. An early post-war study of Greenbelt, Maryland demonstrated how the town’s neighbourhoods soon succumbed to a microstratification at the levels of ‘interpersonal relations’. This was true of both lower- and middleincome streets.117 But internal divisions occurred most blatantly when ethnic minorities penetrated through the informal and formal apparatus intended to keep them out, and tried to make a home for themselves. Alongside racial hostility, concern about property prices also motivated this defence of the suburban neighbourhood. In the 1990s, for example, many long-established Levittowners resented the appearance of Hispanics. Yet those expressing concern had themselves emigrated to the United States from Europe during the 1950s and settled in Levittown.118 Finally, and in relation to this, the phenomenon of ‘suburban persistence’ is integral to the idea and reality of a pleasant and exclusive neighbourhood. In part, – 71 –

Suburban Century this term refers to the ability, as it were, of suburbs to retain and even improve upon their original class composition via exclusionary devices.119 Yet suburban persistence and exclusivity has also rested upon what might be seen as ‘natural’ exclusion, because only people with very high purchasing power could afford to move to the wealthiest suburbs in the first place. This automatically precluded ‘unwanted’ people. Hence, many originally prosperous and class-specific suburbs have remained as bywords of suburban kudos. Some obvious English examples include Hampstead and Bedford Park in London, and Bournville in Birmingham. In the United States, Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, Shaker Heights in Cleveland, Ohio, Short Hills in New Jersey and a number of Chicago romantic suburbs are still sought-after destinations. As Palen has argued, there was a self-fulfilling prophecy about such suburbs. He was writing about American suburbs but the point is equally relevant to posh English suburbs. Their persistent high environmental qualities were based upon the long-term maintenance of rising property values, and the concomitant exclusivity of the high-quality residential environment, and that in turn attracted high-income earners.120 Both the United States and England, moreover, have undertaken conservation measures to protect the best nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century suburban environments from losing the integrity of the original buildings and estate layout.121 The continued success of those earlier planned residential suburbs is of great significance because they link the beginnings of the last suburban century with the beginning of the present one.

Conclusion This chapter has argued that there was a complementary relationship between a nuanced anti-urbanism, the suburban home and garden, and the suburban neighbourhood in both the United States and England. Most suburbanites clearly strove to realize this ideal, but what they could and did settle for, however, was largely based upon income. Nonetheless, the continuing growth of suburbia in both England and the United States evidenced the persistent appeal of the suburban ideal. While there were divisions between different urban groups, moreover, the suburban aspiration was embraced by people from different social and economic backgrounds. Ostensibly separated by class and racial prejudices, they at least shared the desire to live in a suburban home.

Notes 1. Ruth Glass, ‘Urban sociology’, in Ruth Glass (ed.), Clichés of Urban Doom and Other Essays (Oxford, 1988), pp. 63–4. – 72 –

The Suburban Aspiration 2. Alison Ravetz with Richard Turkington, The Place of Home: English Domestic Environments, 1914–2000 (London, 1995), p.18. 3. Bennett M. Berger, ‘Suburbia and the American Dream’, in Sylvia Fleis Fava (ed.), Urbanism in World Perspective: A Reader (New York, 1968), pp. 434–44. 4. See Peter Mandler, ‘Against “Englishness”: English culture and the limits to rural nostalgia, 1840–1940’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 7, 1997, pp. 174–5. 5. F.M.L. Thompson (ed.), The Rise of Suburbia (Leicester, 1981). 6. Thompson, ‘Introduction’, in Thompson (ed.), The Rise of Suburbia, p. 2. 7. Roy Lewis and Angus Maude, The English Middle Classes (Harmondsworth, 1953), p. 36. 8. C.F.G. Masterman, ‘The condition of England’ (1909), quoted in Alan A. Jackson, The Middle Classes, 1900–1950 (Nairn, Scotland, 1988), p. 4. 9. Gareth Stedman Jones, ‘Working-class culture and working-class politics in London, 1870–1900: notes on the re-making of a working-class’, in Gareth Stedman Jones, Languages of Class: Studies in English Working-Class History, 1832–1982 (Cambridge, 1985), p. 180; Kate Flint, ‘Fictional suburbia’, Literature and History, 8/1, 1982, p. 69. 10. Stevie Smith, ‘A London suburb’, in Stevie Smith, Me Again: The Uncollected Writings of Stevie Smith (London, 1988), p. 104. 11. R.F. Delderfield, The Avenue Story (London, 1964). 12. Age Exchange, Just Like the Country: Memories of London Families Who Settled the New Cottage Estates, 1919–1939 (London, 1991). 13. J.W.R. Whitehand and C.M.H. Carr, Twentieth Century Suburbs: A Morphological Approach (London, 2001). 14. Peter Hennessy, Never Again: Britain, 1945–1951 (London, 1993), p. 173. 15. Peter Hall, ‘The people: where will they go?’ Planner, 71/4, 1985, p. 8. 16. Mark Clapson, Invincible Green Suburbs, Brave New Towns: Social Change and Urban Dispersal in Postwar England (Manchester, 1998), pp. 68–72. 17. Clapson, Invincible, pp. 141, 198; Andrew Homer, ‘Administration and Social Change in the Postwar British New Towns: A Case Study of Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead, 1946–70’ (Luton: University of Luton Ph.D. thesis; unpublished, 1999), p. 70 18. J.B. Cullingworth, ‘Social implications of overspill: the Worsley social survey’, Sociological Review (New Series), 8/1, 1960, p. 80. 19. J.B. Cullingworth, ‘The Swindon social survey: a second report on the social implications of overspill’, Sociological Review (New Series), 9/2, 1961, pp. 151–64; R.K. Wilkinson and E.M. Sigsworth, ‘Attitudes to the housing environment: an analysis of private and local authority households in Batley, Leeds and York’, Urban Studies, 9, 1972, p. 208; see also R.K. Wilkinson and E.M. Sigsworth, ‘Slum dwellers of Leeds’, New Society, 4 April 1963, pp. 9–12. – 73 –

Suburban Century 20. Marion Hill (ed.), Bigger, Brighter, Better: The Story of Bletchley (Milton Keynes, 1996), p. 10. 21. Clapson, Invincible, pp. 69, 72. 22. Michael Gwilliam, Caroline Bourne, Corinne Swain and Anna Prat, Sustainable Renewal of Suburban Areas (York, 1998); Martyn Senior, Chris Webster and Nia Blank, Residents’ Preferences for Land Use Mix and Development Density (Cardiff, 2000), passim. I am grateful to Senior for permission to quote from this paper. 23. Senior, Webster and Blank, Residents’ Preferences, p. 1. 24. Ibid., p. 13. 25. Paul Barker, ‘Edge city’, in Anthony Barnett and Roger Scruton (eds), Town and Country (London, 1998), pp. 206–15. 26. W.D. Howells, Suburban Sketches (New York, 1871), p. 12. 27. On Chicago, see William Cronon, ‘Chicago: nature’s metropolis’, in Gerrylyn K. Roberts (ed.), The American Cities and Technology Reader: Wilderness to Wired City (London, 1999), pp. 75–87; on Manchester, see David Goodman, ‘Britain’s industrial north: two urban case-studies: Manchester and Glasgow’, in David Goodman and Colin Chant (eds), European Cities and Technology: Industrial to Post-Industrial City (London, 1999), pp. 31–46. 28. Harlan Paul Douglass, The Suburban Trend (New York, 1925), pp. 84–5. 29. James S. Duncan, ‘Landscape taste as a symbol of group identity: a Westchester County village’, Geographical Review, 63/3, 1973, pp. 334–52. 30. Douglass, Suburban Trend, pp. 86; 88–90. 31. Mary Corbin Sies, ‘The city transformed: nature, technology and the suburban ideal, 1877–1917’, Journal of Urban History, 14/1, 1987, p. 105. 32. Richard Harris, ‘The making of American suburbs, 1900–1950s: a reconstruction’, in Richard Harris and Peter J. Larkham, Changing Suburbs: Foundation, Form and Function (London, 1999), p. 95. 33. Andrew Wiese, ‘Places of our own: suburban black towns before 1960’, Journal of Urban History, 19/3, 1993, pp. 30–54; Andrew Wiese, ‘The other suburbanites: African American suburbanization in the North before 1950’, Journal of American History, 85/4, 1999, pp. 1495–1524. 34. Douglass, Suburban Trend, p. 8. 35. Ibid., pp. 31–2, 114. 36. Valerie Karn, Retiring to the Seaside (London, 1977). 37. Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts (New York, 1937), pp. 245, 248. 38. Joseph Interrante, ‘The road to autopia: the automobile and the spatial transformation of American culture’, in Howard P. Chudacoff (ed.), Major Problems in American Urban History (Lexington, 1994), p. 314. 39. Clarence S. Stein, ‘Toward new towns for America: Greenbelt, Maryland’, Town Planning Review, 20/4, 1950, p. 327. – 74 –

The Suburban Aspiration 40. Lansill/UKlib/SCA/65M19/Greendale, Wisconsin: Elbert Peets, Report of the Town Planning Section of the Greendale Planning Staff, Vol. 2 (not dated). 41. Lansill/UKlib/SCA/65M19/General: Resettlement Administration, Greenbelt Towns (Washington DC: Resettlement Administration, 1936). 42. Lansill/UKlib/SCA/65M19/Miscellaneous: Resettlement Administration, Project Description Book (Washington DC: Resettlement Administration, 1936). 43. Lansill/UKlib/SCA/65M19/Greenhills, Ohio: letter, Cincinnati Post, 26 November 1937. 44. Margaret Crawford, ‘Daily life on the Home Front: women, blacks, and the struggle for public housing’, in Donald Albrecht (ed.), World War 2 and the American Dream: How Wartime Building Changed a Nation (Cambridge, MA, 1995), pp. 90–8. 45. Donald Albrecht, ‘Introduction’, in Albrecht (ed.), World War 2 and the American Dream, pp. xvi–xxvii; Robert Friedel, ‘Scarcity and promise: materials and American domestic culture during World War 2’, in Albrecht (ed.), World War 2, pp. 42–89. 46. Chudacoff, Major Problems, pp. 351–6. 47. Paul Bauer, ‘New incentives to the suburban trend’, Review of the Society of Residential Appraisers, 12/3, 1946, pp. 18–19. 48. Richard Dewey, ‘Peripheral expansion in Milwaukee County’, American Journal of Sociology, LIV/2, 1948, p. 121. 49. Wendell Bell, ‘Familism and suburbanization: one test of the social choice hypothesis’, Rural Sociology, 21/3 and 4, 1956, p. 279. 50. Rosalyn Baxandall and Elizabeth Ewen, Picture Windows: How the Suburbs Happened (New York, 2000), pp. 120–5. 51. Herbert J. Gans, The Levittowners: Ways of Life and Politics in a New Suburban Community (London, 1967), p. 273. 52. Ibid., p. 272. 53. Bennett M. Berger, Working-Class Suburb: A Study of Auto Workers in Suburbia (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968), p. 14. 54. Ibid., p. 24. 55. Ibid., p. 25. 56. Mark Baldassare, Trouble in Paradise: The Suburban Transformation in America (New York, 1986), p. viii. 57. Mark Baldassare, ‘Suburban communities’, Annual Review of Sociology, 18, 1992, p. 479. 58. Ibid., p. 479. 59. Louis H. Masotti and Jeffrey K. Hadden (eds), The Urbanization of the Suburbs (Beverly Hills, 1973), passim. 60. Robert Friedel, ‘Scarcity and promise: materials and American domestic culture during World War 2’, in Albrecht (ed.), World War 2, p. 46. – 75 –

Suburban Century 61. Joel Garreau, Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (New York, 1992), p. 368. 62. William J. Comstock, Specimen Book of One Hundred Architectural Designs, Showing Plans, Elevations and Views of Suburban Houses, Villas, etc. (New York, 1878). 63. Sidney D. Maxwell, The Suburbs of Cincinnati: Sketches Historical and Descriptive (Cincinnati, 1870), 64. Sies, ‘The city’ p. 90; Robert M. Stern and John M. Massengale, The AngloAmerican Suburb (London, 1981). 65. Wim De Wit, ‘Apartment houses and bungalows: building the flat city’, Chicago History, 12/4, 1983–84, p. 18. 66. Ibid., p. 21; J. John Palen, The Suburbs (New York, 1995), p. 53. 67. Palen, The Suburbs, pp. 52–3. 68. Anthony D. King, ‘Excavating the multi-cultural suburb: hidden histories of the bungalow’, in Roger Silverstone (ed.), Visions of Suburbia (London, 1997), p. 77. 69. Tony Dingle, ‘“Gloria soame”: the spread of suburbia in post-war Australia’, in Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, p. 190. 70. Spencer Hart, Frank Lloyd Wright (London, 1993), p. 12. 71. Robert C. Twombly, ‘Saving the family: middle-class attraction to Wright’s prairie house, 1901–1909’, American Quarterly, 27/1, 1975, p. 58. 72. Palen, The Suburbs, p. 53. 73. De Wit, ‘Apartment houses’, p. 21. 74. F. Hunter Hackett, ‘The market for luxury homes’, The Review of the Society of Residential Appraisers, 11/2, 1945, pp. 7–10. 75. Gwendoline Wright, Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America (New York, 1981), pp. 241–2. 76. Wright, Building the Dream, p. 251; see also Palen, The Suburbs, pp. 55–6. 77. Larry McCann, ‘Suburbs of desire: the suburban landscape of Canadian cities, c. 1900–1950’, in Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, p. 133. 78. Gans, The Levittowners, p. 10. 79. Ibid., p. 42. 80. Anon, ‘Suburban town houses’, Architectural Record, 129/3, 1961, p. 203. 81. Planned Community Archive/Special Collections and Archives/George Mason University/Box 10: Anon, ‘Town houses are in’, Newsweek, 9 May 1966; Joseph G. Mayer, ‘Suburbia twist: a city rises for people who vary’, The National Observer, 4 March 1963 (reprint). 82. Mark Clapson, ‘Suburban paradox? Planners’ intentions and residents’ preferences in two new towns of the 1960s: Reston, Virginia and Milton Keynes, England’, Planning Perspectives, 17/2, 2002, pp. 145–62. 83. J.W.R. Whitehand and C.M.H. Carr, ‘England’s garden suburbs: development and change’, in Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, pp. 76–90. – 76 –

The Suburban Aspiration 84. Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, (Oxford, 1987), pp. 54–62; Wright, Building, p. 254. 85. George A. Lundberg, Mirra Komarovsky and Mary Alice McInerny, Leisure: A Suburban Study (New York, 1934), pp. 61–2. 86. Lansill/UKlib/65M19/Greendale: Sherwood L. Reeder, A Report on the First Two Years of the Greendale Community (Greendale, 1940), p. 18. 87. NA/RG 196/Records of the Public Housing Administration; Histories of the Greentown Projects, 1938: Division of Suburban Resettlement, Resettlement Administration: Greendale Project History, Vol. 1; Housing Questionnaire, Greendale (Washington DC: Division of Suburban Resettlement; Resettlement Administration, 1938), p. 64; Greenbelt Project History, Vol. 2; Housing Questionnaire, Greenbelt (Washington DC, 1938), p. 44. 88. Victor R. Lundy, ‘Barbecue trends’, The Residential Appraiser, 22/12, 1956, p. 11 89. Jackson, Crabgrass, p. 279 90. Arthur Edwards, The Design of Suburbia: A Critical Study in Environmental History (London, 1981), p. 21. 91. Ravetz with Turkington, The Place of Home, p. 21. 92. Paul Oliver, Ian Davis and Ian Bentley, Dunroamin: The Suburban Semi and its Enemies (London, 1994). 93. Miles Horsey, ‘London speculative house-building of the 1930s: official control and popular taste’, London Journal, 11/2, 1985, pp. 153, 155. 94. Richard Turkington, ‘British “corporation suburbia”: the changing fortunes of Norris Green, Liverpool’, in Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, p. 60. 95. Age Exchange, Just Like the Country; Clapson, Invincible, pp. 81, 96– 108. 96. J.M. Richards, The Castles on the Ground (London, 1946), p. 13. 97. Edwards, Design, p. 162. 98. Clapson, Invincible, pp. 104, 176–7. 99. Nikolaus Pevsner and Elizabeth Williamson, The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire (Harmondsworth, 1994), pp. 502–70. 100. Michael Bunce, The Countryside Ideal: Anglo-American Images of Landscape (London, 1994), p. 158. 101. Andrzej Olechnowicz, Working-Class Housing in England Between the Wars, (Oxford, 1997), p. 210. 102. Oliver et al, Dunroamin, pp. 61, 101, 140–2, 168–9; Thompson, ‘Introduction: the rise of suburbia’, p. 15. 103. Clapson, Invincible, pp. 103–4, 159. 104. Tise Vahimagi, British Television: An Illustrated Guide (Oxford, 1994), p. 49. – 77 –

Suburban Century 105. Stephen Graham and Simon Marvin, Telecommunications and the City: Electronic Spaces, Urban Places (London, 1996), pp. 36, 42, 139. 106. Mary Corbin Sies, ‘Paradise retained: an analysis of persistence in planned exclusive suburbs, 1880–1980’, Planning Perspectives, 12, 1997, p. 168. 107. Catherine Bauer, ‘Social questions in housing and community planning’, Journal of Social Issues, 7/1 and 2, 1951, p. 22. 108. Paul Fussell, Class: A Guide Through the American Status System (New York, 1992), pp. 76–96. 109. Sies, ‘Paradise retained’, p. 167. 110. Jackson, Crabgrass, pp. 289–90. 111. Albert I. Hermalin and Reynolds Farley, ‘The potential for residential integration in cities and suburbs: implications for the bussing controversy’, American Sociological Review, 38/5, 1973, pp. 595–610; Stanley Hochman and Eleanor Hochman, The Penguin Dictionary of Contemporary American History: 1945 to the Present (New York, 1997), pp. 79–81. 112. J. W. B. Douglas, The Home and the School: A Study of Ability and Attainment in the Primary School (London, 1976), pp. 62–3; Brian Jackson and Dennis Marsden, Education and the Working Class (Harmondsworth, 1976), pp. 60–96; F.M. Martin, ‘An enquiry into parent’s preferences in secondary education’, in D.V. Glass (ed.), Social Mobility in Britain (London, 1954), p. 162. 113. Peter Collison, ‘The Cutteslowe saga’, New Society, 25 April 1963, pp. 18– 20. 114. Charles Abrams, Forbidden Neighbours: A Study of Prejudice in Housing (New York, 1955), pp. 123–30. 115. Garreau, Edge City, p. 153. 116. James Tucker, Honourable Estates (London, 1966), p. 11; Clapson, Invincible, pp. 132–5. 117. William H. Form, ‘Stratification in low- and middle-income housing areas’, Journal of Social Issues, 7/1 and 2, 1951, p. 116. 118. Gavin Esler, The United States of Anger: The People and the American Dream (Harmondsworth, 1998), p. 137. 119. Reynolds Farley, ‘Suburban persistence’, American Sociological Review, 29/1, 1964, pp. 38–47; Sies, ‘Paradise retained’, pp. 165–188. 120. Palen, The Suburbs, p. 105. 121. David L. Ames, ‘Understanding suburbs as historic landscapes through preservation’, in Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, pp. 223–38; Peter J. Larkham, ‘Conservation and management in UK suburbs’, in Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, pp. 239–68.

– 78 –

Black Suburbanization

– 4– Black Suburbanization Have you ever seen a dream house or apartment, priced just right, located where you wish to live, built with all of the conveniences you have always wanted, and then been told it was for sale or rent, but not to you? [Have] you ever seen a beautiful housing development for someone else, and found you were to be located over near the gas works, with railroad tracks, a swamp and a glue factory as your next-door neighbors? Well, I have.1

The suburbanization of African Americans has received growing attention and analysis from social scientists since 1960. The discipline of history, however, has been much slower off the mark. With one or two exceptions, American historians have either ignored black American suburbanites or largely viewed blacks as marginal to suburbia. Recent works by Andrew Wiese, however, and by Rosalyn Baxandall and Elizabeth Ewen, are changing the historiographical landscape.2 In England, the suburbanization of blacks has certainly been a theme, albeit a minor one, within sociology. But it has been completely ignored by historians. This lacuna is a remarkable one, given the increasing concern of urban historians with the evolution of major cities, and of social historians with the growth of multiculturalism since the first major post-war waves of African Caribbean and Asian immigration. In both countries, blacks have increasingly broken free of poorer housing areas and made it to the suburbs. And in both countries, it was never very easy, due to the institutionalized discrimination and to unofficial and informal opposition from whites. It is time, therefore, to paint a fuller historical picture of black suburbanization. This chapter emphasizes the key similarities and profound differences involved in the suburbanization of blacks on both sides of the Atlantic, and draws some general conclusions applicable to both the United States and England.

Context: Key Similarities and Differences between Blacks in the United States and and those in England The historical development of African-American suburbanization, and of black suburbanization in England, requires an initial discussion of the differing ethnic

– 79 –

Suburban Century contexts of both England and the United States. Considerable historical, demographic and cultural differences moulded the nature and extent of their suburbanization. In the United States, since the era of slavery, African Americans were a far larger minority than were Africans in England. Today, they number over 30 million of an American population of 270 million, or over 10 per cent. There are more African Americans than there are Canadians.3 Until the early twentieth century, the majority of African Americans lived in the south-eastern American states, where post-slavery they had been subjected to a still repressive system of ‘Jim Crow’ laws which kept them separate from and certainly unequal to whites in the public and commercial institutions of southern life. As a consequence of overt discrimination and often violent intimidation, however, many blacks began to migrate from the South in the years prior to the First World War. This was the beginning of the ‘great migration’ of African Americans as they went north to the towns and cities in order to seek out a better life for themselves and their households. That migration was still under way during the post-war years: it was one of the most profound rural-to-urban internal migrations of the twentieth century. The long-standing African population in England manifested one key difference from and one major similarity with African Americans. The difference was obvious: the black population in England was tiny before the middle of the twentieth century. But with the arrival of the ship the SS Empire Windrush from the West Indies in 1948, black immigration began, and it continued into the early 1970s, after which it tailed off largely because of legislation designed to restrict immigration.4 By 1991, all people of African origin in Britain numbered 890,000, or 1.6 per cent.5 Despite these differences in scale and time, a key similarity shared by blacks in England and the United States is strongly in evidence: blacks historically resided in just a few streets of poor housing. The African ‘Kru’ community in Liverpool, for example, threw into relief the general condition of small black communities living in dockside or industrial areas of English towns and cities.6 This was a sort of long-drawn-out historical dress rehearsal for the housing conditions of the majority of post-war African-Caribbean migrants. Yet even here, we need to be careful when comparing English and American post-war conditions. For in the United States, housing segregation was a deeply entrenched historical problem. In England, however, there was no legacy of large-scale segregation. As the Institute of Race Relations found in 1967, there was an association of ‘coloured immigrants’ with poorer parts of the city, but no entrenched racial ghettos, and it warned against the unthinking application of the term ‘ghetto’ to English cities.7 A sociologist of race and housing in England argued in 1977 that the concentration and subsequent segregation of blacks in England was ‘not particularly high, especially by North American standards’.8 – 80 –

Black Suburbanization

Official and Commercial Discrimination in the United States The concentration of blacks into poorer housing in the United States was central to their segregation within American society. The consolidation of the ghetto had occurred in large measure as a consequence of that great migration of African Americans from their largely rural backgrounds in the southern states to the northern cities.9 These ghettos were also reinforced by the continuation of the ‘new immigration’ from Eastern and Southern Europe, begun in the later nineteenth century. Earlier mass migration to the United States had largely been from northern and western Europe. The new immigration had brought into being distinctive urban communities based upon various European-Jewish nationalities, in these poorest housing areas. Partly in response to the consolidation of the ethnic ghettos, the inter-war years witnessed the continuation of another profoundly important migration process in the making of modern America, the growth of the white suburbs. As new immigrants and black migrants moved in, many whites – those who could afford to – moved out. White flight to the suburbs was a central element in the process of racial succession in the American city, described by the sociologist Paul Frederick Cressey in an article on Chicago, published in 1938. Cressey showed how some of the longer-established white groups, for example the Irish, German and Swedish communities, had been dispersing at varying rates, and to suburbs at varying distances from downtown. Moreover, the better-off sections of the newer immigrant groups, notably eastern and central European Jews, and some Italians, had begun to migrate to the suburbs since the ending of the First World War in 1918.10 Cressey argued that the common bonds of language, religion and cultural practices encouraged ethnic groups to come together in urban settings, but he made a more profound observation in relation to the themes of this chapter. The level of spatial dispersion could be interpreted as an index of social and economic assimilation into American society. The least dispersed, the more segregated, and African Americans were the least dispersed.11 Not all urban blacks lived in the ghetto, however, before 1939. In southern towns and cities, poor black suburban shanties had resulted from the era of slavery, a consequence of the ‘living out’ system which enabled blacks to move to the edges of towns and thus put distance between themselves and their white exploiters.12 In northern cities, pockets of suburban black domestic workers existed to service the affluent white homes nearby.13 There were also enclaves of black middle-class professionals dotted around American cities.14 Furthermore, as Andrew Wiese has shown, before the Second World War many African Americans moving northward from the southern states did not wish to settle in the ghetto: they preferred a house in a self-built black community on the edge of town. Poor black suburban towns such as Chagrin Falls Park lacked some of the basic amenities of – 81 –

Suburban Century home, and often endured inadequate service provision, notably public transport and sewerage systems. Nonetheless, those working-class blacks who invested in a home there could enjoy home ownership, a garden, peaceful nature and more fresh air and space than was available in the ghetto.15 Hence, any idea that it was only middle-class African Americans ‘opening up’ the suburbs deserves some modification. This trend among both middle- and working-class would gather momentum following 1960.16 Furthermore, suburban living was often achieved in the face of discriminatory practices within the housing market. A number of histories and sociologies have emphasized that ‘redlining’ and ‘steering’ practices effectively precluded African Americans from the means to better housing throughout the inter-war years, and delayed the black move to greater home ownership. Redlining was the practice of marking off areas as undesirable and not supportable by the FHA. In addition to that tactic, real-estate agents directed or ‘steered’ aspirant African Americans away from white housing areas toward the ghetto or toward transitional areas of mixed housing. Banks and mortgage lenders, moreover, refused loans to blacks.17 These practices continued into the post-war period. A considerable number of sociologies of race and housing outlined the role of stereotyping and of housing-market discrimination in maintaining the ‘chocolate city, vanilla suburb’ scenario.18 Private-housing discrimination was not only paralleled by public-housing policies: it was reinforced by them. Until the 1930s there was no federal housing policy. It was left to individual towns and cities to deal with housing initiatives and issues. Federal intervention was stimulated by the coming together of the New Deal, and the increasingly influential town-planning profession, whose leading advocates had long been calling for a ‘new day’ in housing.19 During the Great Depression, housing construction was one of many policies intended to provide work, improve national morale and repair the urban fabric of the United States. Progressive city planners found a niche for manoeuvre and experimentation within national and local government, and an opportunity to demonstrate both to the executive and to the people what city planning could achieve. Hence Rexford G. Tugwell, Head of the Resettlement Association, termed planning the ‘fourth power’, working alongside the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.20 Many historians argue, however, that despite its language of racial equality and of opportunities for all, the New Deal achieved little for African Americans.21 It certainly continued the institutionalization of housing segregation. For example, the New Deal’s suburban Resettlement Administration’s Greenbelt project in Maryland, begun in 1936, was to be accompanied by a separate black-homesteads project.22 (The South African Garden Cities Company, which built post-war new towns under the apartheid regime, also constructed racially separate new towns.)23 The sociologist Gunnar Myrdal famously condemned the ‘American dilemma’ of racial division, and both the public and private institutions that underpinned it. Writing during the Second World War, Myrdal argued that: – 82 –

Black Suburbanization The federal agency has taken over the policy of segregation used by private institutions like banks, mortgage companies, building and loan associations, real estate companies . . . When it comes to developing new subdivisions, the FHA is obviously interested in getting such a layout that property values can be maintained. Private operators, in order to secure FHA backing, usually follow the advice of the agency.24

Post-war policies continued this iniquitous state of affairs. The 1949 Housing Act provided generous subsidies for mortgage loans, via the Housing and Home Finance Agency (HHFA). The Veteran’s Administration also subsidized mortgages for ex-service personnel. The 1949 Act also subsidized slum clearance and privateenterprise-built housing for rent via the Division of Slum Clearance and Urban Redevelopment (DSCUR). The Housing Act created high hopes that radical improvements would be made for groups condemned to low-income housing.25 Despite these hopes, the prospects were poor. In 1949, the Jewish writer Charles Abrams highlighted the ‘dilemma’ that the very housing reforms intended to promote social progress lent themselves to further discrimination, and hence segregation.26 For although the war had contributed toward an extension of federal housing involvement, it had no liberalizing effect whatsoever in terms of ethnicity and housing. The discriminatory lending practices of the federal housing agencies meant that housing loans were, from the start, targeted almost exclusively at white households to the obvious disadvantage of African Americans.27 Discrimination was also built into many of the rehousing schemes supported from 1949 by DSCUR. The relocation of many African American households was focused on downtown areas, and into the highest-density schemes, instead of facilitating dispersal and the potential for integrated housing which was seen, by many housing reformers, to accompany dispersal. Segregation took the form of racial zoning ordinances, originally formulated at local level, before submission to federal authorities for approval and subsidy. DSCUR’s files of its correspondence and memoranda give many examples of concern by its leading officials that to support racial zoning was unconstitutional. Since a landmark case in 1917, ‘the right to acquire, use and dispose of property is a right which neither states nor federal government can abridge or limit on the basis of race or colour’.28 DSCUR was also concerned lest it offend the religious, labour and civil rights groups who constantly reminded the Division of its responsibilities toward equitable and integrated slum clearance and public housing. Hence, the growing number of racially motivated zoning ordinances proposed by city legislatures across the United States during the early 1950s provoked DSCUR both to announce a policy that ‘the Division has required the removal of written racial restrictions on land [in] project areas’ and to denounce racial tenets in rehousing projects.29 Banks, mortgage lenders and the federal authorities thus stood accused of conspiring to sustain inequalities and segregationist strategies in housing, hence

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Suburban Century private and public housing agencies reinforced the black ghetto. Unsurprisingly, housing issues became central to the Civil Rights movement, and to the reforming legislation which it stimulated. Yet under the Eisenhower years until 1960, and during John F. Kennedy’s short-lived presidency, legislative progress on many key aspects of civil rights was notoriously slow. Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency from 1964 to 1968 was more proactive, but reformist goals were deflected by growing concern with the Vietnam War. Nonetheless, Johnson’s Great Society programme saw the formation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during his time at the White House. But as one key textbook on post-war America observed, ‘[by] the time the Johnson administration asked for a new housing act in 1968, much of the enthusiasm for the Great Society had ebbed’.30 That act was the Fair Housing Act, and according to subsequent sociologies of ethnicity and housing, it contributed only a little to the reduction of official and commercial discrimination.31 The year of 1968 witnessed the publication of the report of the Kerner Commission into urban racial problems. The Commission was a product of the ghetto riots from 1965 to 1968. During those years, a fashionable fear about the future of American cities swept through the liberal establishment in the United States. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, argued in the British journal The Listener that ‘American cities are in trouble and they are going to have more trouble’.32 Within the context of such sentiments, the findings of the Kerner Commission were unequivocal: America was rapidly becoming two societies, separate and unequal, and polarized between the black ghettos and the white suburbs.33 In the year after the summer of love of 1967, then, a future of hate was predicted. The signs were certainly worrying to reformers. Sporadic urban riots continued. Public housing programmes for low-income households were being cut back by the new Nixon administration. To be fair to HUD, however, it did attempt from its inception to break down discrimination in ethnic-minority access to suburban housing. HUD encouraged local state governments to insert low-income housing into suburban areas, and to remove racist zoning ordinances. There was little support, however, from the Nixon administration for this. As President Nixon himself said in 1970, ‘to force assimilation in the suburbs, I think, is unrealistic’. He was more inclined to encourage suburban governments to provide a measure of minority-group housing in the suburbs.34 However, blacks determined to gain access to the suburbs continued to press for suburban low-income housing. In 1975, the famous case of Mount Laurel began, as African Americans struggled long and hard to gain the construction of garden apartments in a suburban town near to Camden, New Jersey. This is discussed later in the chapter, because it was an ultimately successful campaign mirroring the ascendancy of black suburbanization during and since the 1970s.

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Black Suburbanization

Official and Commercial Discrimination in England In England, housing policy manifested significant similarities and certain important differences when compared with the American experience. During the 1950s, many blacks replaced whites as the victims of ‘Rachmanism’, the catch-all term for exploitative and often intimidating private landlords who charged unreasonable sums for iniquitous slums.35 When West Indians turned to council housing, they often faced institutionalized discrimination. This was not just the case for post-war Caribbean migrants. Such discrimination had been rehearsed earlier in the immediate post-war years of chronic housing shortage. The Kru in Liverpool had been largely reinforced into their south-eastern district of the city by a council policy of ‘prioritising white families over black’ in the 1940s.36 During the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, public-housing policies worked against black dispersal and encouraged the segregation of African Caribbeans into the poorest housing areas. The concentration of blacks in poorer centralhousing areas, and the exodus of largely white households to suburban council housing, raised the issue of discrimination in council housing-allocation policies. However, there was a far higher proportion of mass public housing, of council housing, in England when compared to that in the United States. This dated back to the Housing Act of 1919, and was provided by subsequent Acts between the wars and after 1945. In consequence, the private-housing market was proportionately smaller. Public-housing policy, moreover, manifested a differing use of government subsidies. Whereas American housing legislation supported privatelybuilt schemes on behalf of local authorities, in England the local authorities were subsidized directly as builders, and they directly rented to their tenants in both inner-urban and suburban areas of the city. And in private housing in the suburbs, moreover, whites could rely upon English versions of steering and of misinformation from estate agents, the closest professional equivalents to realtors and real-estate agents. While housing-market discrimination was less historically entrenched than it was in the United States, it was nonetheless in evidence. Estate agents in England sometimes did what their American counterparts did, steering black homeowners away from white suburbs.37 An estate agent, quoted in Elizabeth Burney’s Housing on Trial (1967), a study made for the Institute of Race Relations, stated that ‘I would do my best to head off coloured buyers from a good suburban area or a new estate’.38 He denied it was a ‘colour bar’, and asserted that such steering was for economic and status reasons, because people worried about the value of their properties if black households moved in. This fear was reiterated a number of times throughout Housing on Trial. There were, furthermore, few black people in the new towns. As Burney found, they were under-represented in the upper working-class

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Suburban Century occupations which were disproportionately selected by new-town development corporations.39 Building societies were also culpable, because aspiring black homeowners were refused mortgages on the grounds that they were less able to pay back the loans.40 Those who were denied a mortgage from a building society, however, could apply to the council for a local-authority mortgage loan. Burney described this as ‘the readiest means for a coloured house-purchaser to move, if not into, then towards suburbia’. This availability of local-authority mortgages was taken as evidence of a less institutionalized local-government system of racial barriers in England when compared to circumstances in the United States.41 As the development of white suburbs and black inner cities became increasingly viewed as a problem during the 1960s, so the government began to consider the notion of a policy-led dispersal of blacks to the suburbs. A key difference between English and American public housing was, as noted, the greater availability of public (council) housing in England compared with that in the United States. This led, in turn, to another profound dissimilarity between British and American public housing. In England, public housing could in theory be used more directly as a ‘lever’ to disperse black minority households away from concentrated inner-urban areas to the suburbs.42 The government’s general enquiry into the provision of and conditions of council housing, which reported in 1969, was in part concerned with the lack of access of minority households to housing away from inner-urban districts of concentration. And therein was the heart of the matter: fear of ethnic concentration. Official concern about black urban concentrations referred explicitly to the experience of the United States. The Central Housing Advisory Committee, part of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG), reported on council housing in 1969. The committee was chaired by the planner J.B. Cullingworth. It discussed the possibilities of dispersal as a means of preventing ‘the spectre of the American ghetto, the race riots and the enormous difficulty being experienced in the United States . . .’43 The Cullingworth Commission, while aware that American problems were in key respects more entrenched than in England, nonetheless inadvertently shared the concern of the Kerner commission about the social consequences of urban segregation and racial polarization. Cullingworth drew attention to the ‘appalling housing and environmental conditions in many areas of concentration’ but denied it was solely an issue of colour, because many whites lived in congested and overcrowded areas. Instead, Cullingworth wanted to break the assumption of association between colour and bad housing, and accepted ‘the strong case for a policy of dispersal.’44 The Institute of Race Relations had made this case to the Cullingworth Committee. The Institute emphasized the dangers of continued minority concentration in overcrowded and impoverished housing. ‘These dangers’, argued Cullingworth: – 86 –

Black Suburbanization were thought to be greatest in the case of West Indians. There is the danger of the growth of separate communities, alienated from the majority society and permanently disadvantaged.45

The Committee did, however, warn that the compulsory mass dispersal of ethnic communities against their will might well disrupt self-sufficient and often closeknit groupings. Moreover, the committee accepted the multi-culturalist view of the Labour Government, expressed by the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, which warned against ‘a flattening process of assimilation’ while aiming for ‘equality of opportunity accompanied by cultural diversity in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance’.46 ‘Assimilation’ may be taken to mean the adaptation, but not the ‘flattening’, of ethnic-minority cultures within dispersal. A number of local authorities did pursue policies that encouraged West Indians to move out to suburban estates. In Birmingham, for example, between 1969 and 1975, the city council attempted to unravel the concentration of coloured minorities as central estates ‘filled up’. This scheme was unsuccessful. Negligible gains in housing standards were part of the problem. Black households in the suburban rings were ‘almost as likely to receive flats and maisonettes as those housed in the inner ring’ because they were viewed as low-priority cases. The best and largest suburban housing went to whites, and that was a disincentive to move out.47 Such iniquitous patterns in the allocations of council-housing were replicated elsewhere in England, and continued into the 1990s.48 The higher number of female-headed households who were Caribbean was seen by one study to contribute to a higher level of poverty, and to assumptions among housing officers that they were betteroff in flats and smaller houses rather than bigger homes. This facilitated the overrepresentation of black woman-headed households in cheaper council housing within inner-urban wards.49 Many people of African descent, furthermore, preferred the safety and familiarity of their inner-urban communities. The black writer Michael Banton knew this when he wrote of ‘the coloured quarter’ in Stepney, east London, in 1955. One of a number of examples Banton gave to prove his point was that of a Nigerian football-pools winner who, having bought a house in a salubrious area of south London, could not get anyone to go with him.50 This was because moving out to a suburban council estate could be quite an isolating experience. A 1970s London study reported a white wife of a Jamaican postman who had moved to a southLondon estate and wanted to move on to Peckham or Cardiff, where there were more West Indians. ‘We didn’t get on with our neighbours’, she told the enquiry, ‘and we need a bigger house because of the five kids’. There were only two other black families in the street, who lived over one hundred yards away.51 Not surprisingly, many West Indian and other black heads of household were ambivalent about the advantages of leaving such areas as Brixton in South London or St Paul’s in Bristol for a suburban council estate. – 87 –

Suburban Century

White Flight, White Riot: Unofficial Forces for Segregation in the United States The phenomenon of white flight, first identified by the Chicago School of sociologists between the wars, resumed soon after the Second World War was over. Over 3.6 million whites left America’s twelve largest cities for the suburbs, as ‘white suburbanization peaked in the 1950s’.52 During that decade, however, 4.5 million non-whites moved to those cities, and to the poorer parts of those cities. ‘The new suburban communities’, states an American history textbook, ‘remained nearly all white.’53 ‘Nearly all white’, that is, but not completely white. In addition, there were many largely white older suburbs that were also sought after by blacks. Some white people in both the established and the new suburbs resisted this. In 1951, Clarence Mitchell, Head of the Washington Bureau of the National Association of the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) attacked the FHA in a speech which linked institutionalized discrimination faced by blacks with white hostility to blacks in predominantly white residential areas. ‘What the courts have forbidden state legislatures and city councils to do’ stated Mitchell, and what the Ku Klux Klan has been unable to accomplish by intimidation and violence, the present Federal Housing Policy is accomplishing through a monumental program of segregation in all aspects of housing which receive government aid.54

Mitchell’s reference to violence stemmed from earlier events he had witnessed in Birmingham, Alabama, but contemporaneous violence in Cicero, an established inner suburb of Chicago, demonstrated that the problem of popular resistance to blacks in suburbs was not confined to the south. The Cicero riots were attempts by white residents to prevent an African-American family from renting a nearby property. The head of the household was a war veteran, and a university-educated white-collar employee of the Chicago Transit Authority. He and his wife were capable of paying a high monthly rent, and may be viewed as representative of many relatively affluent African-American households who preferred a suburban home to one in the inner-city. The disorder grew worse as other black families moved in nearby. It included crowd demonstrations, threatening behaviour, window breaking, and real and attempted arson. Memoranda between federal housing evidenced a number of concerns. These concerns must be placed within the context of the cold war between the Western democracies and Communism, a war that was intensifying from the early 1950s. There were thus worries that riots provided ‘gratuitous propaganda’ for the Kremlin and for American communists. There was also frustration that the ‘newsworthy’ features of the rioting were obscuring the fundamental issue of the inadequacy of the private-housing market for African Americans seeking comfortable homes, which consequently put the onus of – 88 –

Black Suburbanization provision onto public housing. Local factors, notably the history of ‘anti-Negro housing violence’ in Chicago, were also emphasized. And there was genuine criticism of the political-administrative apparatus of Chicago for its endorsement of segregated housing. This included a decision by the grand jury of Cook County, Illinois to find the black household guilty of inciting riot in Cicero. ‘The City of Chicago’ stated one memo, ‘has set the example for Cicero and other suburbs for invoking violence to restrict Negroes to the racial ghetto.’55 Violence against African-Americans occurred not only in older areas but also in new suburban developments. The Levittowns threw into relief a white resistance to African Americans from the new and aspirational communities of post-war America. It was clear that some black people wanted to break through this resistance in order to live in these new developments. William Levitt himself stated publicly in 1958 that he would not sell houses to Negroes. That utterance followed a racial disturbance at Levittown in Pennsylvania, after a black family purchased from a white homeowner. A woman, presumably white, said that ‘nice neighbours became ugly, took their kids evenings and went over to the Negro house to throw stones’.56 In his social study of Levittown, Herbert J. Gans suggested from that ‘the majority of Levittowners were uncomfortably ambivalent’ about the assimilation issue. Gans, moreover, understood the white status consciousness and economic insecurity which was at the core of the working-class racist response: Some were hostile and threatened to move or to protest violently. These were primarily working-class people who had left the city because their neighbourhood was becoming predominantly Negro. Unable to afford another move, they were fearful that the same mass invasion of lower-class Negroes would occur in Levittown, confronting them with a sudden and visible decline in property values and status.57

Similar insecurities among the white working-class were to be found in English towns and cities. And as in the United States, they were found in older-established parts of town, as well as in the new suburbs.

White Flight, White Riot: Unofficial Forces for Segregation in England England has a long history both of racial violence and of more subtle forms of discrimination against immigrants. Hostility was often worse in the poorest industrial and dockland districts in the larger towns and in cities. In 1919, for example, there were riots against ‘aliens’ in Liverpool, in east London and on Tyneside. Other disturbances took place during the inter-war years.58 The running sore of inner-urban racial violence continued into the post-war years, but it began to spread, spatially, with the voluntary and council-led dispersal – 89 –

Suburban Century of white households. The most dramatic example of this was the Notting Hill race riots in West London, in 1958. Today, Notting Hill is the trendy ‘inner-city’ area of London, made internationally famous by the film of the same name. But that term ‘inner-city’ requires more precision when we are discussing Notting Hill in 1958. More accurately, in the terms of the Chicago School, Notting Hill was a ‘zone of transition’ in 1958. It was a once-prosperous inner suburb, whose housing was for the most part built in the nineteenth century, and which had become subject to economic decline and urban decay.59 Notting Hill was contested, and violently, by working-class Londoners who lived there, as well as by those who did not. In common with Cicero, Notting Hill can be understood as a white reaction to black invasion. The sociologist Ruth Glass, who provided one of the fullest contemporary accounts of the ‘race riots’, emphasized that they were not confined to Notting Hill. ‘In fact’, she wrote: the disturbances fanned out from Shepherd’s Bush and adjacent Notting Dale to several pockets in Notting Hill, Kensal New Town, Paddington and Maida Vale. [The] main explosions took place beyond the fringes of relatively concentrated coloured settlement or even further away; and the worst offenders came from housing estates which were – and still are – almost wholly white.60

One of the worst mobs was comprised of teddy boys out ‘nigger hunting’ during the summer of 1958. They came from Shepherd’s Bush, which was further out from the centre of London than Notting Hill. And Kensal New Town was further north and west than Notting Hill. These were by no means the inter-war suburbs on the outskirts of London, but neither were they in the very heart of the capital. Glass blamed a minor recession at the time, and hence economic insecurity, for racial hostility toward ‘newcomers’. This was exacerbated by the housing shortage in the Shepherd’s Bush-Notting Dale district of London.61 A further point of interest from Notting Hill was in the newspaper references to American racial problems which, it was felt, were moving into England. Some pointed to racial disturbances at Little Rock, a name which had been shouted out by whites during the Notting Hill riots, along with such sentiments as ‘lynch them’. Writers in conservative newspapers, furthermore, took the opportunity of disorder to make a case for segregation, southern-style, in English towns. In the Daily Telegraph of 18 September 1958, a Member of the House of Lords wrote that he had found the ‘coloured folk’ of Savannah and elsewhere: far happier than in the great northern cities, living naturally in their own quarters, earning all the wages they needed . . . I found the coloured in the South the happiest community in America . . . experience shows that new towns and suburbs should be erected for the coloured in England.

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Black Suburbanization In 1958, however, segregation was occurring naturally, and in a different direction to that preferred by this Conservative aristocrat. For the new towns and suburbs were almost wholly white. Poorer housing areas were being evacuated by the better-off sections of the working classes. The 1965 government report on housing in London was explicit that as blacks moved into central areas of poor housing, many whites moved out.62 During the 1970s, whites who had moved to the suburbs, or even further afield to the seaside, said that the appearance of blacks, and in some instances Jews, hastened their decision to move on, because they blamed them for a perceived social deterioration in their previous place of residence.63 A 1960s study of Birmingham in the English Midlands demonstrated that many whites held ‘coloureds’ responsible for the decline of Sparkbrook, near the centre of Birmingham. Such perceptions, as with Notting Hill, were exacerbated by the housing shortage. The influx of immigrants into Sparkbrook, a ‘twilight zone’, became a stimulus for more affluent white households to move away. Sparkbrook was thus a ‘zone of transition’ by the mid-1960s as whites wanting better housing and convinced of racial stereotypes moved out, while immigrants moved in.64 This process of white dispersal and minority concentration was a general metropolitan phenomenon, observed for other large English towns and cities.65 Housing divisions were exacerbated by the refusal of suburban homeowners to sell their homes to aspiring blacks. This was manifest in ways both petty and serious. For example, a couple in Manchester delayed their plans to emigrate rather than make a quick sale to a black householder.66 Others, in the Midlands town of Leamington Spa, for example, complained to the council about ‘overcrowding’, complaints which, on investigation by council Health officers, were not upheld.67 More bizarrely, one woman in Nottingham said she made a point of selling to a West Indian man in order ‘to spite the neighbours’.68 A local newspaper columnist, writing in South London in 1956, revealed both English liberalism and class consciousness about incoming black suburbanites. The fear of the working class, it is clear, was allied to racial discrimination. ‘So long as the coloured folk keep to spots like Somerleyton Road’, he wrote, ‘there is no trouble’: It is when they reach the middle-class suburbs that there is talk of lowering the tone of the road. That is also economic, not social, friction, I think. People who are buying their own house are very sensitive to anything that lowers the value. A ‘common’ family is equally detested. As it happens some coloured folk have arrived in my own suburban road. There has been no trouble, so far. But there would be, of course, if it was found to lower the value of the property. A neighbour who has met one of the coloured men says he is a ‘perfect gentleman’. The others also seem to me to be very civilised – which is more than I can say for some of the white neighbours, unfortunately.69

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Suburban Century As in the United States, economic insecurity and racial prejudice were powerful bedfellows, especially where white housing areas bordered black areas. As these examples indicate, however, during the 1950s and 1960s a small but tangible process of black suburbanization was under way, despite the difficulties. Led largely by pioneering households, migration to the suburbs grew more widespread during the 1970s, and since. The next two sections demonstrate how, with qualifications, black suburbanization grew apace, and militated against the potentially dangerous scenarios of black and white urban polarization feared by the Kerner and Cullingworth reports.

From Pioneers to Suburbanites: African Americans In both northern and southern cities, African Americans aspired to housing that was as good as that enjoyed by whites. A 1941 study of Detroit found that many higherstatus blacks wanted to live in residential areas that reflected their economic position and their sense of the ‘well to do among us’.70 In Birmingham, Alabama during the 1950s ownership of a valuable and comfortable home with a fully equipped kitchen, clean bathrooms, three or four bedrooms, gardens, perhaps a veranda, and a garage for the car or cars was much sought after.71 And in his 1962 introduction to the republished social survey, The Black Metropolis, the sociologist Everett C. Hughes drew attention to the African Americans in Chicago who were looking for improved housing in more middle-class areas of the city. ‘Some years ago’, he wrote, ‘I cycled off westward toward State Street, Chicago, on one of the streets [south] of the Black Belt’: It was a peaceful middle-class area of one-storey brick bungalows and two-flat buildings, probably built for second or third generation Irish, Czech or Poles. Men were washing their cars, mowing the lawn, or painting the back porch on that Saturday morning. Women were coming to and from the shops, or could be seen dusting in the front room. All at once, I saw that one industrious householder had a dark complexion. Then I saw that all were brown or black. It ran counter to all stereotypes; either their faces should have been white or the district should have had a different aspect. Chicago’s Negro slums have grown, but so have her Negro middle classes and the districts where they live. The forces which move people toward the middle-class American ethos are tremendous among Negroes of American descent.72

Movement beyond the black belt into suburban housing was not opposed by all whites. For example, a study of ‘successful racial invasion’ in Levittown, Pennsylvania published in 1960 discussed the case of a 34-year-old black veteran of the Second World War. A refrigeration engineer, he purchased a three-bedroom house for himself and his family. In defiance of the threatening behaviour of some of his – 92 –

Black Suburbanization ‘neighbours’, and with the support of various local associations, including a Citizen’s Committee of Levittown, the family persevered and settled down in Levittown.73 Other factors helped to engender black suburbanization. One, by no means a positive development, was the spilling-over of expanding and overcrowded ghetto areas into adjacent inner suburbs. For example, in Washington DC, Takoma Park and Hillcrest Heights both bordered largely black inner-city areas, and during the 1960s ghetto expansion led to white flight. Such developments failed to blunt the edges of ethnic spatial segregation.74 The increasing numbers of blacks in suburban areas also stemmed from housing policies. One strand of policy was that of enforced dispersal, or the placement of public-housing projects in selected sites in the suburban rings. This had occurred in only a few cases prior to the 1960s. Yet the suburban relocation of poor African Americans was viewed by housing reformers as a positive way of breaking down ethnic segregation in the suburbs, and the Housing Acts of the 1960s further stimulated the movement of public housing to the suburbs. The 1961 Housing Act decentralized public housing, perhaps in an attempt to break down concentration.75 As in England, such strategies were often spoiled by their consequences. For example, white resistance, and zoning policies validated by the state courts, saw to it that many public-housing developments were kept away from white housing areas.76 In Chicago, for example, the city began a programme of slum clearance and dispersal during the 1950s and 1960s which did little to break down the ethnic segregation of the city.77 Moreover, public housing remained as only a tiny proportion of American post-war housing stock anyway. The general result was a minimal penetration of the suburbs by African Americans via public-housing projects during the post-war years.78 Some black commentators on the fair-housing legislation of the late 1960s were more enamoured of the effects of legislation on black opportunities to open up the suburbs. Speaking during the 1990s, Hilary Shelton of the NAACP felt that the Civil Rights movement and its legacy did enable many more blacks to follow the suburban path. As Shelton also argued, however, it was the ‘economic ability’ of blacks which was the key to understanding their push for suburbia.79 Ultimately, therefore, neither enforced dispersal nor fair-housing legislation were the main contributors to black suburbanization. Rather, it was the consequence of a voluntary entry of the numbers of African Americans in the newer and wealthier subdivisions of American towns and cities. As the black middle class grew in size and in wealth, many began to exercise their choice of a nicer, newer, safer and more comfortable home in the suburbs than they had been used to in the poorer housing areas. A much-discussed example is that of Prince George’s County, in Maryland, which is today in large part a black suburb of the American capital. In the wider metropolitan area of Washington DC, which includes Maryland and – 93 –

Suburban Century northern Virginia, the black population increased from a minority to a majority position during the post-war years.80 The growth of the black suburban middle class, observed in 1962 by Everett C. Hughes, continued throughout the 1960s, and since.81 As Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom have observed, by 1960, in fact, nearly 3 million African Americans lived in the suburbs, over 15 per cent of the black population. The number of American blacks in suburbs was 3.6 millions by 1970, or 16 per cent of blacks.82 By 1995, however, it had risen to over 10.5 millions. A third of the African American population was suburban.83 This is not to say that black housing problems were disappearing for ever. The Thernstroms observed that some of the highest levels of poverty were to be found among woman-headed black working-class households. Holding down a job, sometimes two jobs, meeting educational needs, and paying rent for often inadequate housing prevented many black single-income households from achieving what two-income households had achieved.84 The same was true for white womanheaded households, because they also had higher poverty levels than two-income homes.85 Nonetheless, the Thernstroms argue that racial discrimination has been breaking down in American cities since 1970 as a consequence of the mass movement of middle-class African Americans into suburban housing areas. They are not alone. A number of other writers have noted the remarkable ascendancy of black affluence and suburbanization as a consequence of economic ability. During the 1980s, for example, in cities both north and south of the Mason-Dixon line, and in both sunbelt and rustbelt urban areas, there were sizeable ‘booming’ populations of suburban African Americans.86 As Joel Garreau remarked, moreover, this boom was not simply a consequence of the migration out of the ghetto to the suburb of those blacks who could finally afford it. The African Americans who were fuelling Atlanta’s edge-city growth during the 1980s also moved in from outside the region. It was symptomatic of the locational choice and mobility available to many middle-class blacks.87 The reasons why so many middle-class blacks chose suburbia and edge cities were clearly stated by one woman, who told Garreau that she and her husband ‘had always lived in what you call Edge Cities’: You probably want to know why. We felt the need from the very beginning to live away from the inner-city. We wanted to move away from everything the inner-city has. We wanted our kids to have the very best, and the best was outside of any major city. Safety. Amenity. The best shopping centers. A house with an acre or more.88

And she also emphasized the feeling of freedom from crime, and the better schools. Garreau saw this woman’s rise from the poverty of small-town rural Kentucky to middle-class status, and to the delights of a nice new home on the edge of Atlanta,

– 94 –

Black Suburbanization as a classic portrayal of ‘many of the striking changes that have swept through America in the last twenty five years’.89 Such changes were particularly in evidence at Columbia, Maryland, founded by the enlightened property developer James L. Rouse, and Reston, Virginia, whose founder, Robert E. Simon, may also be categorized as an enlightened property developer. These two privately-funded and planned new towns of the 1960s were built within commuting distance of the nation’s capital. A sizeable and comfortably-off African-American middle class emerged in these two suburban towns partly in consequence of the commitment of those towns to integrated housing and racial balance, and partly as a consequence of a wider embourgeoisement of blacks. Nicholas Dagen Bloom’s book Suburban Alchemy illustrates that the aspiration to move to new and comfortable housing, to possess a garden, and to enjoy a green, safe and well-equipped environment was central to the values of African Americans in Columbia and Reston.90 Such changes were also personified by Colin Powell, born in Harlem in New York in 1937. His career took him up the ranks to become the US Army’s Chief of Staff during the 1990s. He was appointed the first black Secretary of State in 2001. By then, he was living in a posh suburb of Washington DC, in northern Virginia.91 As noted previously, however, the black suburban aspiration was not a solely middle-class one. At Columbia and Reston, low-income African Americans found homes in the affordable housing that the towns’ founders had committed to.92 In the poorest housing areas, both inner-city and suburban, an aspiration for a better home in the suburbs was evident in the attempts by black tenants to access the suburbs. This was most famously evident in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, where the redoubtable campaigner Ethel Lawrence fought to establish affordable garden apartments from the mid-1970s until the 1990s. The story has been told in two important books,93 so it is unnecessary to go into further detail here. But Mount Laurel revealed a strong determination to establish suburban living for lowerincome blacks in the face of a strongly articulated view that Mount Laurel was too good for African Americans. In this, Ethel Lawrence had the support of liberal leaders of the judiciary who upheld the constitutional right for everyone, regardless of colour, to be able to live in the suburbs. Mount Laurel is significant, too, for the specific difficulties that African Americans faced when compared to those of African-Caribbean and other black groups in England. As Ann Durkin Keating has shown for nineteenth-century Chicago, suburban developers and wealthy middle-class inhabitants often banded together to annex and thus incorporate their suburb into a politically and administratively distinct part of the metropolitan area. They could then pass legislation to promote or improve services and also pass zoning legislation in order to protect their suburb from urban encroachment. More significantly, independent government enabled measures to protect property prices and the social composition of the suburb: – 95 –

Suburban Century certain forms of housing, for example low-income housing, could be precluded. Acts of incorporation continued into the twentieth century, in many American cities. As Keating argues, homogenous incorporated suburban subdivisions are one means ‘by which metropolitan residents are segregated on the basis of class, ethnicity and race’.94 Incorporation thus militated against black suburbanization, despite civil-rights legislation. Property prices excluded – and still exclude – blacks from some English suburbs, but there is no apparatus of incorporation and exclusion such as exists in the United States. In the face of these institutionalized barriers, Mount Laurel established a black presence in a predominantly white suburban town. The case threw into relief the fact that some working-class blacks chose to live in white suburbs for the environmental amenities and accommodation that existed there. As a number of studies show, many poor and affluent African Americans also lived in mixed suburbs, while others opted to move to suburbs that had become almost wholly black. To be sure, segregated and impoverished housing areas and their social and economic problems still existed at the end of the twentieth century.95 Yet the suburbs played a larger role in the lives of African Americans than ever before.96 A complex pattern of desegregation, of ethnic mixing and of voluntary re-segregation, but within more comfortable circumstances than those of the ghetto, had occurred over the decades since the war.

From Pioneers to Suburbanites: Blacks in England The movement of pioneer blacks to the outer suburban estates, as opposed to those living in inner suburbs, evidenced both similarities and differences to those in the United States who moved to Levittowns and the newer subdivisions. Suburban migration was often pioneered by middle-class blacks, whose status consciousness and higher income made a suburban home an attractive prospect. In the East London docklands during the 1950s, where a diverse community of British-born people of African origin lived, the sociologist Sydney Collins emphasized that many younger female and male ‘Anglo-coloureds’ rejected manual work for occupations within the educational, commercial, sporting and nursing professions. Collins also pointed to the hostility or derision which becoming a clerk, and moving to the suburbs, could produce from both poorer whites and blacks in the areas from whence they came. A female shop worker, who had moved to a middleclass suburb, and a young man who moved to a white suburb on the remarriage of his mother, felt little in common with their former contacts.97 There was, therefore, a class and status element cutting through the black spatial placement. First, there were those who moved to England and stayed largely where

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Black Suburbanization they originally settled. Second, however, were those who, since the early 1950s, had moved from areas of initial settlement to a home within a few miles’ radius of the centre. They were from a slightly higher socio-economic category than those they had left behind. However, it was a third group, made up of professional and white-collar workers, and the older, more highly paid skilled workers, who moved with their families to the predominantly white areas, and that meant the new interwar and post-war cottage estates.98 And they were proud of their achievement, and wanted to mark it. A 1950s study of West Indians in London noted how departed Brixtonians began to verbally dissociate themselves from their former home.99 Just as middle-class blacks left the urban cores of the American capital city for outlying suburbs such as Prince George’s County, so many of London’s ‘black petit bourgeois’ quit the poorer parts of England’s capital for such destinations as Croydon and South Norwood. Suburban migration was thus closely related to ‘secondary settlement’ as people left their original places of settlement to move to the suburbs. And for many, the pursuit of owner-occupation was intrinsic to secondary migration to suburbia. A study of the suburban borough of Croydon in South London, for example, showed that many West Indian homeowners had moved there from all across England, from towns such as Aylesbury, Birmingham, Derby, Dudley, Newcastle, Nottingham and Reading. Clearly, black suburbs were developing, as many African Caribbeans preferred to live in better housing with people of the same colour.100 The Croydon study gave as a fairly ‘typical’ case that of a tailor from Jamaica who moved to England alone, at first, before his wife joined him, followed by their children: That was the reason we decided to get a house. We chose Croydon because it was quiet and we thought it would be better for the children. The main difficulty was the price of houses.101

Another man, a French polisher who had originally moved in 1954 from Jamaica to Kilburn in North London, had at first lived in ‘half a room’ before he got married. Following that, he lived in a flat with his wife. They later moved to Croydon ‘for ‘somewhere quiet’ and for a new house: ‘We weren’t afraid of the challenge of being individuals in a predominantly white community as against living in Brixton or North London.’102 Nor were some immigrants from the Caribbean afraid of moving into the upper echelons of London suburbia. England’s first Jamaican-born and hugely successful property magnate, Jo Whitter, came to England in 1954. He moved from the East End of London to South London suburbia in the course of a generation: ‘And my third home that I live in was in Bromley, a fabulous house, you know. It’s like a twenty-bedroomed place overlooking the Sanctuary Golf Course.’103 – 97 –

Suburban Century Studies of what the 1991 census revealed about the ‘current suburbanization experience of the Black Caribbean’104 have shown that their suburban dispersal gathered considerable pace during the final quarter of the twentieth century. Most African-Caribbean immigration to England was over by the this time, a consequence of the restrictive 1971 Immigration Act. Continuing internal migration, however, was an expression of the aspirations of increasingly affluent and upwardly mobile working-class blacks, and of middle-class black households. The ‘second generation’, the children of the first settlers, have clearly demonstrated ‘parallels with the migration pattern of young whites’ by eventually moving out to the suburbs.105 As in the United States, anti-discrimination legislation may also have made some difference to the extent of black suburbanization, although this is difficult to quantify. The 1976 Race Relations Act, notably, made direct and indirect discrimination unlawful in a great many circumstances, including the sale of housing.106 There was still evidence of steering and other forms of discrimination in housing-market allocations during the 1990s, however.107 Despite these important changes and issues, studies of ethnicity continue to ‘under-sample suburban blacks’ or to ignore their presence.108 That amounts to a large hole in our historical understanding of the evolution of multi-ethnic English society, for three related reasons. First, we still live in a country which too readily associates the term ‘inner-city’ with immigrant or black areas. That received impression ignores the complexity and dispersal in black settlement patterns beyond the inner-city. Second, the phenomenon of suburban dispersal as a counteractive force to concentration and its consequences deserves to be acknowledged. Third, suburbanization, and the rise of black affluence and of the black middle class, requires further research and analysis. For despite the gains, blacks in England – as in the United States – are still under-represented, in terms of their numbers, in middle-class occupations, in higher income brackets, and in the very best suburban housing.109 There is no ghetto in England, but housing inequalities still exist.

Conclusion Writing in 1964, a sociologist of race and housing, in a ‘comparative note’ about England and the United States, concluded that while problems of ethnic concentration in English cities were occurring, the dispersal and suburbanization of ethnic minorities of colour was offsetting the scale of the problem in England when compared to that in the United States.110 He was to be proved right. Moreover, had he been more fully briefed of the trend towards suburbia of African Americans, he might have added that the problem of ethnic concentration in ghetto housing in the United States would also show some signs of abating. – 98 –

Black Suburbanization The key reason for this abatement, black suburbanization, thus deserves to be fully acknowledged as a major contributory factor toward the stabilization of American and English societies in the late twentieth century. And this was not solely the preserve of middle-class blacks: many blue-collar blacks actively sought and achieved a house in the suburbs, and in the United States they had been doing so since before the Second World War. The housing in many poorer black suburbs was not of course as good as it was in middle-class areas, but crucially it enabled people to realize some key elements of their suburban aspiration. We have also seen that, in both the US and England, voluntary clustering of blacks in suburbs occurred. This was to some extent a consequence of greater choice, born of increased affluence. It was also a protective response to racism. As noted, American historiography has been increasingly aware of the significance of black suburbanization; in England, however, there is a lag in understanding. And that is partly due to the still pervasive belief that black people are largely concentrated in areas such as Brixton in South London. Whenever television producers wish to convey the experience of blacks in Britain, it seems, they head for Brixton. Historians are not much more adventurous. The last word in this chapter on black suburbanization may be left to Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Writing about the United States in 1974, his observations remain closely relevant to England today: Acquiring one wife and three kids, two cars and a house in the suburbs can, if one wishes, be defined as a disaster. The media are sensitized to this view, and hence have made much less of black success in these ‘straight’ terms than they might otherwise have done.111

Notes 1. National Archives/Record Group 207/General Records of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Urban Renewal Administration (URA)/General Subject Files, 1948–60: Racial Relations: Reginald A. Johnson, Director of Field Services and Housing Co-ordinator, National Urban League, New York, ‘Housing and redevelopment: dangers and possibilities: the viewpoint of minority groups’, paper presented before the National Housing Conference, New York, 3 April 1950. 2. Rosalyn Baxandall and Elizabeth Ewen, Picture Windows: How the Suburbs Happened (New York, 2000). Andrew Wiese, ‘Places of our own: suburban black towns before 1960’, Journal of Urban History, 19/3, 1993, pp. 30–54; – 99 –

Suburban Century

3. 4. 5. 6.

7. 8. 9.

10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

Andrew Wiese, ‘The other suburbanites: African American suburbanization in the North before 1950’, Journal of American History, 85/4, 1999, pp. 1495– 1524. J. John Palen, The Suburbs (New York, 1995), p. 116. Trevor R. Lee, Race and Residence: The Concentration and Dispersal of Immigrants in London (Oxford, 1977), p. 1. Central Office of Information, Ethnic Minorities (London, 1997), p. 8. Tony Lane, Liverpool: Gateway of Empire (London, 1987), pp. 117–19; Edward Royle, Modern Britain: A Social History, 1750–1985 (London, 1991), pp. 75–7. Elizabeth Burney, Housing on Trial: A Study of Immigrants and Local Government (London, 1967), p. 6–7. Lee, Race and Residence, p. 32. Reynolds Farley, ‘The urbanization of Negroes in the United States’, Journal of Social History, 1/3, 1968, pp. 254–6; Kenneth L. Kusmer, ‘The great migration and the consolidation of the ghetto’, Open University, A317, Themes in British and American History; A Comparative Approach, 1760– 1970; Focus Point 6 Offprints (Milton Keynes, 1985), pp. 65–8. P.F. Cressey, ‘Population succession in Chicago, 1898–1930’, American Journal of Sociology, XLIV/1, 1938, pp. 65–8. Ibid., pp. 61, 68–9. Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York, 1987), p. 18. Harlan P. Douglass, The Suburban Trend (New York, 1925), pp. 97–8. Karl E. Taueber and Alma F. Taueber, Negroes in Cities: Residential Segregation and Neighbourhood Change (Chicago, 1965), p. 164. Wiese, ‘Places of our own’, pp. 30–54; Wiese, ‘The other suburbanites’, pp. 1495–1524. Taueber and Taueber, Negroes in Cities, pp. 161–4. Baxandall and Ewen, Picture Windows, p. 57; Jackson, Crabgrass, pp. 197– 218. Reynolds Farley et al., ‘“Chocolate city, vanilla suburbs”: will the trend towards racially separate communities continue?’, Social Science Research, 7, 1978, pp. 319–38; Reynolds Farley et al., ‘Stereotypes and segregation: neighbourhoods in the Detroit area’, American Journal of Sociology, 100/3, 1994, p. 750; John. F. Kain, ‘Housing market discrimination and black suburbanization in the 1980s’, in Gary A. Tobin (ed.), Divided Neighbourhoods: Changing Patterns of Residential Segregation (Beverly Hills, 1987), p. 83; John F. Kain, ‘Housing segregation, negro employment and metropolitan decentralisation’, in James W. Hughes (ed.), Suburbanization Dynamics and the Future of the City (New Brunswick, NJ, 1974), pp. 172–3. – 100 –

Black Suburbanization 19. Louis H. Pink, The New Day in Housing (New York, 1928). 20. Rexford G. Tugwell, The Fourth Power (Cambridge, MA, 1939). 21. Norman F. Cantor and Mindy Cantor, The American Century (New York, 1997), p. 265. 22. Lansill/UKLib/SCA/65M19: Miscellaneous: Resettlement Administration, Project Description Book (Washington DC, not dated). 23. Garden Cities Company, Fifty Years of Housing, 1922–1972: The Story of Garden Cities (Pinelands, C.P.: South Africa, 1972). 24. Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, Vol. 1 (New York, 1944), p. 349. 25. Howard P. Chudacoff (ed.), Major Problems in American Urban History (Lexington, MA, 1994), pp. 351–9. 26. Charles Abrams, ‘The segregation threat in housing: can we plan for democratic neighbourhoods?’, Commentary, 7/2, 1949, p. 127. 27. See, for example, Reynolds Farley and W.H. Frey, ‘Changes in the segregation of whites from blacks during the 1980s: small steps toward a more integrated society’, American Sociological Review, 59/1, 1994, pp. 25–6; J.R. Feagin, ‘Housing segregation, Negro employment, and metropolitan decentralisation’, in James A. Hughes (ed.) Suburbanization Dynamics, pp. 172–3; George Grier and Eunice Grier, ‘Obstacles to desegregation in America’s urban areas’, Race, 6/1, 1964, pp. 8–9. 28. NA/RG 207/General Records of the Department of Housing and Urban Renewal; Urban Renewal Administration (URA)/General Subject Files, 1949– 60: Racial Relations, ‘Memo between Keith and Nesbitt, ‘Racial zoning in Title 1 localities’, 9 July, 1951. 29. Ibid. 30. Michael Schaller et al., Present Tense: The United States since 1945 (Boston, MA, 1996), p. 226. 31. Judith D. Feins and Rachel G. Bratt, ‘Barred in Boston: racial discrimination in housing’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 49/3, 1983, p. 347; Farley et al, ‘Stereotypes and segregation’, p. 740. 32. Daniel P. Moynihan, with Erskine Childers and Robert McKenzie, ‘Talking of things to come’, The Listener, 24 February 1966, p. 263. 33. David L. Kirp, John P. Dwyer and Larry A. Rosenthal, Our Town: Race, Housing and the Soul of Suburbia (New Brunswick, NJ, 1995), p. 5. 34. Dennis R. Judd, The Politics of American Cities: Private Power and Public Policy (New York, 1988), p.188. 35. Sir Milner Holland, Report of the Committee on Housing in Greater London (London: HMSO, 1965; Cmd 2605), pp. 20–1; 251–2; 278. 36. Diane Frost, ‘Racism and social segregation: settlement patterns of West African seamen in Liverpool since the nineteenth century’, New Community, 22/1, 1996, p. 92. – 101 –

Suburban Century 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54.

55.

56. 57. 58.

Lee, Race and Residence, p. 145. Burney, Housing, p. 39. Ibid., pp. 246–7. Peter Williams, ‘Building societies and the inner-city’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (New Series), 3/1, 1978, pp. 23–30. Burney, Housing, p. 7. Hazel Flett, ‘Dispersal policies in council housing: arguments and evidence’, New Community, 7/2, 1979, p. 184. Central Housing Advisory Committee, Council Housing: Purposes, Practices and Procedures (London, 1969), p. 131. Ibid. Ibid., p. 133. Ibid., p. 135. Flett, ‘Dispersal policies’, p. 190. Jeff Henderson and Valerie Karn, ‘Race, class and the allocation of public housing in Britain’, Urban Studies, 21, 1984, p. 115. Ceri Peach and Margaret Byron, ‘Caribbean tenants in council housing: “race”, class and gender’, New Community, 19/3, 1993, pp. 407–22. Michael Banton, The Coloured Quarter: Negro Immigrants in an English City (London, 1955), p. 95. Lee, Race and Residence, p. 144. Willam H. Frey, ‘Central city, white flight: racial and non-racial causes’, American Sociological Review, 44/3, 1979, p. 425. Schaller et al., Present Tense, p. 122. NA/RG207/General Records HUD; URA/General Subject Files, 1949–60; Racial Relations: Speech of Clarence Mitchell, Director of the Washington Bureau, NAACP before the Richmond Civic Council, Moore Street Church Centre, 6 December 1951. This account is based upon the following: NA/RG207/General Records HUD; URA/General Subject Files, 1949–60: Racial Relations, Memo between Keith and Horne, ‘Implications of “Cicero” for Title 1 and Title 3 programmes in Chicago’, 27 July 1951; memo between Keith and Nesbitt, ‘Anti-Negro housing violence in Chicago, Illinois’, 30 July 1951; letter from Walter White, Executive Secretary, NAACP, to Foley, 2 August 1951; memos between Keith and Nesbitt, ‘Racial relations activities: the Cicero affair and its aftermath’, 10 October 1951, and ‘Racial relations activities: housing-based racial tensions in Chicago’, 8 November 1951. Herbert J. Gans, The Levittowners: Ways of Life and Politics in a New Suburban Community (London, 1967), p. 383. Ibid., pp. 371–3. St Clair Drake, ‘The “colour problem” in England: a study in social definitions’, Sociological Review (New Series), 3/2, 1955, pp. 198–207; Ruth – 102 –

Black Suburbanization

59.

60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69.

70. 71. 72.

73. 74.

75.

76. 77. 78. 79.

Glass, Newcomers: A Study of the West Indians in London (London, 1960), pp. 127–8. Trevor R. Lee, ‘Immigrants in London: trends in distribution and concentration, 1961–71’, New Community, 2/2, 1973, p. 145; Rosemary Mellor, ‘Structure and process in the twilight areas’, Town Planning Review, 44/1, 1973, pp. 54–65. Glass, Newcomers, p.133. Ibid., pp. 134, 146. Holland, Housing in Greater London, p. 252. Valerie Karn, Retiring to the Seaside (London, 1977), p. 47. John Rex and Robert Moore, Race, Community and Conflict: A Study of Sparkbrook (London, 1976), pp. 81–3; 274–83. Flett, ‘Dispersal policies’, pp. 186–7; Mellor, ‘Structure and process’, p. 56. Burney, Housing, p. 42. Anon, ‘Mortgage loans to coloured people’, The Times, 6 September 1958. Burney, Housing, p. 42. Sheila Patterson, Dark Strangers: A Sociological Study of the Absorption of a Recent West Indian Migrant Group in Brixton, South London (London, 1963), p. 192. Harold A. Gibbard, ‘The status factor in residential successions’, American Journal of Sociology, XLVI/6, 1941, p. 838. On Birmingham, Alabama, see John W. Saucier, ‘Reactions of Negro buyers’, The Residential Appraiser, 23, No. 5, 1957, pp. 3–5. Everett C. Hughes, ‘Introduction to the 1962 edition’, in St Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (Chicago,1993), p. xxxix. Marvin Bressler, ‘The Myers’ case: an instance of successful racial invasion’, Social Problems, 8/2, 1960, pp. 126–42. Harold X. Connolly, ‘Black movement into the suburbs: suburbs doubling their black populations during the 1960s’, Urban Affairs Quarterly, 9/1, 1973, p. 97. Adam Bickford and Douglas S. Massey, ‘Segregation in the second ghetto: racial and ethnic segregation in American public housing, 1977’, Social Forces, 69/1, 1991, p. 1014; Reynolds Farley, ‘The changing distribution of Negroes within metropolitan areas: the emergence of black suburbs’, American Journal of Sociology, 75/1, 1970, p. 525. Charles M. Haar, Suburbs Under Siege: Race, Space and Audacious Judges (Princeton, NJ, 1996), pp. 16–17. Wolf Von Eckardt, ‘Black neck in the white noose’, The New Republic, 19 October 1963, pp. 14–15. Bickford and Massey, ‘Segregation in the second ghetto’, pp. 1101–2. Edward Helmore, ‘The other American dream’, High Life, August 1998 p. 32. – 103 –

Suburban Century 80. Robert D. Manning, ‘Multicultural Washington, DC: the changing social and economic landscape of a post-industrial metropolis’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21/2, 1998, pp. 340–1; Palen, The Suburbs, p. 138. 81. Connolly, ‘Black movement’, pp. 91–109. 82. Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible (New York, 1997), p. 211. 83. Ibid., pp. 211, 217. 84. Ibid., pp. 237–45. 85. Daniel P. Moynihan, ‘The schism in black America’, in James W. Hughes (ed.), Suburbanization Dynamics and the Future of the City (New Brunswick, NJ, 1974), p. 132. 86. Helmore, ‘The other American dream’, pp. 30–3; William P. O’Hare and William H. Frey, ‘Booming, suburban and black’, American Demographics, September 1992, pp. 30–38; Palen, The Suburbs, pp. 132–41. 87. Joel Garreau, Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (New York, 1992), pp. 154–8. 88. Ibid., p. 157. 89. Ibid., pp. 157–8. 90. Nicholas Dagen Bloom, Suburban Alchemy: 1960s New Towns and the Suburban Dream (Columbus, 2001), pp. 184–205. 91. Colin L. Powell, with Joseph E. Persico, My American Journey (New York, 1995). 92. Bloom, Suburban Alchemy, pp. 190, 202. 93. Haar, Suburbs Under Siege; Kirp et al., Our Town. 94. Ann Durkin Keating, Building Chicago: Suburban Developers and the Creation of a Divided Metropolis (Urbana, 2002), p. 126. 95. Douglas S. Massey et al., ‘The effect of residential segregation on black social and economic well-being’, Social Forces, 66/1, 1987, pp. 29–56. 96. W.A.V. Clark, ‘Residential segregation in American cities: a review and interpretation’, Population Research and Policy Review, 5/2, 1986, pp. 95– 123; W.A.V. Clark, ‘Understanding residential segregation in American cities: interpreting the evidence’, Population Research and Policy Review, 7/2, 1988, pp. 113–20; Thernstrom and Thernstrom, America, pp. 214–20. 97. Sydney Collins, ‘The British-born coloured’, Sociological Review (New Series), 3/1, 1955, pp. 77; 86–9. 98. Lee, Race and Residence, p. 111; Patterson, Dark Strangers, pp. 259–60. 99. Patterson, Dark Strangers, p. 260. 100. Iva Wallis Mildom, ‘West Indian home-owners in Croydon’, New Community, 6/1 and 2, 1977–78, pp. 94–6. 101. Ibid., p. 96. 102. Ibid., p. 97. – 104 –

Black Suburbanization 103. Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips, Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of MultiRacial Britain (London, 1998), p. 142. 104. Patricia O. Daley, ‘Black Africans in Great Britain: spatial concentration and segregation’, Urban Studies, 35/10, 1998, p. 1703. 105. Vaughan Robinson, ‘Inter-generational differences in ethnic settlement patterns in Britain’, in Peter Radcliffe (ed.), Ethnicity in the 1991 Census; Vol. 3: Social Geography and Ethnicity in Britain; Geographical Spread, Spatial Concentration and Internal Migration (London, 1997), p. 193; Ceri Peach, ‘South Asian and Caribbean ethnic minority housing choice in Britain’, Urban Studies, 35/10, 1998, p. 1667. 106. Central Office of Information, Ethnic Minorities, p. 20. 107. Deborah Phillips, ‘Black minority ethnic concentration, segregation and dispersal in Britain’, Urban Studies, 35/10, 1998, p. 1696. 108. Vaughan Robinson, ‘Roots to mobility: the social mobility of Britain’s black population, 1971–87’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 13/2, 1990, p. 276. 109. Peter Radcliffe, ‘“Race, ethnicity and housing differentials in Britain’, in Valerie Karn (ed.), Ethnicity in the 1991 Census; Vol. 4: Employment, Education and Housing among the Ethnic Populations of Britain (London, 1997), pp. 130–1, 134–5. 110. Nicholas Deakin, ‘Residential segregation in Britain: a comparative note’, Race, 6/1, 1964, pp. 18–26. 111. Moynihan, ‘The schism in black America’, p. 138.

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Jewish and Asian Suburbanization

–5 – Jewish and Asian Suburbanization The rise of Jewish suburbia, and the suburbanization of Asians, both occurred on a considerable scale in England and the United States during the post-war period. This chapter is thus in two broad halves, and its argument is quite clear: the suburbanization of Jews and Asians, despite the obvious religious and cultural differences between these two broad sets of groups, has been part and parcel of their adaptation into American and English society while enabling negotiations of cultural differences and a measure of independence from the ‘mainstream’. Suburbanization was coterminous with Jewish and Asian upward occupational mobility, and economic advancement, and hence with the rise of the Jewish and Asian middle classes.

The Rise of Jewish Suburbia The suburban evolution of Jews in England and the United States was fundamental to their secondary settlement following, sooner or later, original immigration and settlement. In the first instance, poor immigrant groups, arriving and settling in low-rent housing areas, formed ethnically distinctive areas which were kept segregated by low incomes, by cultural values and practices and by external pressures including discrimination. In the second phase, many members of the group moved away, to better housing districts. Their subsequent internal migration can be interpreted as a process of residential succession. Suburbanization was the main context of this residential succession, and of the assimilation of Jews into mainstream middle-class life in both countries.

The Suburbanization of the Jews in England By 1990, the total Jewish population in Britain had probably exceeded 111,000.1 This Jewish population was for the most part a longer-term evolution from the migration dating from a hundred years earlier, during the 1880s. Most had settled in England. Jewish migrants, hailing from a number of eastern and central European countries, were escaping from poverty and oppression, and they settled into distinctive Jewish areas in the largest towns and cities. They were not the first, – 107 –

Suburban Century however. For, as the examples of Manchester in Lancashire, and of London demonstrate, there were already Jewish communities by the mid-Victorian period. In Manchester, wealthy Jews had begun to suburbanize along with other members of the South Lancashire bourgeoisie, and the Cheetham Hill district of the city had become a distinctive Jewish inner-suburban community by 1914.2 Furthermore, many Jews, whose livelihood was based on the local textile workshops, lived in other parts of Manchester.3 In London, a Jewish population existed long before the mass influx of the later nineteenth century. As this book has hoped to demonstrate, social investigation is an extremely useful source of primary material for social historians of suburbanization, and we are extremely fortunate that Charles Booth’s great survey of The Life and Labour of the People of London has been made electronically accessible by historians at the Open University. Booth’s survey was begun in 1886, when London’s East End was beginning to be ethnically transformed by Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. But Jews were not confined only to east London. They were moving into the more salubrious suburbs of north-east and north-west London.4 This was not simply an English-Jewish phenomenon. In Belfast, for example, the Jews had begun to migrate to the suburbs of that city during the later Victorian years, a process which, both then and subsequently, was ‘an eloquent testimony of a corresponding rapid movement up the socio-economic ladder’.5 Hence the suburbanization of the Jews in England, as elsewhere in Britain, originated during the nineteenth century, and was well under way by 1914. Between the wars, this suburbanization continued to grow considerably, as many Englishborn, lower-middle-class Jews left the old housing for a new life in the suburbs. For London, one social historian of the East End has viewed migration from there to the inner suburbs of the north and north-west of the capital in terms of ‘freedom at last from the ghetto mentality and the restraining bonds of old Europe’.6 During the post-war period, the trend of Jewish suburban migration in the metropolis was further continued and consolidated. A study in 1950s London, carried out when there was still a sizeable number of Jews remaining in the East End, found that many of them hankered after a better home in such ‘middledistance’ suburbs as Golders Green, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Newbury Park, Southgate and Ilford.7 In these areas, they were far enough away from the East End to make a spatial statement of their social mobility, but close enough to maintain kinship and business connections with the old area. They were also part of a wider network of London’s northern Jewish suburbs. Such migration was ‘but an extension of the step-migration that for many started with the move from Whitechapel to Dalston.8 A strongly similar pattern of internal migration occurred in provincial cities. In Manchester, by 1914 those Jews who could afford it were on the move from Cheetham Hill. Between the wars, many Jews began to move to the new through– 108 –

Jewish and Asian Suburbanization lounge semi-detached houses of Crumpsall and Prestwich. This suburban migration continued after the war.9 In Leeds, outward migration from what the Jewish historian Ernest Krausz has termed ‘the ghetto’ of Leyland had begun before the First World War. Between the wars it moved northward and westward along the Chapeltown Road, Roundhay Road and Meanwood Road. Post-war suburban migration extended still further out to the suburbs of Alwoodly, Moortown, Harewood and Wigton. This out-migration increased, argued Krausz, as intolerance subsided, and as Jews became economically better equipped to move on. Escape from poor housing conditions and from more limited economic opportunities, and the pursuit of enhanced social status, were aspirations as Jewish as they were suburban. Hence, Jewish suburbanization was coterminous with a greater and wider involvement of Jews in the political, administrative and economic life of Leeds. Such involvement was no longer confined to Leyland.10 A similar process occurred in Scottish and Welsh cities with sizeable Jewish populations.11 This suburban migration changed the nature and location of Jewish communities, in two important ways. First, by 1970, while there were many small Jewish settlements dispersed around Britain, most Jews had settled into distinctive and sizeable suburban communities in Britain’s larger towns and cities. And of these cities, London was and remains the largest home of suburban Jews.12 Today, twothirds of all Jewish people in Britain live in London, and of those, two-thirds live in north London’s suburban boroughs. As Stanley Waterman and Barry Kosmin argued in 1986, from their ‘Cohen count’ in telephone directories and from their analysis of synagogue membership lists, there was still considerable concentration, based on a voluntary migration and settlement, of Jews in certain streets and districts within north London. As the authors pointed out, this localizing of group identity did in some respects militate against intermarriage between Jews and other groups.13 There was, moreover, heterogeneity in Jewish suburbs: the idea of a uniform Jewish suburb is as erroneous as that of a homogeneous suburbia per se. Hence Waterman and Kosmin found that male synagogue membership was more heavily associated with the United Synagogue and the Reform Synagogue in the northwestern outer-London borough of Edgware. But there was a greater variety of synagogue membership in the more salubrious inner suburbs such as Golders Green and Hampstead.14 Furthermore, despite a largely middle-class profile of Jewish suburbanites, both affluent skilled manual workers and a small number of unskilled workers had settled in areas of the north London borough of Barnet.15 In more pleasant housing and in lower-density surroundings than was possible in the inner-urban areas of original settlement, Jews had paralleled the residential migration of Gentiles, while many had maintained key values and practices of their culture. Hence, one writer in 1970 described these communities as ‘Jewburbia’. Synagogues, associations, shops and Jewish newspapers engendered a self-sufficient – 109 –

Suburban Century but by no means insular Jewish area or areas of town. The existence of Jewish suburbs also influenced the occupational choices of the upwardly mobile Jew who might have chosen to take a job in a town with a known Jewish suburb, rather than in one without. ‘Jewburbia’ was ‘portable’, identifiable and familiar even to the newcomer.16 As Ernest Krausz argued in 1968, in similar terms, Jews in the north London suburb of Edgware possessed ‘their own social, religious and ethniccultural patterns which distinguish them from non-Jews’ while ‘leading a modern life in an English suburb, a life that can be regarded as generally integrated into the wider society’.17 This suburban migration had consequences in a second important way, notably the demise of the original area of Jewish settlement. In Cheetham Hill or the East End of London, out-migration left behind those who were ‘too old or too settled to want to go’.18 Yet these areas also attracted those Jews who were appalled by suburban life. In recent post-war Jewish fiction, the nostalgic longing for the older community values has been expressed in vicious attacks on what has been perceived as the smugness and materialism of Jewish suburban life in comparison with life in the older areas. In a similar process to those readings of the British working class’s social evolution, which viewed the new estates as places where the proletarian core values of collectivism, self-help and community were declining, so Jewish outward migration has been castigated as weakening the components of Jewish identity. This literary anti-suburbanism manifests itself in ironic but controversial ways, for example in the invasion of a fictional Jewish suburbia by Nazi storm-troopers.19

The Suburbanization of American Jews This will be a longer section than the previous one because far more has been written on American Jews. This is in part because the Jewish population of the United States has been and remains both absolutely and relatively larger than in Britain. Jewish settlement in North America began in the seventeenth century, and Jews were part of the subsequent migrations from central Europe, throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Following 1815, with the ending of the Napoleonic Wars, Jews were among the many Germans who emigrated to the United States.20 Skilled and entrepreneurial German Jews, although small in number, established themselves within the American middle classes. For example, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jews were a small but significant part of that city’s business elite by 1900, and had begun to move to the suburbs of the Old York Road. This was in part due to their aspiration for higher status, and in part because the years since 1880 had witnessed the onset of the ‘new immigration’. As these

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Jewish and Asian Suburbanization relatively poor migrants, many of them Yiddish speakers from central Europe, moved into the poorer housing areas, wealthier Jews moved out. The established Jews were of a higher socio-economic status, and saw themselves as more urbane than the newly incoming Jews. Up to 1930, the wealthy Jews of Philadelphia consolidated their bourgeois suburbia around the Old York Road.21 By 1880, the Jewish population of the United States numbered 250,000. A further 3 million Jews emigrated to that country in the next forty years, until restrictions were imposed on immigration in the 1920s. These Jews, from central and eastern European countries, can be distinguished from ‘old’ immigrants, those British, Germans, Irish and Scandinavians who had long since settled in the United States.22 During the later nineteenth century, and up to the Second World War, the largest areas of new-immigrant Jewish settlement were in the ghettos of the northeast and east-coast cities. And it was from these ghettos that many of the newimmigrant Jews, notably those within the Czechoslovak-American population, soon headed for a better life in the suburbs. In Chicago, for example, many had left their original districts for the west-side suburbs, notably Berwyn and Cicero.23 The more entrepreneurial Jews were quicker off the mark in this respect than other ‘new-immigrant’ groups to the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century United States, for example the Italians.24 Chicago’s Jews were representative of the suburban trend of American Jewry, a point explicit in Cressey’s study of ethnic residential segregation. His model of residential succession emphasized the original diffusion of ‘pioneer’ Jews from poorer communities to better-off residential areas. They had worked hard, achieved economic success, and sought higher social status in a suburban address. Cressey, however, was well aware of Gentile hostility to this Jewish in-migration, and of the adaptive strategies of Jewish suburbanites: Immigrants frequently take advantage of entrance into a new area to change their names to more American forms, changes such as the following being not uncommon: Garskovitz to Groves; Smallovitz to Small; Abrahamson to Abrams; Weinstein to Weston.25

Some of these Jews were refugees from Europe of the 1930s, often wealthier professionals escaping from the virulent anti-Semitism of German Nazism. In the sociologist Oscar Handlin’s words, ‘only the well-to-do had resources to escape’.26 They also had the resources to leave the ghetto more quickly than some of those who had settled there between 1880 and 1930. A good example was the experience of Herbert J. Gans. As a boy he emigrated with his parents from Cologne in Germany to the United States, via England, in 1939. His mother was from a family of wealthy bankers in the Hanover area, and his father ran a small family business in Cologne, a cattle dealership. Once they arrived in Chicago, they settled into the predominantly Irish low-rent rooming area of Woodlawn. His father worked as a – 111 –

Suburban Century brush salesman, his mother as a domestic, but their downward mobility was perceived as only temporary. ‘The drive to regain bourgeois status began at once’, Gans has written, and his parents were soon in better-paid employment. Within a few years they moved into the transitional area of Southmoor, en route to the middle-class suburbs of Chicago’s South Shore.27 New York and its surrounding counties, however, developed as the home to about one-third of America’s Jews. As Lawrence J. Sussman, at the Department of History at Binghamton University New York, has argued, following the Second World War suburbanization was a major force reshaping the New York Jewish community. In 1940 fewer than 100,000 Jews lived in the New York suburbs, but by 1960 the combined Jewish population of the suburban counties of Westchester, Rockland and Nassau had increased to 735,000.28 Jewish suburbanization during the early post-war years was described in two major studies of Jewish suburbia. One, by Herbert J. Gans, was of Park Forest, Illinois, a suburban garden-city-style development, replete with shops and other amenities, and comprised largely of single-family homes for sale and of rental apartments. It was located about thirty miles from Chicago’s downtown loop. The Park Forest study was carried out in the late 1940s. A 1950s study of ‘Crestwood Heights’, a suburb of Toronto, Canada, became famous as a work of social anthropology, and has been much quoted since. In Park Forest, Jewish households numbered 150 out of 1,800, or 12 per cent. They were comprised of young, ambitious and upwardly mobile middle-class couples, many of whom were ‘second-generation’, the first American-born sons and daughters of immigrant families. They were seeking to maximize the educational and environmental opportunities and advantages for their children, and to live lives which were both Jewish but also part of the suburb. The sense of Jewishness varied according to Zionist or secularist tendencies. Generally, however, while the study appeared to find little if any anti-Semitism, there was a preference among Jews that it was easier to be with other Jews. This was evident in the formation of distinctive Jewish associations, the building of synagogues, and the fact that in their friendships Jews largely chose other Jews. However, there was a measure of assimilation evident, as in England, in the active involvement of Jews in local business affairs, and in political organizations such as the Democrat Party and the Liberal-minded American Veterans’ Committee.29 The Crestwood Heights study in Toronto found that although there were sometimes articulations of anti-Jewish feeling, there were two general levels of Jewish social interaction. There was shared sociability with Gentiles, and organizations with Jews and Gentiles belonging were participated in. Yet there was also a clear preference for the maintaining of group identity by the construction of synagogues and in the range of formal organizations based upon the social and economic interests in Jewish life. The importance of a good schooling, incorporating both a – 112 –

Jewish and Asian Suburbanization Canadian-style education, but emphasizing involvement with Jewish peers, was evident in the Toronto study.30 During the 1960s and 1970s, the findings of other sociologists confirmed this general interpretation that such groups and associations reflected the preference of many Jews to live with other Jews. A strongly shared family and kinship orientation gave rise to large and lively kinship networks, in spatially proximate suburbs, beyond the city centre.31 This location of Jewish suburbs was also, it appears, as in England, a function of the desire to be relatively close to established Jewish places of work. Many such workplaces were family-run. Hence, Jewish suburbs were not as far from workplaces as suburbs with large and affluent Protestant or Catholic communities.32 The sense of connectedness within Jewish communities in the suburbs was lost on those who, in the 1950s, were determined to condemn all suburbs as tarred with the brush of homogeneity. Hence critics of suburbs, whether Jewish or not, seized upon Crestwood Heights as a detailed and largely depressing account of suburban Canada. Canadian Jewish suburbanites were by implication viewed as rootless, as hyper-individualistic, and as falsely sociable as suburbanites everywhere else in North America.33 This critical perspective failed to appreciate not just the material gains which Jews made as they entered and settled the suburbs, but the nuanced and flexible relationship of Judaism and its institutions to a suburban context. Herbert Gans understood this. Some years after the study of Park Forest, Gans made his famous investigation into Levittown, Pennsylvania. The Levittowns, built by the famous mass-builder William S. Levitt and Sons, were synonymous with the proliferating subdivisions of the 1950s and 1960s. Gans discovered much the same patterns in Levittown as he had in Park Forest: the clustering of the Jewish population during the early months of initial settlement, and the building of various synagogues and a Jewish community centre. Yet this was a population that had moved from older downtown areas, and enjoyed higher levels of affluence, material comforts and mobility than had the first generation of settlers. In a retrospective on his professional work, and on aspects of his personal history, Gans emphasized that his findings for suburbia in general, and Jewish suburban life in particular, revealed the importance of a continuing negotiation between Jewishness and a wider involvement in American society. He set himself against the critics of Jewish suburbia who discerned in suburban life a deracinated and conformist mass culture. Gans, furthermore, argued that his own research into Jewish suburbia had extirpated his confusion and doubt on the subject. ‘I think now that I undertook a study of the Jews of Park Forest in 1949’, he wrote: partly to demonstrate the obtuseness and short-sightedness of the Jewish experts who did not want to understand the Jews who moved to the suburbs, and who thought that

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Suburban Century sermons against acculturation and heavier doses of traditional Jewish education would bring back their own good old days. However, the ingenious ways in which the young Jewish couples I studied in Park Forest, and later in Levittown, organised their communities sans experts were also fascinating to watch – and since the arguments about what was to be done were always held in public, fieldwork in the Jewish community was always far more lively than elsewhere.34

Other Jewish writers adopted a similarly nuanced and even optimistic perspective. In 1959, Rabbi Albert I. Gordon felt that most Jewish communities were becoming more comfortably off, and that they had developed a distinctive, often vibrant, associational culture based around the synagogue and Jewish cultural institutions.35 A historical perspective reveals what contemporary sociologists failed to reveal at the time: that the post-war suburbs offered millions of Jews stability and opportunity, both as individuals and as residential groupings. Hence, from the vantage point of the late twentieth century, Jewish historians such as Arthur Hertzberg and Leon Jick have recognized the ongoing and sometimes difficult negotiation between Jewish beliefs and cultural practices and other cultural forces in the United States.36 Yet they have provided generally upbeat accounts of the demise of social and spatial marginality, and the rise of greater levels of political efficacy and economic prosperity. These fundamental and democratic developments were coterminous with suburbanization.

Asians in the United States and England The Russell Sage Foundation’s survey of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States (1995) illustrated that Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, Hawaiians, Samoans, Vietnamese and Asian-Indians comprised the main profile of Asians in the United States in the late twentieth century. In total, Asian Americans numbered 7,273,660 by 1991, or 2.9 per cent of the population. The vast majority had emigrated to the United States in the post-war period, although there were long-standing Chinese and Japanese communities. The Chinese were also the largest population group among Asian Americans in the US Census by the 1990s, at 32 per cent.37 The Filipinos amounted to 19 per cent, and were until 1946 ‘Americans’, the Philippines having been annexed by the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Japanese amounted to 12 per cent, and Koreans and Asian-Indians were the next largest groups, each at 11 per cent.38 In England, the Asian profile was somewhat different. Asian-Indians and Pakistanis made up the largest Asian populations by the 1991 census, and of these, Indians were the largest group, numbering 840,000, or 1.5 per cent of the British population. Pakistanis numbered 477,000, or less than 1 per cent of the national population. The vast majority had emigrated during the post-war period. Unlike in – 114 –

Jewish and Asian Suburbanization the United States, moreover, the Japanese population has been much smaller and relatively much more recent, and was but one small group within the designation ‘other groups’ in the 1991 census. There have been, however, long-established Chinese communities in England, and the Anglo-Chinese population grew as a result of immigration during the twentieth century. The Chinese numbered just 157,000 in 1991, or 0.3 per cent of the population. Against the historical background of these general patterns and statistics, this second half of the chapter discusses some of the main similarities in the suburbanization experience of Asians in the United States and England.39 We first discuss the American context.

The Suburbanization of Asian Americans Large-scale Asian immigration into the United States began during the 1970s, and since then the various Asian population groups, in combination, have been that country’s fastest-growing minority group. A great deal of this immigration was simultaneous with much Hispanic migration from the Caribbean, and from Mexico and other southern American nations. Unlike many of the Hispanic immigrants, however, Asian groups rarely formed distinctive inner-city communities in the American metropolis.40 Overt residential segregation involving Asians was, therefore, distinctly lesser in magnitude than that involving Hispanics, and, as was apparent in the previous chapter, African Americans. As the Russell Sage authors argued, residential integration is ‘an important aspect of assimilation’, meaning in this sense assimilation into the mainstream United States, and, by no small implication, into the suburban core of the American Dream. While Asian assimilation was quite rapid, however, it varied between different Asian nationalities. The Japanese were most fully assimilated. This in no small part reflected the long-established nature of Japanese communities, many of whom had advanced both economically and occupationally since the anti-Japanese episode during the Second World War. Some had in fact endured some discrimination in their attempts to access the California suburbs of Berkeley, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco before the 1960s.41 Nonetheless, there were sizeable communities of comfortably-off Japanese in the Pacific cities as well as in other cities across the country. Such established communities probably facilitated the assimilation of the new and generally affluent middle-class Japanese immigrants of the 1970s and since. Rates of assimilation and suburban residence varied between other Asian groups. Some groups, in common with the Japanese, had been established in the United States for many years. Other groups were more recently arrived. But by the end of the suburban century, their urban and suburban dispersal was an established fact. We will look at the other Asian American populations in turn, beginning with the Chinese. – 115 –

Suburban Century Chinese people had emigrated to the United States in the nineteenth century, and between 1908 and the late 1950s over 76,500 Chinese migrated to the country, although many also emigrated over the same period.42 The Chinese lived in many suburban areas of American cities by the 1990s, the most famous and largest of them being Monterey Park in California, a sunbelt suburb which was described by one writer as the ‘first suburban Chinatown’ in the United States.43 The Koreans, moreover, a much smaller group than the Chinese, emigrated to the United States over the course of the twentieth century. Many made a point of settling in suburbs. For example, Montgomery and Fairfax counties, adjacent to Washington DC, contained sizeable Korean populations by the 1980s, and only 800 of the 44,000 Koreans living in the Washington areas lived in the District of Columbia.44 In the secondary sources utilized by this writer, there was less directly on Filipino than on Chinese or Korean suburbanization, but they were relatively well established, with medium to low segregation levels by 1990.45 The Vietnamese emigrated en masse to the United States from the mid-1970s, following the end of the Vietnamese War. A recently relative immigrant group, they possessed a higher proportion of foreign-born than other Asian American groups in the final two decades of the twentieth century, and were thus viewed by sociologists as less spatially assimilated than the Chinese or Korean populations in the United States. They had markedly lower levels of home ownership than other Asian groups too, at just 27 per cent by the mid-1990s.46 Nonetheless, there was little evidence of the creation of distinctively poor urban Vietnamese ghettos. Instead, the Vietnamese made their way to suburban areas of California such as Garden Grove and Westminster, in Orange County.47 There were also considerable numbers of Vietnamese people in Australian suburbs during the later twentieth century. Unlike in the United States, however, Vietnamese suburbanization appears to have preceded Chinese suburbanization in Australia.48 Sociologists have emphasized that Asian upward occupational mobility, high educational attainment, and the growth of the Asian middle class, despite degrees of difference within Asian populations in the United States, explains the high levels of Asian suburbanization in the United States, particularly since 1970, a date which suggests that fair-housing legislation and its apparatus was probably having at least some positive effect upon Asians of colour. Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom, moreover, have remarked upon the fast-growing number of public-school registrations since 1980. Many such schools had previously low or non-existent minority presence, and some had developed distinctively Asian student profiles. The point was, educational attainment and its occupational and material benefits was largely a naturally occurring process. Asians moved into schools that had once had no minority enrolment more as a consequence of self-help than of social engineering. That is certainly the point of view of the Thernstroms.49 Some support for that view can be seen at Irvine, a planned new town in California’s Orange County, where the Asian population grew from 7.8 per cent in – 116 –

Jewish and Asian Suburbanization 1988 to 18 per cent by 1998. There was much less of a commitment to ethnic integration at Irvine, but Asians certainly moved there. Certain local schools developed Asian profiles, and the nearby University of California-Irvine became a largely Asian campus.50 In both housing and education, then, Asian clustering had occurred, as had a measure of merging with more mixed, or largely white, suburbs.

Asian Suburbanization in England The evolution of Asian groups in England cannot be fully understood without a discussion of suburban dispersal. Of the many and diverse South Asian groups, it appears that Indians, notably Hindus and Sikhs from higher castes, have been most heavily represented within the suburbs. However, despite some clustering in twilight housing areas, many Pakistani Muslims have moved to the suburbs. Proportionately smaller Asian minority groups have migrated to the suburbs. The Japanese, from a much wealthier country than the Indians, also show evidence of moving to the suburbs. The Chinese, too, have experienced considerable levels of suburban dispersal. Large-scale Indian immigration into England began during the 1950s. Rashmi Desai’s study of Indian immigrants in Britain noted that by 1963 some were concentrated into distinctive communities in the poorer localities in English towns and cities. There was a tendency, however, for many Indian families to disperse from such areas.51 This phenomenon was to grow during and since the 1960s, despite some housing-market discrimination, largely as a consequence of the growth of an Indian middle class.52 Hence a 1970s study of Manchester found that poorer Indian households remained within their inner-urban communities, in areas of the city once occupied by Jews. Nonetheless, there was a considerable movement by business and professional households to the suburban outer rings of Manchester, and to nearby Lancashire and Cheshire satellite towns, in the pursuit of better accommodation which befitted financial and status gains. For example, the co-director of a textile business moved with his family to the Manchester suburbs ‘for a larger house and a better area’.53 This family was indicative of two key aspirations among Indians in England, namely the pursuit of home ownership and the possession of detached and semi-detached houses. Both are higher among Indians in England, generally, than for other ethnic groups of colour.54 Yet the desire to leave poorer inner-urban housing for a new home in a new housing development was to be found among Asians who rented, rather than owned, their housing. One Pakistani couple – the man was an accountant, the woman a shopkeeper – moved to the suburban new city of Milton Keynes in 1980. Their testimony is a classic statement of the environmental, housing and economic aspects of the suburban aspiration. It also, implicitly at least, reveals the tendency – 117 –

Suburban Century of middle-class people within ethnic groups to ‘lead’ the migration away from poorer areas of settlement. ‘In 1980’, they stated, ‘we were living in London, in Islington’: The housing wasn’t very good. You couldn’t park your car outside your house. You had to have a resident’s permit. There was no open space at all, and it was getting so expensive to live. [We] wanted to move out of London but we didn’t want to go too far. We’d heard about Milton Keynes in the national newspapers and TV commercials and when I saw the advert for the job here I thought ‘Ah, that is the place to go.’ I would say that Milton Keynes was much better than we expected. We moved into [the gridsquare of] Conniburrow and couldn’t believe it was a council house because it was such good quality. We were used to seeing council houses in London that were all dilapidated and run down. We were quite excited by it all.55

In common with other ethnic groups in the suburbs, the pursuit of better housing and a better residential environment did not provide any major obstacles to the collective life of middle-class Asians. Networks grew up which were based upon cultural institutions and associations, such as places of worship and the cinema, and upon the workplace and the family. These networks were maintained over distance by use of the car, the telephone and the community newspaper.56 Such groups constituted an ‘Anglo-Indian elite’ which had settled quite markedly within the suburbs by the end of the 1980s.57 And within the Pakistani Muslim community, those households who had moved out still maintained regular contact with the Muslim Association and with other cultural institutions.58 The Chinese formed little communities in English cities and towns for centuries, as in the United States. Small groups of Chinese seamen lived in England by the early nineteenth century. As with so many incoming groups, they settled within reach of the dock areas of east London, Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol. Many came from Hong Kong. Throughout the nineteenth century, and the first half of the twentieth century, levels of Chinese in-migration were low, until the surge in Hong Kong Chinese entering Britain from the New Territories in the 1950s, after the Communists took power in China in 1949. The majority settled in England, especially London, to work in the catering trade.59 The number and location of Chinese restaurants was used by one study in 1968 as a crude index of Chinese dispersal, turning up the fact that there were too many to count. Nonetheless, it affirmed that they were scattered all over London, including suburban areas. Beyond the Chinatown of London, then, was a widespread Chinese population. And beyond London itself, small numbers of Chinese had settled in most towns and cities in Britain, and had based their livelihood on restaurants.60 These have been found in both town centres and suburban retail areas, and even in relatively non-suburbanised small country towns and villages.

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Jewish and Asian Suburbanization For most of the post-war period, then, the dispersal of the Chinese in Britain involved suburbanization but was less closely related to it than to that of other immigrant groups discussed in this chapter. However, the most recent phase of Chinese immigration, from Hong Kong, has been characterized by a strong preference for both the suburbs and for the new town of Milton Keynes. During the 1990s, both prior to and since the end of British rule in 1997, the middle classes of Hong Kong, fearing Communist Chinese hegemony, began to take up residence in Britain, as in other countries. One Hong Kong enclave soon developed as a result of voluntary migration and clustering, in Totteridge in the north London borough of Barnet.61 The Milton Keynes example differs in one key respect. The Commission for New Towns, a planning and land-sales authority operating on behalf of the British Government to develop the new towns, had marketed the idea of living in Milton Keynes to Hong Kong Chinese businessmen and women. Some 2000 Chinese families moved to the new town.62 There is no doubt that the planned suburbanity of Milton Keynes appealed to them. ‘Most of us love it here’, said one spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Chinese in Milton Keynes: ‘We saw videos of Milton Keynes from the Commission for New Towns while we were in Hong Kong and we love all the green space, the parks and the lakes.’ And she was complimentary about the large and relatively cheap houses with gardens, when compared to the small, crowded and expensive apartments of Hong Kong.63 On moving from high-rise Hong Kong to low-rise Milton Keynes, the Chinese settled in many areas, but especially in one particular estate, Kents Hill, situated in the ‘university’ part of town. They established the apparatus of ethnic living in a largely foreign setting: Chinese schools, places of worship and a self-help group to help people find work and accommodation and to overcome language difficulties. In Milton Keynes, then, something akin to an affluent suburban Chinatown flowered in the final decade of the twentieth century. It was engendered by a longdistance migration from one of the world’s most urban cities to a place of rationalized suburban design. Perhaps even more so than the wealthy Japanese migrants to England, many Hong Kong Chinese had steered away from the central city and headed for a house and a garden in low-density surroundings. All of this was nothing less than a fascinating and ongoing global pursuit of the suburban aspiration. Whereas once, English and other European migrants had headed west to the United States, or south to Australia to realize the dream of a suburban home, now Pacific Rim migrants were heading north to England and east to the United States, for their own suburban house and garden. The English weather might not have been as warm and sunny as in Australia and California, but it was still a good place to realize the benefits of suburban living. Among the most recent of the Asian groups to emigrate to England have been the Japanese, the most affluent of so-called ‘developed world migrants’. The – 119 –

Suburban Century growth of Japanese investment in Europe since 1970 engendered the emigration of middle-class, often managerial, Japanese households to work in Britain and elsewhere. One study of those ‘developed world migrants’, published in 1998, found that Japanese households were to be found in wealthy central-city areas, but that there was a growing presence of non-white developed-world migrants, including the Japanese, in the middle-distance suburbs. Further out from the centre, there was also a Japanese presence in the suburbs of north-west London, and in pockets of south London. The pursuit of owner-occupation, and of detached and semidetached housing, was the major reason for these Japanese settlement choices.64

Conclusion The making of Jewish and Asian suburbia involved the continuing negotiation of cultural identities, and of religious observance, with American and English values. More generally, Asian and Jewish suburbanization was the culmination of internal migration away from poorer housing areas, and also of increasing affluence and upward social mobility. Jews developed distinctive suburbs in both countries, and by the late twentieth century there was evidence that Asian groups were following suit. There is, of course, scope for many more studies of migrations and negotiations within the context of the changing social and ethnic composition of the American and English city. For example, in both the United States and England, Irish and Italian Catholics lived in poorer housing areas before embarking into the suburbs. Despite the minority position of their religion, however, both groups have been less visible, and more socially and spatially assimilated, than ethnic groups of colour and Jews. In fact, they left much of their old inner-city housing as people of colour moved in.65 This chapter ends on three points. First, this book is really a suggestive startingpoint in the contemporary history of the multicultural suburbs, not a final and conclusive assessment. More historical work needs to be done, both at the micro level of local community development and at the more general level of national suburbanization patterns. The nature and extent of suburbanization of different ethnic groups, the general patterns and local particularities, both within countries and between them, should be of more interest to both social and urban historians than they currently are. Second, we need to bear in mind that academic discussion about ethnic segregation in the city, that so often and understandably emphasizes exclusion and prejudice, should also acknowledge the voluntarism evident in suburban clustering among different groups. Choice is still greater among wealthier groups and individuals, but inequality should never preclude an awareness of the suburban dream among those who pursue it, no matter what their means and circumstances. – 120 –

Jewish and Asian Suburbanization Third, the extensive suburbanization of Jews and of various Asian nationalities during the twentieth century reminds us that the ‘Anglo-American suburb’ was not the monopoly of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. While the term ‘Anglo-American suburb’ may be useful in identifying a town-planning ethos, it is almost useless as a descriptor of the social and ethnic composition of the post-war suburbs.

Notes 1. Edward Royle, Modern Britain: A Social History, 1750–1985 (London, 1991), p. 76. 2. John Walton, Lancashire: A Social History, 1558–1939 (Manchester, 1987), pp. 209, 226. 3. Andrew Davies, Steven Fielding and Terry Wyke, ‘Introduction’, in Andrew Davies and Steven Fielding (eds), Worker’s Worlds: Cultures and Communities in Manchester and Salford, 1880–1939 (Manchester, 1992), p. 7. 4. David Englander, ‘Booth’s Jews: the presentation of Jews and Judaism in Life and Labour of the People in London’, in David Englander and Rosemary O’Day (eds), Retrieved Riches: Social Investigation in Britain, 1840–1914 (Aldershot, 1995), pp. 289–321. 5. Emrys Jones, A Social Geography of Belfast (London, 1960), pp. 173–4. 6. J. Green, A Social History of the Jewish East End in London, 1914–1939 (Lampeter, 1991), p. 99. 7. B.A. Kosmin and D.J. De Lange, ‘Conflicting urban ideologies: London’s new towns and the metropolitan preference of London’s Jews’, London Journal, 6/ 2, 1980, p. 171. 8. Ibid, p. 173. 9. Tim Mason, ‘Residential succession, community facilities and urban renewal in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, New Community, 6/1 and 2, 1977–78, p. 79. 10. Ernest Krausz, Leeds Jewry: Its History and Social Structure (Cambridge, 1964), pp. 22–7. 11. Ernest Krausz, ‘Jews in Britain: the sociogeography of an old minority group’, New Community, 2/2, 1973, pp. 132–3. 12. See Ernest Krausz, ‘The Edgware survey: demographic results’, Jewish Journal of Sociology, 10/1, 1968, pp. 83–100; Ernest Krausz, ‘The Edgware survey: occupation and social class’, Jewish Journal of Sociology, 11/1, 1969, pp. 75–95; Ernest Krausz, ‘The Edgware survey: factors in Jewish identification’, Jewish Journal of Sociology, 11/2, 1969, pp. 151–63.

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Suburban Century 13. Stanley Waterman and Barry Kosmin, ‘Mapping an unenumerated ethnic population: Jews in London’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 9/6, 1986, pp. 491–4. 14. Ibid, p. 494. 15. Stanley Waterman, Jews in an Outer London Borough, Barnet (London, 1989), pp. 34–6. 16. Terry Glassar, ‘Jewburbia: a portable community’, New Society, 8 October 1970, pp. 630–1. 17. Krausz, ‘Edgware survey: factors’, p. 163. 18. Mason, ‘Residential succession, p. 79. 19. Michael Woolf, ‘Negotiating the self: Jewish fiction in Britain since 1945’, in A.R. Lee (ed.), Other Britain, Other Britishness: Contemporary Multicultural Fiction (London, 1995), pp. 128–30. 20. Lionel Jick, ‘North American Jewry’, in David Englander (ed.), The Jewish Enigma (Milton Keynes, 1992), pp. 144–7. 21. E.D. Baltzell, ‘The development of a Jewish upper class in Philadelphia, 1782–1940’, in Martin Sklare (ed.), The Jews: Social Patterns of an American Group (Glencoe, IL, 1958), pp. 272, 285. 22. Eric Homberger, The Penguin Historical Atlas of North America (Harmondsworth, 1995), pp. 97–100. 23. P.F. Cressey, ‘Population succession in Chicago, 1989–1930’, American Journal of Sociology, XLIV/1, 1938, p. 66. 24. W.A. Strandin and E.J. Lally, ‘Slum area transition’, The Review of the Society of Residential Appraisers, 18/7, 1952, p. 18. 25. Cressey, ‘Population’, p. 63. 26. Oscar Handlin, ‘American Jewry’, in E. Kedourie (ed.), The Jewish World: Revelation, Prophesy and History (London, 1979), p. 279. 27. Herbert J. Gans, ‘Relativism, equality and popular culture’, in Bennett M. Berger (ed.), Authors of Their Own Lives: Intellectual Biographies by Twenty American Sociologists (Berkeley, 1990), pp. 435–36. 28. Lawrence J. Sussman, New York Jewish History (New York State Archives Website, 2001: www.sara.nysed.gov/pubs/jewish/essay.html), p. 6. 29. Herbert J. Gans, ‘The origin and growth of a Jewish community in the suburbs: a study of the Jews of Park Forest’, in Sklare The Jews, pp. 205–47. 30. J.R. Seeley, R.A. Sim and E.W. Loosley, Crestwood Heights: A Study of the Culture of Suburban Life (New York, 1958), pp. 204–16. 31. R.F. Winch, ‘Permanence and change in the history of the American family and some speculations as to its future’, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 32/1, 1970, p. 11; R.F. Winch, S.Greer and R.L. Blumberg, ‘Ethnicity and extended familism in an upper-middle-class suburb’, American Sociological Review, 32/2, 1967, p. 266. – 122 –

Jewish and Asian Suburbanization 32. Winch et al., ‘Ethnicity’, p. 266. 33. W.J. Newman, ‘Americans in subtopia’, Dissent, 4/3, 1957, pp. 256–7; Maurice Stein, ‘Suburbia: a walk on the mild side’, Dissent, 4/3, 1957, pp. 268–72. 34. Gans, ‘Relativism’, p. 447. 35. Albert I. Gordon, Jews in Suburbia (Boston, 1959), passim. 36. Arthur Hertzberg, The Jews in America: Four Centuries of an Uneasy Encounter; A History (New York, 1997), pp. 304–21; Jick, ‘North American Jewry’, p. 168. 37. Herbert Barringer, Robert W. Gardner and Michael J. Levin, Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States (New York, 1995), p. 1. 38. J. John Palen, The Suburbs (New York, 1995), p. 149. 39. Central Office of Information, Ethnic Minorities (London, 1997), p. 8. 40. Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, ‘Suburbanization and segregation in US metropolitan areas’, American Journal of Sociology, 94/3, 1988, pp. 609, 613; Barringer, Gardner and Levin, Asians, p. 129. 41. Harry H.L. Kitano, ‘Housing of Japanese Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area’, in Nathan Glazer and Davis McEntire (eds), Studies in Housing and Minority Groups (Berkeley, 1960), pp. 195–6. 42. Barringer, Gardner and Levin, Asians, p. 29. 43. Timothy Fong, ‘New ethnic patterns of residence: the first suburban Chinatown’, in Jon Gjerde (ed.), Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History (Boston, 1998), pp. 475–86. 44. Palen, The Suburbs, p. 152. 45. Barringer, Gardner and Levin, Asians, p. 130. 46. Ibid., p. 159. 47. Rob Kling, Spencer Olin and Mark Poster, Post-Suburban California: The Transformation of Orange County Since World War 2 (Berkeley, 1995), p. 22. 48. Anthony D. King, ‘Excavating the multi-cultural suburb: hidden histories of the bungalow’, in Roger Silverstone (ed.), Visions of Suburbia (London, 1997), p. 77. 49. Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible (New York, 1997), p. 342. 50. Nicholas Dagen Bloom, Suburban Alchemy: 1960s New Towns and the Transformation of the American Dream (Columbus, 2001), p. 206. 51. Rashmi Desai, Indian Immigrants in Britain (London, 1963), p. 23. 52. Susan Nowikowski and Robin Ward, ‘Middle class and British? An analysis of South Asians in suburbia’, New Community, 7/1, 1978–79, pp. 4–5. 53. Ibid., p. 5. 54. Peter Radcliffe, ‘“Race”, ethnicity and housing differentials in Britain’, in Valerie Karn (ed.), Ethnicity in the 1991 Census; Vol. 4: Employment, – 123 –

Suburban Century

55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64.

65.

Education and Housing Among the Ethnic Populations of Britain (London, 1997), pp. 130–1; 134–5. Jane Turner and Bob Jardine, Pioneer Tales: A New Life in Milton Keynes (Milton Keynes, 1985), p. 69. Nowikowski and Ward, ‘Middle class’, pp. 8–9. Vaughan Robinson, ‘The new Indian middle class in Britain’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 11/4, 1988, p. 465. Nowikowski and Ward, ‘Middle class’, p. 9. Kwee Choo Ng, The Chinese in London (London, 1968), p. 11. Ibid., pp. 27, 38. Andrew Buncombe and Tessa MacArthur, ‘London: multi-lingual capital of the world’, The Independent, 29 March 1999. Matthew Brace, ‘How Milton Keynes has become “Little Hong Kong”’, Independent, 6 July, 1998. Anon., ‘Lottery grant to boost Chinese support group’, Milton Keynes Sunday Citizen, 15 November 1998. Paul White, ‘The settlement patterns of developed world migrants in London’, Urban Studies, 35/10, 1998, pp. 1733–4; see also Buncombe and MacArthur, ‘London’. For America, see Hugh Brogan, The Penguin History of the United States of America (Harmondsworth, 1990), pp. 661–2; Richard G. Ford, ‘Population succession in Chicago’, American Journal of Sociology, LVI/2, 1950, pp. 159– 60. On the Irish in England, see John Chance, ‘The Irish: invisible settlers’, in Ceri Peach (ed.), Ethnicity in the 1991 Census; Vol. 2: The Ethnic Minorities of Great Britain (London, 1996), p. 23; on Italians, see John Brown, The UnMelting Pot: An English Town and its Immigrants (London, 1970), pp. 87–92, 224–5.

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Women and Suburban Sadness

–6– Women and Suburban Sadness According to the sociologist Susan Saegert, cities are ‘male’: thrusting, public and action-orientated. The suburbs, by contrast, are ‘female’: more inwardly-inclined, and even submissive. They apparently signify ‘domesticity, repose, closeness to nature, lack of seriousness, mindlessness, and safety’.1 Or as another writer argued, the suburbs have been deemed to ‘conform to the Freudian conception of femininity: passive, intellectually void, instinctually distractive – in short, anti-cultural’.2 Women and ‘the suburbs’ have thus been conjoined in a depressing and gendered myth of passivity and pointlessness. Little wonder that women in the suburbs have been seen as living passive and trivial lives, cooped up at home all day in comfortable coffins for the living, while the men were out and about, living life to the full. This scenario has been held to have damaging effects upon the mental health of suburban women. In both post-war England and the United States, psychologists, sociologists and cultural critics became convinced that suburban life was essentially sad and demoralizing for women, and damaging to their mental health. Concern for suburban women went beyond professional circles. This image of the disempowered suburban woman also permeated popular cultural products, on both sides of the Atlantic. In popular music, for example, Manfred Mann’s 1960s British hit ‘Semi-detached suburban Mr James’ was a lament for a woman who had chosen the wrong man, and was destined to be a slave to his selfishness.3 The sympathy continued. ‘Suburban Relapse’ by the English punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees shrieked about the breaking of a woman’s mind through boredom. During the 1990s, the English band Suede’s ‘The power’ and Marianne Faithfull’s ‘The ballad of Lucy Jordan’ were both songs about the sad and lonely suburban snare in which women lay trapped.4 Cinema also has its fair share of lonely and dissatisfied suburban women. These range from the sweet middle-aged but disconsolate lady in Brief Encounter, a British film classic of the 1940s, or the attractive but spiritless robots in the 1970s film, The Stepford Wives. In the latter movie, the idea of women manipulated by a cruel patriarchal suburban environment in small-town America is taken to an absurd conclusion. And the aforementioned song ‘The ballad of Lucy Jordan’ was used in the feature film Thelma and Louise (1991), a movie that was in part about escape from suburban subordination. – 125 –

Suburban Century The aim of this chapter is to discuss critically some of the writings which were, specifically, about suburban neurosis and suburban sadness. It will become clear that, while there were adjustment problems for many women who arrived in the suburbs for the first time, these were not unique to any suburban condition. Significantly, most problems were usually solved as time elapsed. These fundamental points were ignored by critics of suburbia. It is also important to note that in England during the 1950s and the 1960s, professional debates about the suburban condition of women were often closely integrated with analysis of the so-called ‘new-town blues’. These were often viewed as the same phenomenon: the psychological problems of adjustment in new housing developments, whether planned or unplanned. There was no large-scale post-war new-towns programme in the United States, of course, so the debate about ‘new-town blues’ was less prominent. Nonetheless, concerns about the newtown blues were expressed during the early planning of a number of privatelyfunded American suburban new towns and new suburban communities during the 1960s.

Suburban Neurosis in England: Observation and Diagnosis The first systematic attempt to explore this was undertaken by Dr Stephen Taylor. He worked in a South London practice during the 1930s. Writing in the medical professions’ journal The Lancet, Taylor coined the quite extreme term ‘suburban neurosis’ to refer to the psychological problems and physical symptoms of the lower-middle-class woman. She suffered from backache, weight loss, loss of breath and insomnia. These symptoms were blamed upon two causes. One was the isolation and loneliness caused by the apparent absence of community and kin. The second cause was ‘false values’: women were presented as victims of the advertisers of labour-saving devices such as Hoovers, electrical and gas goods, and ready-made clothes. These items left women with too much time on their hands, it was alleged, and engendered a sense of worthlessness which undermined wellbeing.5 In England, following the abnormal circumstances of war and the priorities and diversions of Reconstruction, the idea of suburban neurosis was revisited during the 1950s and 1960s. Vast new housing estates, both private and council, were spreading out on muddy fields, away from the older parts of towns and cities. In 1958, the Lancet argued that the earlier inter-war problems of suburban women had in part been solved by the collective experience of war, by the sense of pulling together among women on the Home Front. Yet as memories of war waned, and as ‘great working-class populations were translated into new homes in country suburbs’, the problem was reoccurring, but increasingly among working-class

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Women and Suburban Sadness women, who were unwittingly following ‘a middle-class pattern of social isolation as a measure of respectability’.6 Other observers, almost always men, went into these expanding suburban areas, and divined, or at least they thought they divined, the wellsprings of suburban neurosis: the weakening of family and kinship ties, the lack of easy access to the older and familiar areas, and a child-bound and boredomfilled life. The well-known sociology Family and Kinship in East London, for example, first published in 1957, painted a fairly miserable picture of a workingclass woman’s lot on a new estate. She had left the cosy extended family of the East End for the isolated suburbs of Essex. She was missing London, and missing her mum. The result was a feeling of loneliness during the day, a greater dependence on the husband, and a desire to put more faith in material goods to compensate for the weakening of kin and community. Here were the wellsprings of suburban sadness for English working-class women.7 Oral historians have since accentuated the negative, by unquestioningly taking these sociological findings and reiterating them. ‘Those who listened hard’, Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook have written of the 1950s: might have detected [the] inner emptiness of the young woman in the new house on the estate who, in the middle of the morning, reflecting on the desertion of the streets and the bottles of milk on the doorsteps, felt the absence of Mam, and burst into tears for no reason.8

The Alternative Diagnosis in England Blackwell and Seabrook’s emotional polemic, however, conveniently ignored many other findings about suburban women. During the 1950s and 1960s as debates about suburban neurosis and the new-town blues became pronounced in England, a number of different studies attempted to ascertain whether neurotic behaviour was a problem specifically caused by moving to the suburbs and new towns. In Sheffield, the ostensible difficulties of an ‘uprooted’ working-class population, rehoused from a slum to a large new estate, appeared to demonstrate that moving house was no more of a cause of complaints such as loneliness, neglect and boredom than other more obvious causes, such as ‘poverty, wealth, idleness, overwork, lack of love, excess of love’, and so on.9 Similarly, in Crawley New Town by the late 1950s, hospital psychiatrists were investigating the nature of ‘Crawley neurosis’, an ‘emotional disturbance’ allegedly caused by the problems of Londoners adjusting to life in a raw new town. This was one study notable for the involvement of a woman psychiatric worker. Crawley was a markedly young town, comprised mostly of couples who were raising children. This study divided its subjects into patients and controls, the former being

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Suburban Century those who were undergoing treatment at the town’s out-patient clinic, that is, a surgery for those with a low-level problem which required them to visit a doctor from time to time. At first sight, things looked worse for women than for men. It was found that three-quarters of both male patients and controls preferred Crawley to London, compared with less than two-thirds of women patients and controls. Women patients, therefore, were more likely to express dissatisfaction with Crawley and manifested higher degrees of loneliness that men: 40 per cent of women patients complained of boredom and of other symptoms such as antisocial behaviour and indifference to others, and also a sense of status superiority. In qualification, however, the authors of the study could not, so therefore would not, directly say whether these were attitudes resulting from a house move in general, or a move to a new town in particular.10 A later study of a psychiatric practice in Crawley, published in 1967, came to the uncomfortable conclusion that any problems of ‘new-town blues’ and also of the blues of women in older towns were felt most miserably by women of child-bearing age, and those women were of course quite heavily represented in new towns.11 A study of Harlow New Town attempted to ascertain if there was any evidence to prove that neighbourhood community and amenity provision in the new town lessened the incidence of neuroses caused by moving house when compared with the situation in less well-planned suburbs. Harlow was also a town full of young people, a veritable ‘pram town’, whose average age was twenty-seven years. The study concluded that any neurotic behaviour could not automatically be ascribed to the new town, but to the general experience of moving house and district. There was no evidence of a specifically new-town or suburban cause of neurosis, and in fact the study argued that the new towns manifested lower levels of reported ‘nerves’ than less well-planned and -designed suburban areas.12 In Croydon, South London, however, a fast-growing area, a comparative study of the mental health of the population in an established part of town and in the new estates found that there was no difference at all between circumstances in the two areas.13 Furthermore, a women-oriented study of a London County Council overspill estate in Hertfordshire, undertaken by a woman, found that young women in the estate ‘showed no definite symptoms of a higher incidence of a psycho-neurotic illness than women of the same age elsewhere’.14 A review of the literature on suburban neurosis and new-town blues concluded that both these alleged conditions had little to do with moving to suburbs or new towns. There was, it argued, ‘no significant difference in the prevalence of neurotic ill-health under widely differing conditions of urban life’.15 Another study concluded that, rather than a concentration upon the notion of suburban neurosis, a more relevant focus for debate might be termed ‘transitional neurosis’.16 And a small survey of working-class suburbanites who had been moved to a council estate outside Salford, in Lancashire, during the 1950s found that the idea that – 128 –

Women and Suburban Sadness women were miserable because they were pining for their mums was greatly exaggerated. Instead, regular contacts were soon resumed, and any spatial separation from kin was viewed ‘as a minor incidental disadvantage of suburban life’ when compared to the advantages of the new home.17 Perhaps the most telling synopsis of all, however, was that of Dr Stephen Taylor and his colleague Sidney Chave, in their study of mental health in ‘newtown’: We found no real evidence of what one of us (Taylor) twenty five years ago described as the ‘suburban neurosis’, nor of what has more recently been described as ‘new-town blues’. [Some] people do indeed show loneliness, boredom, discontent with environment and worries, particularly over money. It is easy enough for enterprising enquirers to find such people, and to attribute these symptoms to the new towns. But a similar group of similar size can be found in any community, new or old, if it is sought.18

These findings came at a convenient time for the planners of Milton Keynes. Suzanne Beauchamp, who worked on social-development policies during the formulation of the Plan for Milton Keynes, argued in 1969 that adjustment problems were not specific to new towns. She also noted that any general difficulties and problems engendered by moving home were rarely permanent. Nonetheless, it appears that the debates over suburban neurosis and the new-town blues served the purpose of maintaining vigilance about the needs of newcomers. As Beauchamp argued, there was no room for complacency. She maintained that the general anxieties and dissatisfactions felt by people moving should serve as a basis for improving the social, entertainment and service provision of new towns.19

Suburban Neurosis in the United States: Observation and Diagnosis During the Second World War, writers who ventured into the new and temporary defence communities noted that some of the married women with babies or infants were not happy with the conditions of their trailer and its site. The trailer was often in a huge lot with other trailers, and many miles away from shops and places of leisure. Many women were lonely, and missing friends, as the radical novelist and writer John Dos Passos discovered in his assessment of the ‘state of the nation’ that was the wartime United States. Dos Passos quoted voices of the time, one of which stated that life in the defence communities was ‘particularly hard on a woman with a baby’ as there was little chance of getting away: [and] no place to put the baby where it would be out of earshot. It wasn’t so bad for a man, who went to work every day, but women were getting what they called ‘trailer wacky’.20

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Suburban Century During the 1950s and 1960s, however, a time of unprecedented prosperity and optimism in American society, women were also haunted in their new homes. Trailer-wackiness became ‘suburban sadness’ or something much worse. Articles in sociological and medical journals reported serious personal problems of women arising in the new and rapidly growing post-war subdivisions. Popular critiques of suburbia pointed to the ‘crack in the picture window’ which issued from the deeper conflicts of suburban life.21 The prominent cultural critic David Riesman coined the term ‘suburban sadness’ to describe the condition of millions of women living in the new subdivisions. ‘The visiting intellectual’, he wrote, ‘[finds] the lives of these women empty . . .’ Riesman emphasized the ‘captivity of the housewives tied down in their suburbs’ by young children, by the lack of a car and by the absence of nearby family who might act as babysitters. He was struck ‘by the eagerness of the housewives to talk to somebody’.22 Little wonder: while the men went off to work in the day, women were victims of ‘privatization’ and isolation.23 Intellectual women, however, were also fearful of the impact of suburban life upon women. The feminist writer Betty Friedan notably drew upon the negative stereotypes of suburban women to present what some now interpret as a rather simplistic view.24 In 1963, her influential polemic The Feminine Mystique depicted a sense of maladjustment of American suburban women. As the centre of the prosperous All-American family, they ought to have been contented and fulfilled. Instead, however, women were haunted by a strange dissatisfaction: Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night – she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question – ‘Is this all?’25

Worse still than trailer-wackiness, suburban sadness or daily discontent was the crisis of mental health for young married women who were caught in the ‘splitlevel trap’. The book of the same name, written by Katherine and Richard Gordon with the help of the journalist Max Gunther, gave a number of depressing examples from ‘disturbia’, namely, ‘a disturbed suburban town’ in Bergen County, New Jersey. Here are just two: In one of the split-level houses, a young mother is crying. She is crouching in a dark closet. Voices in the walls are telling her she is worthless. Another young mother sits in her house alone. Her husband is not there, nor will he ever be again. He has told her very bluntly that he does not want to live with her any more.26

The year was 1961, and these women lived in ‘a world of people in restless motion’: – 130 –

Women and Suburban Sadness They have come like pioneers into a new land, from other places, other economic and social stations. With a brave independence of spirit, they have deliberately broken from old family ties, old neighbourhoods and old cultural groups.27

During the later 1950s and early 1960s, the Gordons studied the ‘emotional disorders’, ‘psychosomatic disorders’ and ‘psychiatric problems’ in Bergen County.28 In a series of articles, their findings were generally the same, and deeply worrying to the writers. Married men were stressed and dangerous, due to the pressures of work and of their rapidly ascending occupational mobility. Children appeared worrisome and potentially violent in the unstable world of the mobile suburb, where the father figure was away at work for long periods of time. And in between, feeling confused, neglected, lonely and inadequate, was the young wife in the suburban home. New, young, suburban America was where these problems were allegedly at their worst. In slowly growing or static older suburbs, argued the Gordons, there was less of a problem, while the rural America of yesteryear became their benchmark by which modern suburban households were found wanting: Consider how all this differs from life in the stable communities of the past. In these communities there lived a kind of family that was vastly unlike the mobile suburban household: the farm family. This was a close-knit unit.29

(The myth persisted. Perhaps ex-President George Bush Sr had similar thoughts when, during the 1992 election campaign, he implored Americans to become more like the wholesome Waltons, the unctuously honest television farm family who lived in Depression and wartime America, and less like the Simpsons, the suburban cartoon family of the 1990s.30 Unlike the Waltons, where most women were dependably tied to the hearth, kitchen or shop counter, Marge and Lisa Simpson are more independent and critical of the men in their lives.) For the American oral historians Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb, writing during the early 1970s, one of the ‘hidden injuries of class’ was the weakening of women’s kinship and community ties brought about by the move to the suburbs. Unconsciously echoing the earlier concerns of Willmott and Young for workingclass Londoners in England, Sennett and Cobb argued that women appeared to be conflicted by the experience of moving home. On the one hand, they welcomed the opportunities for a nice new house in the suburbs, and for a fulfilling nuclear family life. But they felt lonely and cut off from the old neighbourhood. Sennett and Cobb argued that such feelings ‘appeared to be more than just a feeling of temporary dislocation that would ease when people became adjusted to their new surroundings’.31 In 1970, the cultural critic Philip Slater also pointed to the peculiarly suburban causes, as he saw it, of American women’s increasingly diffident and miserable – 131 –

Suburban Century behaviour. One of Slater’s concerns was the appearance and temper of women. He argued that women were becoming defensive and grumpy because of ‘the suburban living pattern’. By this, and with no great originality, Slater meant that husbands were going out to the city and participating in a modern and meaningful public life. Their wives, however, were still engaged in ‘the hopeless task of trying to act out a rather pathetic bucolic fantasy’ oriented toward the nineteenth century.32 Unlike the psychiatrists, however, Slater emphasized different symptoms of an allegedly house-bound life. He lamented the demise of women’s femininity, and the appearance of the ‘desexualised masculine style’ of ‘suburban matrons’. These women affected ‘hard and severe’ hairstyles, wore unflattering mannish clothes, and adopted a sarcastic or bluff conversational manner.33 That, implied Slater, was about as far as the frustrated woman of suburbia was going to go in order to challenge her role ascription.

The Revised Diagnosis in the United States The assumptions underlying Slater’s observations about some sort of desperate suburban condition were already out of date when he penned them. Just as experts in England effectively undermined the notion of a particularly suburban set of problems, so too did professionals in both the United States and Canada. In 1961, for example, the psychiatrist H.B.M. Murphy, based in Canada, argued that internal migration in general often required ‘psychological readjustment’, but he emphasized that any mental problems of newly arrived migrants in suburban areas might not be the consequence of suburban life at all. Furthermore, drawing upon English writings and his own professional experience, he felt that any analysis which blamed psychological disturbances upon the general categories of ‘migration’ and ‘social change’ were, to say the least, ambiguous.34 A more devastating critique of specifically suburban women’s disorders was provided by Herbert J. Gans in his review of The Split Level Trap. He largely dismissed the notion that a peculiarly suburban neurosis or sadness afflicted the women who lived there. He emphasized that the Gordons had picked just a few atypical cases, from which they were keen to make massive negative generalizations about modern suburbia and mental health. ‘If anything’, wrote Gans: the move from the city to suburbs reduces stress, for example by facilitating child rearing, by making available neighbours of similar age and interests who enhance the quantity and quality of social life, and by relieving at least some people from urban congestion.35

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Women and Suburban Sadness In other words, life in a new suburban home was less stressful than it was in a putatively smaller and poorer inner-urban one. Hence Gans concluded, in very similar terms to those of Stephen Taylor, that any pathologies identified as peculiarly suburban were not unique to suburbia at all. They could and did ‘occur just as easily in an urban neighbourhood’.36 There is other evidence, from different times and places, to support this perspective. For example, a study of Cleveland Ohio published in 1940 found that cases of the mental illness of schizophrenia were more likely to be found in blighted, poorer, high-density areas surrounding central business districts. Interestingly, the study argued that the high turnover of population in such areas, low economic status, and the high delinquency rates, were contributory environmental factors to mental problems.37 A wartime study, in Chicago, also found that higher rates of mental illnesses ranging from manic depression to schizophrenia, were concentrated within the city’s centre, but low rates were found on the city’s periphery. In Milwaukee, manic depressive types were also more heavily located in downtown areas, while in Omaha, Nebraska, ‘social pathologies’ and related mental disorders were low in areas characterized by single-family dwellings.38 A clear conclusion may be drawn from these findings: any historical assessment of the social psychiatric and sociological evidence for mental-health problems in ‘the suburbs’ cannot accept that they were a uniquely pathogenic no-man’s and no-woman’s land between some heroic and organic rural nirvana and the collectively thriving, but economically impoverished, inner city beloved of the advocates of high-density urbanity. As in England during the 1960s, however, the debates about suburban sadness in the United States did have some relevance to the planning of new communities. And just as key planners in Milton Keynes acknowledged the need to take steps to minimise problems of adaptation to the new town, so too did the planners of Reston. The founder of Reston, Robert E. Simon, devolved the task of developing social planning in his new town to Carol R. Lubin. Lubin’s career had embraced the New Deal’s International Labour Office during the 1930s and, in the post-war years, the Welfare and Health Council of New York City, the Washington Centre for Metropolitan Studies, and the Ford Foundation. Hence she had long been interested in housing issues, and social and urban problems, and was committed to liberal intervention as a solution. As the Washington Evening Star, in a 1963 article on Carol R. Lubin, put it: ‘Her job is to banish new-town blues.’39 Hence, the next chapter of the present volume discusses the importance placed by Reston’s planners upon the need to provide generous cultural and community facilities, and adequate services, in order to prevent the spectre of new-town blues from haunting the burgeoning new city. The notions of suburban sadness or suburban neurosis were flawed. But as both Carol Lubin and Suzanne Beauchamp had understood, that conclusion did not – 133 –

Suburban Century negate any equally dangerous assumption that everything in a new housing development was fine for women. For while women generally and genuinely liked their suburban home and garden, and preferred the low-density residential context of so many suburban developments to the higher densities and perceived disadvantages of urban living, they were not presented with a problem-free suburban environment. The next section, therefore, moves from the general debates about suburban neurosis and suburban sadness, and into an intertwined comparison of the disadvantages and dissatisfactions of suburban life for women in both countries during the post-war period.

Women and the Dissatisfactions of Suburban Life The starting point for this discussion is H.E. Bracey’s comparative sociological study of subdivisions in Columbus, Ohio and of new estates in Bristol, England made in the late 1950s. Although the debates about suburban neurosis and suburban sadness were at their height then, Bracey made no reference to them. Instead, he took a different approach, and itemized what he saw as the general difficulties facing people in suburban neighbourhoods. His findings are important because he at least attempted to make an informed comparison between the problems of England and those of the United States. In a section entitled ‘dissatisfaction’, Bracey gave a list of ‘reasons for disliking the new neighbourhood’.40 To be clear, the list encompassed the views and experiences of both men and women, but the causes and consequences of dissatisfaction were felt more fully by women. Privacy was very highly valued. There is evidence that a lack of privacy was a cause of complaint in both countries. In England, Bracey found that the definition of a ‘good neighbour’ clearly included a respect for privacy. As one English ‘housewife’ said, she wanted her neighbours to be ‘friendly’ but not nosy. In the United States, many people expressed the view that neighbours ought not to get too familiar.41 Generally, moreover, Bracey found that the English went in for more clearly defined boundary marking, notably raised fencing, than did the American cohort, but many Americans would have liked fencing, or better fencing, around their open plots.42 Issues to do with the poor layout of the subdivision and the new estate were also quite important, as were problems of access to facilities.43 The roughly similar levels of dissatisfaction with the layout of the subdivision and of the new estate indicated shared feelings of dissatisfaction about the closeness of the houses to each other. This was especially the case in the cheaper housing developments where there were more dwellings per acre, and which were felt to compromise privacy through noise or by being overlooked.44 Location also impacted upon ease of access and mobility. Both were essential to the enjoyment of not simply the suburban environment, but of any habitat. These – 134 –

Women and Suburban Sadness access and mobility issues, furthermore, were also centred upon the availability and cost of motor cars, of public transport, and of the time and distance from the shops, services and the other places where people wanted to go. For Americans, getting to shops posed few problems, while in England there was considerable complaint. Americans had more money and a higher ownership and usage of the car than their English equivalents. All but two of the American families studied by Bracey owned an automobile, and of those two one was a widow and the other a pensioner, indicating perhaps financial difficulties or disinclination to purchase and use a car. A quarter of American households, moreover, owned a second car, strongly suggesting ‘his’ and ‘hers’ usage. Inequalities in American car usage still persisted, however. A 1972 study found that in the San Francisco Bay area more than twice as many women as men lacked access to an automobile.45 In England, none of Bracey’s sample owned a second car. However, 43 per cent of households owned ‘or had sole use’ of a car, and 15 per cent owned a motorcycle, a total of 58 per cent.46 The public–private sector distinction introduced a significant bias, however. Of private owner-occupied households, 80 per cent owned or had sole use of a car, indicating a low level of car ownership among the council tenants of late 1950s Bristol. English council tenants were more reliant, therefore, on buses.47 American families thus enjoyed higher levels of private mobility than did the English. In both countries, of course, men had first call on the car where there was but one, in order to commute to work and also for their leisure purposes.48 Unless it was a two-car family, and that was still a minority of families even in the United States, women were disadvantaged by the discriminate access to motorized mobility. This was particularly difficult for them in daily trips to the shops, often with babies or young children, in both countries. Yet even here a point of comparative qualification is needed. For Bracey observed that ‘Americans do not to find, and in general do not want shops to be located on a residential subdivision’.49 This was in part consequential upon higher levels of personal mobility in Columbus than in Bristol. It was also probably a consequence of the greater spatial spread of American subdivisions, and the consequently greater dispersal of suburban shopping centres and strips alongside main roads between residential subdivisions and town and city centres.50 The car culture had brought about an expectation that shops and a host of entertainment and leisure facilities should be within easy reach, but not next door. Bracey’s study was mostly concerned with young families, in common with most of the sociologies of 1950s suburbia. Following that decade, however, American and English suburbs underwent significant alterations in household composition as a consequence of wider social changes. In both countries, notably, the divorce and remarriage rate began to rise faster during the 1970s as the divorce laws were liberalized, thus contributing toward a growing number of single-person – 135 –

Suburban Century households, and of single-parent households of varying periods of duration.51 It is also important to emphasize continuity here, however, because many millions of women stayed within original marriages or married again, and so stayed as wives and mothers within the conventional nuclear family. In general, women’s lives in the suburbs have become more diverse than they were during the 1950s, yet it has recently been argued that little is known in detail about this suburban diversity.52 A 1970s study of a planned new suburban community in New Jersey observed both the favourable and disadvantageous aspects of suburban living for women. They certainly appreciated their new home, the sense of neighbourliness and the openness and safety of the residential environment for both themselves and their families. There was, however, criticism of the lack of transportation essential for women who commuted to work and back. There was also the issue of inadequate and accessible shops. These problems were particularly hard for single-parent households, many of whom were the products of divorce. Keller also noted the lack of affordable and convenient apartments for smaller households in the New Jersey suburb.53 Single-income households were often poorer than double-income ones; thus two women writing in an American planning journal during the 1980s inverted the nouveau riche stereotype of suburbia to that of the nouveau poor. These were women-headed households who had experienced a decline in household income due to divorce, widowhood or abandonment. Zoning practices which kept residential areas some distance from shops, services and employment certainly maintained property values for those in traditional nuclear families who could afford to live in such suburbs, but did little improve the quality of life for those whose fortunes had declined.54 Many single mothers required day-care help for their children, for example, and other support facilities not readily available in many suburban neighbourhoods.55 Such day care was necessary when women worked outside the home. In the United States, the proportion of women taking paid employment beyond the home passed 50 per cent for the first time in 1983, and continued to rise thereafter.56 In other words, the problem of access to facilities and resources for single women did not disappear. A number of later studies indicated the continuing problems of location and mobility for women in the United States, whether they were single or married. In the mid-1990s for example, Clare Cooper Marcus, retired Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, could still affirm that middle-class women were more affected by the location of the home, and by access issues, than were men. Women gave more consideration to the potential problems of access to shops, places of employment, services, child-care facilities, and so on.57 We can infer from this that while the car was of course of major value in helping to negotiate these problems, middle-class women were still more engaged with child-rearing and home-making than were their male partners. – 136 –

Women and Suburban Sadness In England, problems with mobility and access continued to be experienced by suburban women. They were also experienced in the new town of Milton Keynes, where social planning had not been able to do much about the evolving troubles of public transport, both in the new city and in England more generally. These problems were felt most heavily by poorer women, whether in households that they ran single-handedly, or in impoverished working-class nuclear families. In a growing new community, where shops, services and places of leisure were often some way away, many women were still quite heavily dependent upon public transport, and the issue of how far public transport met their needs was a key one during the era of the deregulation of public transport, that is, the replacement of state- or council-owned services by private companies.58 As in the United States, moreover, a higher proportion of women were in paid employment in the concluding years of the twentieth century than at mid-century. The percentage of women in paid employment aged between 20 and 64 years in Britain passed the 50 per cent mark for the first time in 1970, and continued to rise.59 But many women who did not have cars, or first usage of them, still required public transport to get to work. Where public transport was inadequate, and expensive, problems were bound to ensue.

Conclusion Generally then, as Susan Saegert summarized in 1980, ‘suburban women were more dissatisfied at home when they would have liked to be free to leave the home and when they did not see the home as a satisfying setting for their particular lifestyle’. Too much ‘home’, and too little access to the life beyond it, was courting sadness.60 Yet there was no convincing evidence that women in either American or English suburbs were uniquely prone to neuroses. Moreover, the growing number of women settling in the suburbs during the late twentieth century strongly suggested that the attractions of suburban living strongly outweighed the disadvantages. There were long-term reasons for this. Writing in 1975, a leading sociologist of suburbia, Sylvia Fleis Fava, noted an important demographic change in post-war suburbs, a change applicable to both the United States and to England. She argued that the earlier post-war suburbs had been heavily populated with cityto-suburb movers, but increasingly, as the offspring of the earlier generations grew up and matured, they too favoured life in the suburbs. By implication, for millions of women, suburbia was the norm, and being born there exerted a strong preference for suburban living in the future. Hence, there was a great deal of suburbto-suburb mobility within a ‘suburb-dominated society’.61 This observation applied to other countries. As Veronica Strong-Boag and others have observed, millions of American, Australian, Canadian and English women actively favoured suburban

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Suburban Century housing and suburban living during the 1980s and 1990s.62 For England, specifically, the feminist writer Clara Greed has argued that suburban life and housing remained popular with many women.63 Finally, it is important to note that these writers also emphasized the lack of integration of many suburban areas with amenities and services, a problem which continued to be felt most heavily by those with less financial power and less mobility.64 Yet even here, women were not ultimately defeated and pacified by these difficulties. As we have already seen, many actively sought out both informal and formal help, while others became leaders of groups and associations intended to improve life in the suburbs. This is discussed in the next chapter.

Notes 1. Susan Saegert, ‘Masculine cities and feminine suburbs: polarised ideas, contradictory realities’, Signs, 5/3, supplement, 1980, p. S97. 2. Quoted in S.F. Fava, ‘Women’s place in the new suburbia’, in Gerda R. Wekerle, Rebecca Peterson and David Morley (eds), New Space for Women (Boulder, 1980), p. 131. 3. Manfred Mann, ‘Semi-detached, suburban Mr James’, on Ages of Mann CD (Polygram, 1993). 4. Siouxsie and the Banshees, ‘Suburban relapse’, on The Scream CD (Polydor, 1989, originally 1979); Suede, ‘The power’, on Dog Man Star CD (Nude, 1995); Marianne Faithfull, ‘The ballad of Lucy Jordan’, on Thelma and Louise soundtrack CD (MCA, 1991). 5. Jane Lewis and Barbara Brookes, ‘A reassessment of the work of the Peckham Health Centre, 1926–1951’, Milbank Memorial Quarterly: Health and Society, 61/2, 1983, pp. 330–32; Mark Clapson, Invincible Green Suburbs, Brave New Towns: Social Change and Urban Dispersal in Post-war England (Manchester, 1998), pp. 121–55. 6. Anon., ‘Suburban neurosis up to date’, Lancet, January 1958, p. 146. 7. Michael Young and Peter Willmott, Family and Kinship in East London (Harmondsworth, 1979), pp. 131–99. 8. Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook, A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Postwar Working Class (London, 1985), p. 110. 9. P. Hall, ‘Some clinical aspects of moving house as an apparent precipitant’, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 10/1, 1966, p. 68. 10. P. Sainsbury and J. Collins, ‘Some factors relating to mental illness in a new town’, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 10/1, 1966, pp. 45, 48, 50–1. 11. Anon., ‘Psychiatric illness in a new town practice’, Lancet, 31 March 1967. – 138 –

Women and Suburban Sadness 12. S.P.W. Chave, ‘Mental health in Harlow new town’, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 10/1, 1966, p. 42. 13. E.H. Hare, ‘Mental health in new towns: what next?’, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 10/1, 1966, p. 53; E.H. Hare and G.K. Shaw, Mental Health on a New Housing Estate: A Comparative Study of Health in Two Districts of Croydon (London, 1965), passim. 14. Margot Jeffreys, ‘Londoners in Hertfordshire: the South Oxhey estate’, in Ruth Glass et al., London: Aspects of Change (London, 1964), pp. 245–6. 15. Hare, ‘Mental health’, p. 58. 16. S.D. Coleman, Mental Health and Social Adjustment in a New Town, cited in Bernard Ineichen, ‘Neurotic wives in a modern residential suburb’, Social Science and Medicine, 9, 1975, p. 481. 17. J.B. Cullingworth, ‘The social implications of overspill: the Worsley social survey’, Sociological Review (New Series), 8/1, 1961, p. 93. 18. Lord Taylor and Sidney Chave, Mental Health and Environment (London, 1964), p. 175. 19. Suzanne Beauchamp, ‘Social development’ (1969), in Mark Clapson et al. (eds), The Best Laid Plans: Milton Keynes Since 1967 (Luton, 1998), p. 61. 20. John Dos Passos, State of the Nation (Boston, 1944), p. 55. 21. John Keats, The Crack in the Picture Window (Cambridge, MA, 1957). 22. David Riesman, ‘The suburban sadness’, in W.M. Dobriner (ed.), The Suburban Community (New York, 1958), p. 388. 23. Ibid., p. 387. 24. Joanna Meyerowitz, ‘Beyond the Feminine Mystique: a reassessment of postwar mass culture, 1946–1958’, Journal of American History, 79/4, 1993, pp. 1455–58. 25. Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (London, 1963), p. 15. 26. R.E. Gordon, K.K. Gordon and M. Gunther, The Split Level Trap (New York, 1961), pp.17, 19. 27. Ibid., p. 58. 28. R.E. Gordon and K.K. Gordon, ‘Emotional disorders of children in a rapidly growing suburb’, International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 4/2, 1958, pp. 85–90; ‘Psychiatric problems of a rapidly growing suburb’, A.M.A. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 79/5, 1958, pp. 543–4; ‘Psychosomatic problems in a rapidly growing suburb’, Journal of the American Medical Association, 170/15, 1959, pp. 1757–8; ‘Social psychiatry of a mobile suburb’, International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 6/1 and 2, 1960, pp. 89–90. 29. Gordon, Gordon and Gunther, Split Level Trap, p. 113. 30. Stanley Hochman and Eleanor Hochman, The Penguin Dictionary of Contemporary American History: 1945 to the Present (Harmondsworth, 1997), p. 493. – 139 –

Suburban Century 31. Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb, The Hidden Injuries of Class (New York, 1973), pp. 109–10. 32. Philip E. Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness: American Culture at the Breaking Point (Boston, 1970), pp. 74–5. 33. Ibid., p. 70. 34. H.B.M. Murphy, ‘Social change and mental health’, Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, 39/3, 1961, pp. 393, 408–9. 35. H.J. Gans, review of Gordon, Gordon and Gunther, The Split Level Trap, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 28/1, 1962, p. 48. 36. Ibid., p. 49. 37. S.A. Queen, ‘The ecological study of mental disorders’, American Sociological Review, 5/2, 1940, pp. 201–5. 38. C.W. Schroeder, ‘Mental health disorders in cities’, American Journal of Sociology, XLVIII/1, 1942, pp. 42–6. 39. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 396: Isabelle Shelton, ‘Her job is to banish new-town blues’, The Evening Star, 12 July 1963. 40. H.E. Bracey, Neighbours on New Estates and Subdivisions in England and the United States (London, 1964), p. 64. 41. Ibid., pp. 79, 81. 42. Ibid., pp. 80–1. 43. Ibid., p.64. 44. Ibid., p. 67. 45. David Popenoe, ‘Women in the suburban environment: A US-Sweden comparison’, in Gerda Wekerle, Rebecca Peterson and David Morley (eds), New Space for Women (Boulder, 1980), p. 170. 46. Bracey, Neighbours, pp. 12–14; 61. 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid., p. 13. 49. Ibid., p. 67. 50. See Chapter 2. 51. Michael Schaller, Virginia Scharf and Robert D. Schulzinger., Present Tense: The United States Since 1945 (Boston, 1996), pp. 405–6l; Clapson, Invincible, p. 125. 52. Veronica Strong-Boag, Isabel Dyck, Kim England and Louise Johnson, ‘What women’s spaces? Women in Australian, British, Canadian and US suburbs’, in Richard Harris and Peter Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs: Foundation, Form and Function (London, 1999), p. 177. 53. Suzanne Keller, ‘Women and children in a planned community’, in Suzanne Keller (ed.), Building for Women (Lexington, MA, 1981), pp. 70–4. 54. Edith M. Netter and Ruth G. Price, ‘Zoning and the nouveau poor’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 49/2, 1983, pp. 171–9. – 140 –

Women and Suburban Sadness 55. Daphne Spain, ‘The effect of changing household composition on neighbourhood satisfaction’, Urban Affairs Quarterly, 23/4, 1988, p. 583. 56. Schaller et al., Present Tense, p. 474. 57. Clare Cooper Marcus, House as a Mirror of Self: Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home (Berkeley, 1995), pp. 198–9. 58. Laurie Pickup, ‘Hard to get around: a study of women’s travel mobility’, in Jo Little, Linda Peake and Pat Richardson (eds), Women in Cities: Gender and the Urban Environment (London, 1988), pp. 100–1; Clapson, Invincible, p. 177; on Milton Keynes see Mervyn Dobbin, ‘Milton Keynes: the management of new town growth: a feminist perspective’, in Clapson, Dobbin and Waterman, Best Laid Plans, pp. 87–100. 59. Pat Thane, ‘Women since 1945’, in Paul Johnson (ed.), Twentieth Century Britain: Economic, Social and Cultural Change (London, 1994), p. 394. 60. Saegert, ‘Masculine cities’, p. 102. 61. Sylvia Fleis Fava, ‘Beyond suburbia’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 422, 1975, pp. 10, 15–16. 62. Strong-Boag et al., ‘What women’s spaces?’ , p. 178. 63. Clara Greed, Women and Planning: Creating Gendered Realities (London, 1994), p. 47. 64. Fava, ‘Beyond suburbia’, p. 22; Greed, Women and Planning, pp. 46–7; Strong-Boag et al., ‘What women’s spaces?’, p. 177.

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Suburban Century

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Suburban Citizens: Community and Association

–7– Suburban Citizens: Community and Association in the New Housing Areas of the Twentieth Century ‘And now you live dispersed on ribbon roads’, wrote T.S. Eliot in his 1930s poem The Rock, ‘and no man knows nor cares who is his neighbour’. Eliot, like many writers before him, and many since, despaired loftily of the absence of social life and community feeling in unplanned English suburbia, but his feeling was equally pertinent to the suburbs of the United States, the country of Eliot’s birth.1 Concern about the non-existent social life of the suburbs remained central to the anti-suburban critique. As the early post-war suburbs in the United States grew apace, writers feared that the tide of history was flooding toward a future of atomization. Alongside literature, sociology became a major professional site for concern about suburban ‘community’. Famously, William H. Whyte looked at the suburban environment of the ‘organization man’ in order to assess the quality of social activity there. The suburb under scrutiny was Park Forest, Chicago, full of young upwardly mobile corporate clerks and professionals. Whyte argued that Park Forest was symptomatic of the ‘new rootlessness’ of ‘the new package suburbs’ spreading across the country. Whyte was not the only one to study Park Forest. The American journal Architectural Record was impressed with the provision for social planning there and with the ‘social conscience’ of Philip M. Klutznick, its developer. Certainly, the schools, churches, community buildings, shops and utilities which served ‘the neighbourhood concept’ of Park Forest were not hidden under a bushel by Klutznick in the publicity for his suburban town.2 Hence the new housing development was more like a little new town than a pure suburb, because Park Forest was better provisioned than much contemporary tract suburbia.3 Whyte acknowledged the wisdom of providing such facilities, but he still felt that the community of Park Forest was not a healthy community, because the apparently active neighbouring and the busy associations were symptomatic of the ‘transient life’. They were merely extensions of the professional and competitive ethos of organization men and their families, a reflection not of genuine communal feelings but of instrumental values and strategies.4 Whyte also felt that true community was difficult in circumstances which were cut through by status competition and – 143 –

Suburban Century rivalry, a point made at much the same time by the Crestwood Heights study of suburban Canada.5 In the United States, the sociology of suburbia ‘almost exclusively concentrated on privately-developed owner-occupied housing estates’. In England during the 1950s, however, due to the growth of council housing, there was more of a proletarian focus in social investigations of suburbanization and its consequences for community.6 At the heart of this debate were Peter Willmott and Michael Young’s famous studies of London, namely Family and Kinship in East London (1957), and Family and Class in a London Suburb (1960). Michael Young had established the Institute for Community Studies in East London in 1954 with financial assistance from the Ford Foundation.7 Family and Kinship compared the warm, friendly, matriarchal communities typified by Bethnal Green in the East End of London with the colder, privatized suburban home: a gregarious East End culture was being assassinated by slum-clearance schemes or voluntary out-migration to a new house. The 1950s, then, was viewed by many at the time as a period of community erosion. Planners were blamed for creating desolate suburban estates. In equally negative terms, the English new towns were viewed as ‘ghettos’.8 These were not the ghettos of the economically impoverished, however, but of the socially and spiritually impoverished outcasts from traditional working-class life.9 In Family and Class in a London Suburb, by contrast, the findings were surprisingly optimistic. For Willmott and Young looked at the culture of associations and clubs of migrants to the suburbs, and observed that even those who did not belong to such formal groups usually belonged to a circle of friends. This was evidence of the social adaptability of the upwardly mobile suburbanite, many of whom had come from Bethnal Green.10 Yet even this was interpreted as proof of a growing rootlessness and individualism in England, and the United States was a convenient source of comparative reference. In a review of Family and Class, the sociologist Tosca Fyvel felt that greater adaptability was evidence of a historical weakening of working-class roots and collective ties as they encountered the social and economic conditions of middle-class suburbs. Hence Willmott and Young ‘miss the point’: Granted that this greater adaptability exists, at what cost has it been achieved? Is it also at the price of greater superficiality and guardedness in personal relations? Some important American sociologists strongly believe this.11

There is a wonderful irony in all this. For the decade of the 1950s, once viewed by contemporaries in terms of declining community and a growing rootlessness, because of suburbanization, is now currently regarded as some sort of golden age of community life. In his book The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America, Alan Ehrenhalt argues that the new tract suburbs of Chicago in the – 144 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association 1950s were in fact quite sociable and community-minded: ‘it is difficult to be quite as caustic about suburban values as social critics of the 1950s were at the time’.12 In England, a similar loss of community as a consequence of suburbanization has been identified for the post-war years. ‘Neighbours gossiped over garden fences and in pubs for at least an hour a day in the 1950s’, argue historians writing in a British newspaper. They then go on to argue that ‘poor neighbourhoods once had strong kinship, but now prosperity brings privacy’.13 In other words, then, as now, community and sociability are held to be in decline. As these quotes illustrate, many professional historians have viewed the social texture of the suburbs in terms of the loss of a truer community life. In the United States, for example, Sam Bass Warner and Kenneth T. Jackson have shared a common view that ‘the city’, with its teeming street life, was inherently more communally vibrant than the suburbs. This view has been influential upon later historians of suburbia.14 It is time, however, for a more optimistic perspective that shows how informal interaction and more formal associative activity filled the voids of new suburban housing areas.

From Pioneers to Neighbours: the United States The idea of suburbanites as ‘pioneers’, moving into virgin territory and settling down into homes and communities there, is a common thread in primary sources about new housing developments in North America. A local newspaper for Greenhills, Ohio, in the late 1930s, described how ‘eleven pioneering families’ put life into the earliest days of this New Deal greenbelt town.15 During the later 1940s, the sociologist Robert K. Merton used the same term. In his 1940s study of the working-class migrants to ‘Craftown’, a planned public-housing project of some seven hundred houses south-west of New York City, he made special mention of the pioneers, those most active in the formation and running of local resident organizations, and those who were actively sociable in nature.16 During the 1950s, movers to Park Forest likened their experience to that of earlier settlers on the Frontier, and referred to themselves as pioneers.17 Also during the 1950s, one writer in Harper’s Magazine described the social life in ‘the mass produced suburbs’ in terms of ‘rugged American collectivism’.18 Those who moved to the Levittowns of the 1950s also saw themselves as pioneers.19 Yet Herbert J. Gans’s study of The Levittowners did not use the term. Instead it described more or less everyone who moved from downtown or a rural area to the new Pennsylvanian suburb as ‘Settlers’ with a capital ‘S’. Gans, moreover, like Merton, was impressed with those more active citizens who engaged in formal and informal associational activities, and in frequent neighbouring. Sociological enquiries into the life of 1950s Canadian suburbs also used the same terms. A study of suburban Toronto argued that ‘the suburb had its pioneers – 145 –

Suburban Century and it had its share of collective efforts of settlement of various sorts’. In an earlier period, the argument went, the Canadian West had been settled by pioneers, and pioneers had built the Canadian city. Now pioneers from the cities were pushing the suburban frontier further into the country.20 Due South, just as the American West had once given way to the new frontier of the industrial city, so the cities of the United States were being expanded by suburbanites in search of new living territory. For a nation with a great frontier tradition, it is unsurprising that settlers in urban and suburban America have been viewed as pioneers. The frontier experience, however, was not simply based upon the rugged individualism beloved of Hollywood representations of the West. It was also an associative experience, and that associative impulse did not just die out when the frontier passed into history. Rather, the frontier experience forged ‘the American propensity for associative activity’ in its ongoing and outgoing forms.21 The impact of the closing of the Frontier during the 1890s, on the eve of the twentieth century, has been much discussed in American historiography. With no territory left to colonize, industrial towns and cities became America’s new frontier, and the rapidly expanding contexts for voluntary association.22 Women were at the heart of pioneer neighbouring in the new subdivisions. In the wilderness of the frontier, ‘women were active and important contributors to the process of settlement and civilisation’, hence they carried this organizing tradition into the cities of twentieth-century US.23 It was a tradition which found a favourable context in the early years of a subdivision’s life. Similarity of age and income, when allied to proximity by suburban residence, were encouraging contexts for neighbourliness. During the 1970s and since, the frontier and pioneering metaphor was still in existence, although its meaning had been augmented. The ‘metropolitantechnological frontier’ of the new post-1960s suburbs, and the ‘new frontier’ of the edge cities, were peopled with those who were moving into new housing and new subdivisions in decades of economic and technological change.24 All decades witness economic and technical innovations and change, but the considerable growth of suburban and post-suburban living since 1970 required new pioneers, new neighbours, new activists in the local and not-so-local networks of formal and informal associations.

From Pioneers to Neighbours: England The internal space of England has no frontier history. England’s expansionist frontier was the Empire. It is interesting to note that a 1930s study of new council estates in Bristol made a crude but effective comparison between the young settlers of municipal suburbia and settlers in the Empire. ‘In more senses than one’, it argued, ‘a new estate is like a colony’: – 146 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association The people settling down are young families; the population resembles that of the white population of Northern Rhodesia or of New Zealand in the early years of the twentieth century. This age composition colours all the activities and needs of the community.25

Nonetheless, between the wars the idea of the settlers of suburban England as internal pioneers was more pronounced than was the theme of colonists abroad. At Edgware in North London the ‘pioneers of social organizations’ soon emerged during the early years of the estate. They shared problems, for example the lack of amenities, and hostility or indifference from established locals. And they also shared the common experience of moving from older more dilapidated areas of London into a new place. That contributed toward a common sense of belonging which was channelled into the Watling Community Association and its hall.26 People on the huge new housing area of Wythenshawe in Manchester also saw themselves as makers of new conditions in new territory. One woman has since stated of the early days of Wythenshawe, ‘You were really pioneers . . . There were no shops, no schools . . . We had to walk to Northenden through the fields to the shops . . .’27 In the post-war years, the pioneering imagery was transferred to the experiences of the new towns. The domestic impact of the Blitz and its aftermath had also inserted itself into this imagery. In an evocative passage, one woman wrote of the feeling of escape from the war-damaged city to the uncertain world of the new towns. ‘After the war’, she wrote: we came in our marauding hundreds, like a stream of refugees from a beleaguered city. War-weary and harassed, we forsook our damp basements, draughty attics, and our cramped quarters shared with critical in-laws.28

And they made new neighbours and friends, and formed a wide range of more formal associations in these planned new communities.29 This was still true of a later generation of English new towns.30 The next part of the chapter assesses the development of the associative culture of suburbs during the inter-war and post-war years. It shows how a selective pattern of neighbouring and of associative action followed those earliest pioneering days. America is discussed first.

The Associative Culture of American Suburbs and New Towns Pioneering and neighbouring laid the groundwork for social connection in the early days of a new housing community. Those early days then gave way to the associative organization of suburban social life. To be sure, informal neighbouring and – 147 –

Suburban Century friendly relationships still continued, but the ongoing social life of the suburbs and new towns was clearly structured not only by neighbouring but also by associations, both formal and informal. These trends were first fully observed during the 1930s. A detailed study of Westchester, a suburb of New York, discovered key patterns in both formal and informal leisure and non-work activities. First, voluntary involvement in associations was higher in the middle-class area than in the more mixed or poorer parts of the suburb. Second, women were more active than men in both informal neighbouring and in more formal associations and clubs. Men’s propensity for neighbouring was reduced by the weekday separation between home and work. Their membership of organizations, however, was based at work and in the city as well as at home. A third factor observed by the Westchester study was that associations were opportunities not just for socializing but also for status advancement by the securing of a key organizing role. Fourth, people shared their leisure time according to interests, tastes and hobbies. Interests and tastes, then, ostensibly divided those who shared them from those who did not. Fifth, such differentiation, unsurprisingly, was also based upon class, gender, ethnicity, age and religion. There were women’s clubs, men’s clubs, youth clubs, and organizations who excluded poorer groups, Blacks and Jews.31 In the less well-off New Deal greentowns there was ample evidence of associational action based upon similar patterns. Some were shared between suburbs and the greentowns; others were specific to the greentowns. By the end of the 1930s, a considerable range of groups and clubs had been formed, admittedly often with the support and encouragement of the Community Manager, in order to pursue leisure interests, or to articulate needs and criticisms. The first tenants moved into Greenbelt in late September 1937. Just one month later the first town party was organized. On 6 November 1937 the Citizen’s Association was formed. Among other groups, it was soon followed by the formation of the Journalistic Club, the American Legion, the Bridge Club, the Girl Scout Troop, a Credit Union, a ParentTeacher Association, an Athletic Club, a Ladies’ Gymnasium Night, Woman’s Club, a Garden Club and the American Veteran’s Committee and a number of different religious groups. All of these bases for sociability and purposeful action had been formed by the end of November 1937.32 The other greentowns exhibited similar patterns of social formation. At Greendale, for example, the Community Manager reported in 1938, just two years into the life of Greendale, the existence of a wide range of clubs and groups within two years of the first tenants moving in.33 After the Second World War, the propensity for more combative associative action in the greentowns was amply demonstrated by the prospect of a rents rise as a consequence of the Public Housing Administration handing over ownership and control of Greenbelt to the Veteran’s Housing Corporation. As the Greenbelt – 148 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association Co-operator reported on 31 May 1951: ‘Rent protest group calls citizens to mass meeting at school tonight’. The group was comprised of representatives from a number of different organizations in the town, and it co-ordinated opposition to the ‘arbitrary raise’ in housing rents. And there was considerable opposition to coordinate, as was evident in the many, and often angry, letters of protest to the Office of Rent Stabilisation in 1951 and 1952.34 The protest about rents in 1950s Greenbelt revealed some important trends: while the new town had settled down into a largely sectional pattern of association, it was possible when required for such an important issue to mobilize general support across a range of people. Sociologists sought to identify the patterns of social formation in Greenbelt during its formative years. They emphasised the high early levels of participation in formal associations and in a wide range of informal local groups before the dissipation of such general activity into more selective sub-groups and organizations. For associations were not just about sociability or common action. They were also opportunities for status enhancement. Hence the most influential leaders of the most powerful organizations and group activities were usually the town officials themselves, that is the federal administrators, or they were drawn from the professional and business elites. Beneath these strata were the most articulate and socially skilled members of special-interest groups, and the mass of ‘ordinary clerical workers’ who belonged to one or more associations. The least involved in organizations were the unskilled manual workers’ households.35 William Form emphasized that the emerging social structure of Greenbelt was reflected in the hierarchy of local associations. Thus there was a developing exclusivity of associational belonging, which reflected the residential preferences of middle-class people who wished to live away from the homes of lower-income groups.36 As well as occupational and status considerations, religion could also be a bone of contention. For example, the growing Jewish community in Greenbelt gave rise to the organizational prominence of Jewish leaders, and in high levels of Jewish associational activity generally. This brought about some hostility from Gentiles in the town, as Jews were accused of ‘sticking together’ and ‘monopolising offices’.37 Greenbelt’s early history spanned the latter 1930s and the 1940s. It thus reflected wider patterns of social differentiation in social participation which carried through from the inter-war to the post-war years. These patterns were writ large in the towns and cities of the United States.38 Greenbelt was a planned community, however. A community manager was intended, in theory at least, to facilitate mixing between local citizens. So it was clear that such intentions from above were soon modified from below. Social division and cliquey associative action was simply endemic to the emerging social system in the new community of Greenbelt, and in that, neither Greenbelt nor any planned community was able to buck these major trends. – 149 –

Suburban Century Selectivity was also evident in less-planned or in unplanned new suburbs during the 1950s. This was evident from a number of small-scale studies, which found that a higher level of social and economic status engendered higher levels of voluntary action and associational membership. Education and income were great enablers.39 A further important point derives from this, for a couple of sociological studies argued that, if anything, the suburbs possessed higher levels of voluntarism and association than did non-suburban areas of the city. Sylvia Fleis Fava suggested in 1956 that ‘suburbanism’ itself, namely the way of life in the suburban context, with its dominance of nucleated families, its greater homogeneity than the city centre, its higher percentage of private homeowners, and its restricted opportunities for socializing in those city centres, did in fact encourage more neighbouring and ‘informal primary-type contacts’ in suburbs than elsewhere.40 In a comparison between the borough of Queens in New York city and the neighbouring suburban Nassau county, Fava found that residents in the new suburbs had higher levels of neighbouring than those in the longer-established urban district. Thus in alliance with a relative age- and income-homogeneity in the suburb as opposed to the city, the very fact of newness was a contributory factor. Thus Fava concluded that ‘the seeds of neighbouring, which survive even in the city, grow and flourish’ in the ‘suburban setting’.41 While he was more circumspect about the notion of a uniform suburban experience, Gans provided interesting detail on the pattern of community formation and social life in Levittown, a pattern which had similar characteristics to those observed by Form at Greenbelt and the other studies mentioned above.42 Gans noted that in the earliest months of the subdivision, there was a certain degree of common feeling and generally inclusive ‘joining in’. But he observed that once people had decided how they felt about their nearby neighbours, a ‘sorting process’ occurred. ‘Block cliques’ developed, with religion and ethnicity a key factor in both organization and exclusion. Jews were excluded from some clubs, but they formed their own institutions in addition to the synagogue, some of which reflected gender divisions within Judaism: Beth-Torah; a synagogue Sisterhood; Jewish women’s clubs; a B’nai B’rith lodge for men, and the fraternal organization B’rith Shalom. These were just some of the Jewish groups in Levittown.43 Many organizations, therefore, were gender-specific. A variety of women’s clubs and associations were independent of male influence, and ‘coffee-klatsches’ became a mainstay of female neighbouring. Children also helped to bring young women together. On the subdivisions of Columbus, Ohio during the later 1950s, Bracey observed that the need for help and advice with children ‘led to introductions and, subsequently, to greater friendliness’, a point he also observed for English new estates.44 Such help was not unqualified, however, for people assisted those they felt to be most like themselves. As a comparative piece of work on British and American – 150 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association suburbs showed, many suburbanites engaged a critical appraisal of other people’s ‘visible possessions’, such as the automobile or the type of furniture, in order to assess socio-economic standing.45 There was also sifting by status perception and educational attainment. The middle-class founders and members of the Women’s Club, for example, were reluctant to let working-class women in, lest they turned it into a ‘fire house’. Gender and class intersected: The total array of women’s groups offered the opportunity for extremely fine sorting. Well-educated women would be likely to find compatible people and activities in the American Association for University Women, the League of Women Voters, Great Books, or the Better Schools Committee . . .

Working-class women of Irish-American background stuck with such organizations as the ‘Alter and Rosary Society’ or joined up as wives to their husband’s workplace or leisure association.46 That latter point illustrates that working-class America lived a life with less participation in associations and groups than did white-collar workers. As Bennett M. Berger found in the working-class suburb of Milpitas, California, only a minority of workers belonged to formal organizations. Consequently, participation in civic life was low. However, Berger drew an important conclusion from this: any idea deriving from critics of suburbia that people were slavishly prone to joining associations, or pressured by peer groups to do so, was not sustainable. Like Gans, Berger also found that women were more likely to engage in informal neighbouring, and to join organizations such as the PTA, than men.47 The working-class suburbanite was not the sad, compulsive pseudo-neighbour discovered by William H. Whyte in Park Forest. Californian blue-collar suburbanites were not reluctantly sociable, nor were they going through the motions of social participation. Nor was there any great evidence that the people of Milpitas felt isolated and overly privatized. They kept up informal contacts with friends and relatives, and shared evenings-out in the bar or the bowling alley or wherever, but they did this largely when they chose to. Many men, moreover, belonged to a labour union. Beyond the workplace, therefore, it was left to a small core of joiners, most of them women, to form associations, go to church, organize committees, and so on.48 A later study of blue-collar suburbanites in Minneapolis, published in 1970, may be usefully compared with Berger’s findings. There were important contextual differences. For example, Berger’s cohort had been auto workers who had been moved to another part of the country, whereas the later study compared the city and suburb differentiation within the Minneapolis metropolitan area. Closer spatial links existed between city and suburb in the Minneapolis study. In Minneapolis, approximately 50 per cent of blue-collar workers had some sort of ‘organizational ties’, be they labour unions or leisure groups, in both the central – 151 –

Suburban Century district and the suburb. Yet levels of informal neighbouring and voluntary social participation in the neighbourhood were higher in the suburb than in the city. The younger age-profile of the suburb and the lower number of working wives, and thus the propensity of married suburban women to mix with each other and share leisure activities on a daily basis, were advanced as explanatory factors for this.49 Religion was also a major integrating force in the American suburbs. For the new suburban churches were built not simply for worship; they were important to suburban sociability in the United States, more so than in England. This point was emphasised by H.E. Bracey, who found American churches had higher levels of attendance and affiliation. A number of reasons may be advanced for this. First, Bracey noted the higher level of formal associational activity generally in the United States than in England. It is perhaps possible, therefore, to interpret American religiosity as but one element of an associative tradition which emanated from the pioneering tradition deriving from the frontier experience. Furthermore, the more vibrant religious culture of the United States may be seen as a consequence of the role of the Church in helping to assimilate the ‘new immigrants’, notably the Italian Catholics and the eastern and central European Jews, who had emigrated to the United States since the 1880s. These groups had been increasingly dispersing to the suburbs in the post-war period, as discussed in an earlier chapter. Other reasons were to do with the suburban churches themselves. Bracey observed that American churches were better equipped with educational and cultural resources than were English churches. He also noted the often ‘aggressively outgoing’ nature of some of the Protestant churches, and their proselytizing ethos.50 In the new town of Reston, similar patterns of association were in evidence during the 1960s and 1970s. However, as with the greenbelt towns, the process of social planning must be factored into any understanding of Reston’s successful community development. The founder of Reston, Robert E. Simon, devolved the task of developing social planning to Carol R. Lubin, as noted in the previous chapter. Lubin examined information from American and European experiments but she emphasized that any future programme of American new towns, not just Reston, should draw ‘the greatest possible benefit’ from the ‘large and valuable body of data’ which the British new towns had produced.51 She wished to evaluate the provision of amenities and recreational facilities in different new towns and housing developments. And she tried to understand how well community life had been established, and to identify the mechanisms that the new-town authorities had used to facilitate community. During 1962 and afterward, Lubin visited some English new towns. She was assisted by leading members of individual English new-town development corporations, and by leading professionals in social planning, for example by John – 152 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association Madge and by Sir George Haynes of the National Council of Social Services, and officials from new-town development corporations. Following a short trip to Harlow, she felt that provision for recreational activities in Harlow was quite generous, more so than in other English new towns she had visited. And in terms of the stimulation of community and social life, the grass roots of any social development policy in a new town, she was impressed by two things. One was the distribution of regularly updated ‘information material’ given to new tenants to enable them to settle in: ‘This type of information material should be copied by Reston’, she emphasized. And the other was the provision of community centres and common buildings for a variety of associations and social uses to grow and develop.52 In her 1962 notes on Stevenage, Lubin also paid close attention to the town centre, to the allocation of smaller local shopping areas, and to schools and churches in the neighbourhoods.53 Her general perceptions about English social planning were summarized in 1964. Various observations were made on the size and household composition of the towns being visited, and on ‘the subdivision into neighbourhoods’ of each town, and on: the appropriate size, number and location of schools, churches, social halls and other community institutions; and the design of town centres – all these items and more are examples of planning questions in which social factors are deeply and directly involved.54

Social planning materials at Reston demonstrated a general absorption of many impressions and lessons learned from the first generation of English new towns, and of the assistance to social interaction supplied from above. It is difficult to trace specific references to English practices beyond Lubin’s memoranda and the other little manuscripts that she typed, yet difficult also to doubt that English influences were involved. A great deal of emphasis was placed upon the promotion of residents’ associations to provide newcomers with information. More generally, the encouragement, American-style, of civic associations, and of groups that fostered a wide variety of interest-based groups and associations across the length and breadth of the town, was also paramount in the social planning of Reston, via the Reston Virginia Foundation for Community Programmes, Inc.55 And – in common with earlier applications of the neighbourhood unit in new towns – schools, community buildings and a range of convenient stores were all to play a key role in encouraging local identification and stimulating neighbourliness. To this end, the Reston Master Plan also proposed ‘village centres’, a number of different churches, and generous localized provision for sports and play. Community centres were provided from the outset, and some others were later built through private initiative and funding. During the first ten years of Reston, the most active citizens included a church leader who organized ‘the Common Ground Foundation’, which built a day-care – 153 –

Suburban Century centre, a coffee house, a ‘Friends of Reston and Herndon Libraries’ group, and a black woman teacher who helped young people to get jobs. A community newspaper, the Reston Times, was also in existence by 1966, in order to report upon local events, issues and problems. And a big problem was soon to rear its corporate head, notably the buying-out of Reston by Gulf Oil, and the dismissal of Robert E. Simon. A town-wide group was mobilized to articulate the opinions of Reston’s citizens. The Reston Community Association was formed by a group of ‘pioneers’ in 1967, and although it was largely led by educated middle-class professionals, it created considerable support in its engagement with Gulf Oil. It went on to negotiate key issues of concern to those who had recently moved to that or any other new community, for example planning and zoning decisions which affected the quality of the residential environment. There were also campaigns for better public transport and for a measure of provision for low-income housing, and also against the introduction of high-rise buildings because they would raise densities too much. There was also a struggle for a much-needed hospital. In addition to such common causes, however, the associative culture of Reston also reflected specific issues, and some conflicts. For example, there appears to have been some early jockeying for position between two Home-Owners’ associations, until one subsumed the other. And as Reston settled down, its inhabitants chose to pursue their own leisure interests and pastimes, aided greatly by the generous provision of sporting and recreational facilities.56 During the 1970s and 1980s, Reston’s early maturity was similar to that of both earlier new community experiments at a similar age of development, and to contemporary patterns of adjustment in new housing areas. Reston, moreover, appears to have successfully, although not without problems, gelled into a multidimensional community. Most people lived lives based at the village level, but they engaged with townwide issues. Their social lives were organized around many shared interests and activities, and structured by such variables as occupational class, educational attainment and ethnicity. Columbia and Reston, for example, had a number of thriving African American organizations.57 These included arts, music, theatre and anti-racist and affirmative action groups, who held regular meetings and produced newsletters or newspapers. The provision of facilities for such groupings, and the emphasis on ethnic inclusion in the new towns, was proof that social planning could assist in spontaneous group formation.58 Such general patterns of interest-based social connection, structured around the categories of ethnic grouping, gender and status groups, had to some extent been anticipated by Herbert J. Gans, in a 1963 paper on Reston.59 They also emerged during the 1960s and 1970s, in Forest Park, Ohio, which had grown from Greenhills, the greenbelt town. At Forest Park, however, such forms of identity and group-based action sometimes brought about a loss of an overall sense of townwide community.60 – 154 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association Wider social changes, furthermore, were impinging on American new towns as in the rest of urban America. Divorce rates continued to rise, and as non-marital conceptions rose also, there were more single-parent households in American society generally, and thus in the suburbs and new towns. Women were also taking paid employment in greater numbers. Social interaction, however, survived and even prospered on both formal and informal levels within these changing social and economic conditions. For example, a 1970s study of Twin Rivers, New Jersey found that childcare was still almost wholly undertaken by women, and that for many women who worked, sorting out the practicalities of childcare was a key issue, but it was not a defeating problem. Many women were pleased with the social opportunities offered by their suburban home. They felt there were ‘more activities’ and ‘new friends’ as a result of moving to Twin Rivers from the city. And in contrast to their parents, young women were ‘far less spatially confined, and drew upon a wide range of social connections.61 Women in paid employment thus engaged in both local and not-so-local networks, demonstrating that the associative society rested upon more than simply localism in order to function, but also proving that neighbours and friends remained important to women. Reston’s experience, again, was both relevant, and in some ways a lesson to be learned from. In 1988 Sylvia Fleis Fava, in correspondence with Robert E. Simon, following a visit she had made to Reston, argued that women generally preferred living in well-provisioned, middle-sized new suburbs, and that ‘Reston was ahead of its time in becoming this type of place. Many of the women I talked to commented on how easy it was to live in Reston and carry out their many nonhome-activities’.62 Bloom’s findings for Reston, and for the suburban new towns of Columbia in Maryland and Irvine in California, underline the truth of this view: a well-provisioned and amenity-rich environment ‘aided women’s participation in community life’ and encouraged women’s active and prominent involvement in political life, too. As Bloom emphasizes, however: Much of the same activity could be found in other suburbs and cities at the time, but the scale, ambition and success of women in the new towns over the decades remains striking.63

In general, then, we can see that women were going out to work, but enjoying a social life both local and more widely spread. This is an extremely important point: it revealed that suburban life was changing in tandem with social trends, without becoming socially neutralized. ‘Increasingly’, according to Veronica Strong-Boag, Isobel Dyck, Kim England and Louise Johnson: female suburbanites emerge as creative urban actors rather than merely victims of spatial structures: they actively attempt to re-negotiate ways of living, ‘the family’, and the need/desire for paid employment.

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Suburban Century Hence women in Canada and the United States continued to take the initiative in campaigns to create ‘safe’ spaces and streets for women and children. They also maintained, especially in poorer areas, local networks of mutual help for childrearing among busy working women.64 In this, they were but one set of citizens within the heterogeneous city, choosing to interact with people personally on a neighbourly basis, and to communicate with friends, families and associates living elsewhere. Any pessimistic view that ‘community’ was in decline is mistaken, because community, as the American urban theorist Melvin Webber argued, could exist and did exist ‘without propinquity’.65 Other scholars have made similar points. ‘Spatial distributions’ were rarely confined to a single locality: people lived and worked within patterns of networks that stretched over short and longer distances.66

The Associative Culture of English Suburbs and New Towns As in the United States, inter-war social investigations in England provide many insights into the evolution of the social life of suburbs following the initial period of pioneering and early neighbouring. In England, as in North America, the early and higher levels of neighbouring and general social interaction suburbs settled down to a social life structured by a variety of formal and informal associations. This was true for both working-class and middle-class suburbs. It can also be observed in new towns. Ruth Durant’s study of Watling discovered some early reticence among the new strangers, because everyone was a stranger. Following this, there was a flowering of ‘local patriotism’ engendered by the hostility of the original people in the area, and also by the lack of facilities. A community association was formed to agitate for a community centre. Once the centre was built, however, it settled down into a meeting place not for simply estate-wide mobilizations but for other smaller associations and groups. These included a Loans Club, a horticultural society, sports and athletics clubs, political-party meetings, religious groups, a Woman’s Cooperative Group and a host of other associations.67 As the think-tank Political and Economic Planning (PEP) argued, in their early post-war study of Watling, ‘this new one-class community of “strangers” has brought into existence about seventy self-governing associations’. PEP also described the women’s societies and associations as the ‘mainstay of local corporate life’.68 Similar developments occurred on other suburban new estates between the wars.69 They also occurred after the war. For example, in the northern council estate of ‘Boltwood’, a ‘tenant’s association’ had been formed in 1948, early in the estates history, when the estate was bereft of shops, a doctor’s surgery, a post office and public transport. Its leading activists were skilled manual workers.

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Suburban Citizens: Community and Association The civic functions and the problem-solving role of the tenant’s association, which was based in Boltwood Community Centre, soon began to diminish as attendances at meetings dropped, and as the rooms at the centre became increasingly used for leisure activities. Those activities were influenced by and organized around status group, class, gender, age and interests. These certainly brought groups of people together, but not within an all-embracing community spirit. For example, by 1954 there was a Ladies Section comprised of ‘twenty respectable women’, and an Old Age Pensioner’s Association was formed in 1955. And any estate-wide activity by the community association ‘became hinged on two gambling activities, namely the football pools and the estate’s tombola’. This was a development which would have alienated anti-gamblers living locally.70 This sequential pattern of early generalized activity followed by a more diverse associative culture was replicated further south, in Oxford, the famous university town. Beyond the colleges, however, Oxford has a working-class history, too. The sociologist J.M. Mogey found that in the new council estate of Barton tenants had been active in bringing together residents in the early months of community formation. Yet with the maturation of the estate, people soon began to join voluntary associations and groups, whether religious, political, charitable and philanthropic, or, more commonly, sporting and recreational clubs and teams, many of which were based in facilities located elsewhere in Oxford. About 40 per cent of Barton were involved in associative activities, compared with only 10 per cent in St Ebbe’s, the poor area of central Oxford whence many Barton residents had come. Mogey argued that this figure reflected ‘the signs of a different social outlook in Barton’ when compared to St Ebbes: [Barton] is in fact not a localised society nor do its inhabitants feel loyal to an isolating set of social customs. The inhabitants of Barton have lost their ties to a neighbourhood and gained in return citizenship in the wider and freer atmosphere of the varied associational life of a city.71

Mogey was not alone in this view. Other sociologists argued that instead of focusing on neighbourliness, sociology should be casting its nets wider in order to investigate the interest groups and associations of contemporary suburban and urban life.72 During the 1960s, an important sociological study of ‘affluent workers’ in the southern town of Luton, in Bedfordshire, thus observed the varied associational life of the English working classes, and of the lower middle class. The character of the associations observed by the Luton study fell into two groups, groups which reflected both class divisions and social connections based upon choice and shared interests. Some associations were wholly working-class, such as working men’s clubs, angling clubs, allotment societies, British Legion clubs, pigeon clubs,

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Suburban Century local football clubs, weightlifting and body-building clubs, and council tenant’s associations. White-collar workers, however, and the lower middle classes more generally, tended to belong to the Freemasons, the Conservative Club, golf clubs, flying clubs, sailing clubs, and the school PTAs. There was a smattering of social mix, but not much, in such associations as the cricket club, secondary modern school PTAs, the Townswomen’s Guild, and gardening clubs.73 During the 1950s and 1960s the new towns manifested similar patterns of early social formation. Oral and autobiographical evidence details the early friendliness and neighbourliness of the newcomers, the essential basis for the efforts of a minority of pioneers to form resident’s associations, to get a community newspaper going, and to campaign for better local transport and amenities.74 Headed by unelected Development Corporations, furthermore, new towns posed a particular problem for local democracy. Hence the appearance and actions of resident’s groups, campaigning for community facilities, was corrective action from below when the corporations failed to deliver on key aspects of social planning.75 This occurred in Milton Keynes. In common with Reston, a woman was given the major responsibility for thinking about social needs in Milton Keynes. Suzanne Beauchamp worked for Llewelyn Davies et al. on ‘social development’ and, in both MKDC materials and her own writings, she closely related social development with housing provision, with community facilities and with environmental design considerations. And like Reston, Milton Keynes was to be a ‘balanced community’, a town containing a representative social mix of the country. A basic aim was to avoid the one-class, as in working-class, composition that had developed within the early post-war new towns.76 As Beauchamp has subsequently argued, in a 1998 paper looking back at her role and at the planning of Milton Keynes in the latter 1960s, ‘the Milton Keynes planning team had the valuable advantage of being able to draw on the experience of earlier new towns’.77 Social development in Milton Keynes emphasized the initial role of welcoming information and of arrivals’ workers in helping newcomers to settle in to their new houses and into their new communities. Social development also emphasized the provision of social institutions: health, education, social services, churches, recreation and leisure provision, as well as ‘activity centres’, the Milton Keynes equivalent of the village centres in Reston. Considerable emphasis was placed upon parks, lakes and sporting arenas, and on indoor facilities, to bring people together around shared interests and enthusiasms.78 Yet the fact that they were called ‘activity centres’ rather than neighbourhood or village centres, exposes a key difference between the social planning of Reston and the social development programme in Milton Keynes. Whereas Reston’s villages were designed to encourage identification with neighbourhood, the planners of Milton Keynes were not too bothered with the idea of neighbourhood. – 158 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association The word is hardly, if ever, used in the two-volume Plan for Milton Keynes (1970). Certainly, a level of meaningful social connection and neighbourliness was both encouraged and envisaged at the micro-level, but it was privileged to a lesser degree than in Reston. The planners saw the city in terms of a wider network of formal and informal, primary and secondary, near and far relationships. These were relationships based primarily upon interests and voluntary associations, rather than on the convenience of proximity. Melvin Webber briefed MKDC in the later 1960s. His views about ‘community without propinquity’ and the ‘non-place urban realm’ were based upon his understanding that the telephone and telecommunications enabled rapid interaction over distances. The motor car also encouraged greater mobility and individualism, and more choice in opportunities for sociability. Webber saw voluntary association as a basis for social connection, although he did not – and this is an important point – rule out the contribution of neighbourly relations and local community as a basis for interaction. Local proximity was a force for bringing people together, but not the only force.79 Webber’s influence on the planning of Milton Keynes can thus be interpreted in terms of ‘community liberated’ rather than ‘community lost’. The latter viewpoint harks back to a mythical organic notion of bucolic Gemeinschaft, while the former perspective recognizes the growing range of opportunities which encourage sociability and interaction based upon choice rather than obligation.80 The planners of Milton Keynes devised a city which would encourage mobility through the use of the motor car and telecommunications. They were also aware that social change and social connection were fluid and ongoing entities. ‘All towns generate interest groups’, argued MKDC: which grow, coalesce, fade away, and redirect themselves over time. Milton Keynes will be no exception and such groups will do much to bring together and provide focuses of activity, amusement and interaction.81

This anticipated scenario was not far wrong, and it evidenced some key similarities with contemporary new communities in the United States during and since the 1960s. Early migrants to Milton Keynes were encouraged by ‘arrivals’ workers’ to meet their neighbours in the local community houses.82 Residents’ newspapers were formed, and campaigns were begun for improved local amenities, including better public transport, community facilities, childcare support, and a new hospital. The long and difficult campaign for a hospital was led by women. It united people from across the city, and from a diverse range of occupations and from different ethnic groups. It demonstrated, as had the Gulf Oil campaign at Reston, that when generalized or non-sectional action was required, it could be found. Women were also involved in smaller, more estate-based struggles during the 1970s and since. These included the preservation of local community centres in the – 159 –

Suburban Century face of financial cutbacks, centres used for a variety of differing activities, such as Job Search, Money Advice meetings, a child abuse clinic, a ‘budget lunch’ club, and so on. These were of inestimable use to women who needed ancillary support in child raising. It was also women on estates who campaigned to get safety bollards built to protect children from cars at dangerous road–pavement interchanges.83 Similar examples of proactive localism were replicated in suburbs around the country.84 Here were those ‘creative urban actors’ referred to above. As in the United States, the planned suburban new town facilitated women’s social action. Such action, however, was by no means absent on the outskirts of traditional towns.

Conclusion Worries about the decline of community are currently fashionable, in both the United States and England, and suburbia is blamed. According to the American broadcaster and writer Ray Suarez, ‘the old neighbourhood’ of the American city was ‘what we lost in the great suburban migration’.85 The sociologist Robert Putnam attacks suburbia and its culture of ‘mobility and sprawl’ for undermining the vitals of a local and meaningful city life.86 In England, the conservative journalist Peter Hitchens has recently dismissed suburbs as places of isolation, and of remoteness from a truly urban life. And with an almost mystic conception of the past, he laments the ‘clean solitude’ of suburbia as opposed to an older English town life, full of parsons, clannish working-class folk and friendly shopkeepers.87 Those writers, however, have no monopoly in appraisals of suburban life. In England during the mid-1990s, such a seasoned observer of post-war England as Richard Hoggart summarized ‘the way we live now’ by arguing that neighbourliness ‘survives among middle-class as much as in working-class people’: Nowadays its remarkable continuance is based more on the sense that an on the whole an agreeable style of life is not likely to be overturned by riot, revolution or invasion and is well worth keeping. It is also the single most sustaining communal practice in English society, in both admirable and pettifogging ways. The window-watching, curtaintwitching neighbour lives on, was never a comic fiction. Yet on balance neighbourliness is more helpful than harmful.

Hoggart went on to mention the voluntary work and the leisure activities which brought people together beyond the immediate locality.88 And all of this in a society which was dominated by suburban living, and in whose suburbs and new towns considerable social changes had occurred since Hoggart first observed English life during the 1950s. – 160 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association In the United States, Amitai Etzioni, an advocate of a greater communitarian consciousness and action in society, claims that suburbanization has done nothing to erode the propensity of Americans to become socially responsible and active in their localities. Etzioni’s message is that the United States deserves, and should acquire, a higher level of civic consciousness, and an enhanced culture of voluntary community action and social responsibility. He discerns small town values in many suburbs, and a growing sense of longing for those values among millions of Americans. Therefore, ‘as a rule the movement to the suburbs has enhanced the Communitarian nexus’.89 Alan Wolfe’s sociology of 1990s ‘Middle America’ came to similarly important and optimistic conclusions. Wolfe argued that although many comfortably-off people felt there was not enough community spirit, any notions about community decline failed to address some key realities. Wolfe found that some people he spoke with felt that there was little community feeling in the suburb where they lived; they were too busy working, making money, living lives more private than public. Yet when Wolfe probed deeper, and asked people about their organizational and club membership, there was in fact a high degree of it. Many people who stated that they did not belong to any clubs or organizations actually belonged to at least one small and informal group. Middle-class Americans belonged to at least one, and sometimes two or more associations or organizations. Moreover, membership of larger organizations had remained high into the 1990s. These groups included the Masons, the NAACP, Rotary Clubs, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Red Cross and the American Association of University Women. Big causes and shared interests still united people. Women were still active, too, in local organizations. Wolfe highlighted the ‘soccer moms’, the ‘civically-active suburban women’ and their contribution to PTAs. Also thriving in American towns and cities were ‘church-related’, ‘work-related’ and ‘social-fraternal’ groups. Neighbourliness persisted, alongside a variety of social and kinship relationships which were less local, but nonetheless meaningful.90 Writers who interpret community in terms of decline are thus guilty of a failure of synthesis. They have failed to understand ‘community’ in flexible ways. For as Etzioni, Hoggart and Wolfe understood, the society of the 1990s was in many respects different from that of the 1950s. Socially it was more fluid. Economically, it was more prosperous. And in terms of technology and interpersonal communications, it offered more varied possibilities for social connection. Hence during the 1990s the telephone was almost universally used. The internet was beginning its ascendancy to similar universality. Conversations over mobile phones could be overheard on streets, in cafés and bars, and on public transport. All of these things cost money, but their popular usage raised a big question mark for the idea that prosperity led to an overweening privacy. Rather, prosperity provided new contexts for community and sociability, with or without propinquity. – 161 –

Suburban Century Beyond the technological realms of communication, moreover, Melvin Webber was proved right in another way. In thousands of suburban neighbourhoods, and in the planned post-war new communities, people still chose to become neighbours if they wanted to. Coffee mornings, the meetings downtown or at the shops, the barbecue in the garden, an evening drinking down the local bar or pub: these were just some of the unquantifiable number of ongoing friendly activities which continued to occur within the suburbs. This should come as no surprise, because suburban sociability was simply the collective needs and aspirations of humanity, writ large.

Notes 1. Kate Flint, ‘Fictional suburbia’, Literature and History, 8/1, 1982, pp. 67–80; see also the fine chapter by Alan Gilbert, ‘The roots of anti-suburbanism in Australia’, in S.L. Goldberg and F.B. Smith (eds), Australian Cultural History (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 38–9, which includes some English writers. 2. Anon., ‘Park Forest, Illinois’, Architectural Record, 109/3, 1951, pp. 95–110. 3. William H. Whyte, The Organisation Man (Harmondsworth, 1965). 4. Ibid., pp. 258–74. 5. J.R. Seeley, R.A. Sim and E.W. Loosley, Crestwood Heights: A Study of the Culture of Suburban Life (New York, 1958). 6. J. Darke and R. Darke, Suburban Housing Estates: Social Composition and Social Characteristics (London: Centre for Environmental Studies, Working Paper 40, 1969), p. 8. 7. Nick Tiratsoo and Mark Clapson, ‘The Ford Foundation and social planning in Britain: the case of the Institute of Community Studies and Family and Kinship in East London’, in Giuliana Gemelli (ed.), American Foundations and Large-Scale Research: Construction and Transfer of Knowledge (Bologna, 2001), pp. 201–18. 8. Geoffrey Gibson, ‘New town ghettos’, Socialist Commentary, April 1954, pp. 12–14; Michael Young, ‘Must we abandon our cities?’, Socialist Commentary, September, 1954, pp. 251–3. 9. William Small, ‘Jumping on the bandwagon’, Town and Country Planning, XXVII/6, 1959, pp. 249–50. 10. Peter Willmott and Michael Young, Family and Class in a London Suburb (London, 1960), pp. 87–110. 11. T.R. Fyvel, ‘Thoughts about suburbia’, Socialist Commentary, January 1961, p. 22. – 162 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association 12. Alan Ehrenhalt, The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America (New York, 1995), p. 216. 13. Senay Boztas, ‘Working Britons don’t even know their neighbours’, Sunday Times, 5 March 2000. 14. For example, see Wendy Plotkin, 1998 Roundtable debates on Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: [email protected]. 15. Lansill/UKlib/65M19/Greenhills: Anon., ‘Eleven pioneering families put life into Greenhills’, Cincinnati Post, 1 April 1938. 16. Robert K. Merton, ‘Selected problems of fieldwork in the planned community’, American Sociological Review, 12/3, 1947, p. 311. 17. Whyte, Organisation Man, pp. 258, 264. 18. Harry Henderson, ‘Rugged American collectivism: the mass-produced suburbs’, Harper’s Magazine, December 1953, pp. 80–6. 19. Rosalyn Baxandall and Elizabeth Ewen, Picture Windows: How the Suburbs Happened (New York, 2000), p. xvii. 20. S.D. Clark, The Suburban Society (Toronto, 1970), pp. 24–25; see also Seeley et al., Crestwood Heights, p. 12. 21. Carl N. Degler, Out of Our Past: The Forces That Shaped Modern America (New York, 1985), p. 138. 22. Mirra Komarovsky, ‘The voluntary associations of urban dwellers’, American Sociological Review, 11/6, 1946, pp. 686–7. 23. Carl N. Degler, ‘Revolution without ideology: the changing place of women in America’, in Robert Jay Lifton (ed.), The Woman in America (Boston, MA, 1965), p. 195; Baxandall and Ewen, Picture Windows, pp. 152–7. 24. The term ‘metropolitan-technological frontier’ is Daniel J. Elazar’s in ‘Suburbanisation: reviving the town on the metropolitan frontier’, Publius, 5/1, 1975, p. 53; the subtitle of Garreau’s Edge City is ‘life on the new frontier’; see also Andrew E.G. Jonas, ‘Making edge city: post-suburban development and life on the frontier in Southern California’, in Richard Harris and Peter J. Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs: Foundation, Form and Function (London, 1999), pp. 202–21. 25. Rosamond Jevons and John Madge, Housing Estates: A Study of Bristol Corporation Policy and Practice Between the Wars (Bristol, 1946), p. [required] 26. Ruth Durant, Watling: A Survey of Social Life on a New Housing Estate (London, 1939), pp. 23–31. 27. Ann Hughes and Karen Hunt, ‘A culture transformed? Women’s lives in Wythenshawe in the 1930s’, in Andrew Davies and Steven Fielding (eds), Workers’ Worlds: Cultures and Communities in Manchester and Salford, 1880–1939 (Manchester, 1992), p. 85. 28. E. Harvey, ‘The post-war pioneers’, Town and Country Planning, 41/9, 1973, p. 417. – 163 –

Suburban Century 29. Huw Rees and Connie Rees, The History Makers: The Story of the Early Days of Stevenage New Town (Stevenage, 1991), pp. 50–112. 30. Jane Turner and Bob Jardine, Pioneer Tales: A New Life in Milton Keynes (Milton Keynes, 1985). 31. G.A. Lundberg, Mirra Komarovsky and Mary Alice McInerny, Leisure: A Suburban Study (New York, 1934), pp. 126–69, 253–306. 32. National Archives/Record Group 196: Records of the Public Housing Administration; Histories of the Greentown Projects, 1938; Greenbelt Project History, Vol. 2: Wallace Richards, ‘Summary Chronological History of Greenbelt Project, Greenbelt, Maryland; section VIII’ (February 1938), pp. 6–7; NA/ RG196, Records of the Public Housing Administration; Subject Files of the Greenbelt, MD, Community Manager, 1936–1953: ‘List of organizations – January 28, 1948’. 33. NA/RG 196: Records of the Public Housing Administrator; Records Relating to the Greentown Programme: Sherwood L. Reeder, ‘A report on the first two years of the Greendale Community’ (1940). 34. NA/RG 196: Records of the Public Housing Administration; Subject Files of the Greenbelt, MD, Community Manager, 1936–1953: ‘Letters of protest to Office of Rent Stabilisation’. 35. William H. Form, ‘Status stratification in a planned community’, American Sociological Review, 10/5, 1945, pp. 609–10. 36. William H. Form, ‘Stratification in low- and middle-income housing areas’, Journal of Social Issues, 7/1 and 2, 1951, pp. 122–30. 37. Form, ‘Status stratification’, p. 610. 38. See for example Morris Axelrod, ‘Urban structure and social participation’, American Sociological Review, 21/1, 1956, pp. 15–16. 39. Walter T. Martin, ‘A consideration of differences in the extent and location of the formal associational activities of rural–urban fringe residents’, American Sociological Review, 17/6, 1952, p. 693; Leonard Reissman, ‘Class, leisure and social participation’, American Sociological Review, 19/1, 1954, pp. 77, 83; John C. Scott, ‘Membership and participation in voluntary associations’, American Sociological Review, 22/3, 1957, pp. 320, 323. 40. Sylvia Fleis Fava, ‘Suburbanism as a way of life’, American Sociological Review, 21/1, 1956, pp. 34–7. 41. Sylvia Fleis Fava, ‘Contrasts in neighbouring: New York City and a suburban county’, in William M. Dobriner (ed.), The Suburban Community (New York, 1958), p. 129. 42. Herbert J. Gans, The Levittowners: Ways of Life and Politics in a New Suburban Community (London, 1967), pp. 44–67. 43. Ibid, pp. 53, 61–3; 73. 44. H.E. Bracey, Neighbours on New Estates and Subdivisions in England and the United States (London, 1964), p. 118. – 164 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association 45. J. Darke and R. Darke, Physical and Social Factors in Neighbour Relations (London: Centre for Environmental Studies, Working Paper 41, 1969), p. 27. 46. Gans, The Levittowners, p. 61. 47. Bennett M. Berger, Working-Class Suburb: A Study of Auto Workers in Suburbia (Berkeley, 1968), pp. 54–62. 48. Ibid., pp. 60–70. 49. Irving Tallman and Ramona Morgner, ‘Lifestyle differences among urban and suburban blue-collar families’, Social Forces, 48/3, 1970, pp. 334–9. 50. Bracey, Neighbours, pp. 148–69. 51. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 504: Carol R. Lubin, Notes on Social Planning in the British New Towns (25 June 1964). 52. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 504: Memo to files, Carol R. Lubin, (13 June 1962), New towns in England (Harlow), emphasis in original. See also Memo to files, Carol R. Lubin, 13 June 1962, New Town in England, which contains a summary of her discussion with Sir George Haynes. 53. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 504: Carol R. Lubin, Stevanage [sic] (14 June 1962). 54. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 504: Carol R. Lubin, Notes on Social Planning in the British New Towns (25 June 1964). See also PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 186: Carol R. Lubin, ‘Community planning at Reston’, in The Washington Centre for Metropolitan Studies, Reston: A Study of Beginnings, Vol. 2, Appendix (draft m.s. September 1996). 55. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 19: The Reston Virginia Foundation for Community Programmes, Inc., Social Planning and Programmes for Reston, Virginia (Reston: The Reston Virginia Foundation for Community Programmes, Inc., 1967). 56. This discussion is based upon Dan Watt, Tom Grubisch and Peter McCandless, Reston: The First Twenty Years (Reston, VA, 1985), pp. 55–74, and Carlos C. Campbell, New Towns: Another Way to Live (Reston, VA, 1976), pp. 29–86. 57. Nan Netherton, Reston: A New Town in the Old Dominion (Norfolk, VA, 1989), p. 164. 58. Nicholas Dagen Bloom, Suburban Alchemy: 1960s New Towns and the Transformation of the American Dream (Columbus, OH: 2001), pp. 187–89, 198– 201. 59. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 447: Herbert J. Gans, ‘Some Proposals for Research in Reston’ (Washington, draft m.s. 22 June 1963), pp. 23–4. 60. Zane L. Miller, Suburb: Neighbourhood and Community in Forest Park, Ohio, 1935–1976 (Knoxville, 1981), pp. 203–44. 61. Suzanne Keller, ‘Women and children in a planned community’, in Suzanne Keller (ed.), Building for Women (Lexington, 1981), pp. 68, 71. 62. PCA/SCA/GMU/Box 274: letter from Sylvia F. Fava to Robert E. Simon, 29 July 1988. – 165 –

Suburban Century 63. Bloom, Suburban Alchemy, pp. 210–22; quote p. 222. 64. Veronica Strong-Boag, Isabel Dyck, Kim England and Louise Johnson, ‘What women’s spaces? Women in Australian, British, Canadian and US Suburbs’, in Harris and Larkham (eds), Changing Suburbs, pp. 168–80. 65. Philip Steadman, ‘Telecommunications and cities since 1840’, in Gerrylynn K. Roberts and Philip Steadman, American Cities and Technology: Wilderness to Wired City (London, 1999), p. 234. 66. Barry Wellman and Barry Leighton, ‘Networks, neighbourhoods and communities: approaches to the study of the community question’, Urban Affairs Quarterly, 14/3, 1979, pp. 364, 367, 380; Darke, Suburban Housing Estates, p. 41. 67. Durant, Watling, pp. 22–45. 68. Political and Economic Planning, ‘Watling Revisited’, Planning, 14/270, 1947, pp. 68–9. 69. Ernest Barker, ‘Community centres and the uses of leisure’, Adult Education, 11/1, 1939, pp. 36–48. 70. Norman Dennis, ‘Changes in function and leadership renewal: a study of the community associations movement and problems of small groups in the urban locality’, Sociological Review (New Series), 9/1, 1961, pp. 58–79. 71. J.M. Mogey, Family and Neighbourhood: Two Studies of Oxford (Oxford, 1956), p. 156; emphasis added. 72. Norman Dennis, ‘The popularity of the neighbourhood community idea’, in R.E. Pahl (ed.), Readings in Urban Sociology (Oxford, 1969), pp. 77–92. 73. John H. Goldthorpe, David Lockwood, Frank Bechhofer and Jennifer Platt, The Affluent Worker in the Class Structure (London, 1969), pp.110–11, 198. 74. For example, Peter Lucas, Basildon: Behind the Headlines (Basildon, 1985), pp. 57, 60; Rees (eds), The History Makers, pp. 49–57. 75. Andrew Homer, ‘Administration and Social Change in the Postwar British New Towns: A Case Study of Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead, 1946–70’, (Luton, 1999), pp.101–82. 76. Milton Keynes Development Corporation, The Plan for Milton Keynes (Vol. 2), (Milton Keynes, 1970), pp. 127–8. 77. Suzanne Beauchamp de Monchaux, ‘Best Laid Plans’, in Mark Clapson, Mervyn Dobbin and Peter Waterman (eds), The Best Laid Plans: Milton Keynes Since 1967 (Luton, 1998), p. 74. 78. Suzanne Beauchamp, ‘Social development’ (1969), republished in Clapson et al. (eds), Best Laid Plans, pp. 59–69. 79. Mark Clapson, ‘Technology, social change and the planning of a post-industrial city: a case study of Milton Keynes’, in David Goodman and Colin Chant (eds), European Cities and Technology: Industrial to Post-Industrial City (London, 1999), pp. 287–9. – 166 –

Suburban Citizens: Community and Association 80. Wellman and Leighton, ‘Networks’, p. 380. 81. Llewelyn-Davies, Weeks, Forestier-Walker and Bor, Milton Keynes: Interim Report (Milton Keynes, 1968), p. 141. 82. Leo Walsh, ‘The silent majority arrives’, Architectural Design, XLV, 1975, p. 754. 83. Mark Clapson, Invincible Green Suburbs, Brave New Towns: Social Change and Urban Dispersal in Postwar England (Manchester, 1998), pp. 175–85. 84. Beatrix Campbell, Goliath: Britain’s Dangerous Places (London, 1995), pp. 226–53. 85. Ray Suarez, The Old Neighbourhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration 1966 to 1999 (New York, 1999). 86. Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York, 2001), pp. 204–15. 87. Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain (London, 2000), pp. xxvi–xxvii, 96–105. 88. Richard Hoggart, The Way We Live Now (London, 1996), pp. 329–30. 89. Amitai Etzioni, The Spirit of Community: Rights, Responsibilities and the Communitarian Agenda (London, 1995), p. 121. 90. Alan Wolfe, One Nation, After All (New York, 1999), pp. 250–63.

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The Middle Way

–8– The Middle Way: Labour, the Democrats and the Suburbs since 1950 The political conservatism of ‘the suburbs’ is a persistent and pervasive orthodoxy. An English local historian, writing during the 1970s, argued that ‘as predominantly middle-class areas the suburbs cast considerable light on the structure of right wing politics’.1 The Penguin Historical Atlas of North America emphasizes the ‘proverbial’ selfishness of American suburbanites and their politics.2 The independence of some suburban governments in the United States, and their attempts to conserve the white middle-class character of their subdivisions, contributed powerfully to the image of a reactionary suburbia.3 To some extent, then, some American suburbanites engendered their own bad reputation. Hence cultural critics, notably, usually dismiss the suburbs as conservative and conformist at best, apathetic at worst.4 In 1997, for example, writing in the English newspaper The Guardian, Homi Bhabha lashed out at American suburbs, erroneously claiming them to be the bastion of a white, conservative mainstream culture. This article, since republished in a British cultural-studies reader on suburbia was, by implication, also pertinent to England.5 The influence of this one-dimensional view of suburban politics stems in large part from debates among political commentators and sociologists during the 1950s and the 1980s. As Stuart Blumin has argued, ‘it is often noted that the 1980s resemble the 1950s in their political conservatism’ and that the suburbs were the major terrain of this conservative mentality.6 The 1950s appeared to be suffused with suburban conservatism and conformity, in both England and the United States. As large swathes of affluent workers became increasingly suburbanized, it was feared by Labour intellectuals in England, and by liberals in the United States, that they were becoming more middle-class in terms of lifestyle and consumption patterns, that is, more individuated, privatized and materialistic. This would take, it was feared, an obviously heavy toll on collective loyalties to Labour or the Democrats. A very similar interpretation emerged in response to perceived voting patterns during the 1980s. In England, a conservatism strongly identified with Margaret Thatcher won the general elections of 1979, 1983 and 1987. She was Conservative Member of Parliament for the borough of Barnet, in North London, which possessed

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Suburban Century a large suburban constituency. In the United States, Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party was resoundingly successful in two presidential elections, and in 1988 the Republicans under George Bush comfortably defeated the Democrats. Again, the Left in both countries focused upon the suburban middle classes, and the affluent working classes in the new suburbs, as the broad constituencies that they had lost. It was to these suburban sections of the electorate, therefore, that both the Democrats and the Labour Party turned their attention. Their eventual electoral triumphs in the 1990s were based upon the correct strategy that playing to the values and aspirations of suburban Middle England and suburban Middle America was the key to success.

Labour and the Suburbs in 1950s England At the end of the Second World War, a Labour Government was elected to power with a large parliamentary majority of 146 seats. The Left in Britain welcomed this as the possible dawn of a new utopia, a promised land of greater equality based upon progressive taxation to fund the new welfare state. This redistribution of wealth would be underpinned by full employment. Furthermore, the razing of the slums and the anticipated construction of millions of new houses, in council estates and in the new-towns programme, were to be central to the improvement of the living standards, and the morale, of the nation. While Labour’s health and socialsecurity measures were quite efficiently bolted into place, it is now a matter of agreement among historians that the housing programme from 1945–51 began slowly.7 In 1951, the Tories took power from Labour, and they subsequently increased their parliamentary majority in the general election of 1955. In part, the Conservative Party’s success was due to its promise that it would build more houses than Labour. This was accomplished by increasing the number of privately-built houses for owner occupation as opposed to council-built houses for rent, but construction in both housing sectors increased during the 1950s, and new housing estates grew up around the fringes of existing towns.8 The new-towns programme was also well under way by then. In the wake of those two Conservative election victories, and during a decade of considerable economic growth resulting from the post-war boom, political scientists and commentators from a variety of differing shades of the political spectrum toured through the suburban political landscape during the second half of the 1950s. With considerable uniformity of judgement, they declared that this landscape was becoming increasingly conservative, with either a capital ‘C’ or a small ‘c’. These findings gelled with the ‘future of the Left’ debates which so worried the Labour Party during the 1950s. Earnest discussions about the nature and fate of socialism in conditions of growing working-class affluence took place not simply behind the closed doors of – 170 –

The Middle Way party committee rooms, but in the newspapers and periodicals of the Left, and in highbrow literary journals, notably Encounter. (Interestingly, Encounter was then partly edited by the American cultural critic Irving Kristol. Kristol was also editor of the Left-leaning Partisan Review in the United States. He would become an influential neo-Conservative.)9 The ‘future of the Left’ debates were led by the Labour Party strategists Mark Abrams and C.A.R. Crosland following the two election defeats of 1955 and 1959.10 For Crosland, ‘the housing migration from the solidly working-class slum areas into socially more fluid suburban estates and new towns’ was coterminous with wider social changes.11 One such change was the rapidly emerging mass medium of television. This was viewed by Abrams as a potential purveyor of mass conservatism and conformity. Writing in 1957, he noted the higher ownership of the television set within wealthier conservative constituencies as opposed to that in ‘solid Labour areas’, but he appeared worried that the recent introduction of commercial television by the Conservative government, which had broken the BBC’s monopoly of airtime provision, would work to the advantage of conservative and business interests. Labour had to get onto television and use it skilfully, he stated.12 There were also structural forces working against the Labour Party. Abrams and Crosland emphasized the changing nature of the labour force, notably the relative decline of manufacturing employment, and such stronghold blue-collar Labour sectors as coal mining, railways and textiles. Conversely, the service sector and white-collar work expanded, thus engendering the relative increase in the size of the middle-class population. Crosland also flagged affluence and consumption, and ‘the sudden irruption of the upper working-class into the world of automobiles, gadgets and consumer durables’.13 Mark Abrams was further concerned that improving domestic living standards and growing home ownership among the most highly-paid working classes might render increasing numbers of the working class permanently more conservative in their voting habits.14 So too was Crosland, yet he warned the puritanical Left of his party, and also the claret-swilling ‘Chelsea literati’, not to despair at the gains of the working-class nouveaux riches, but to acknowledge their good fortune.15 In addition, there was the expanding lower-middle class with which Labour had to contend. This problem was thrown into sharp relief during the 1950s within the County of Middlesex, a once rural county which had been heavily sprawled over by metropolitan development between the wars. While the London County Council had built some council estates for working-class households in Middlesex, the county was perceived as the classic sociological home of the English lowermiddle classes due to the prominence of inter-war semi-detached and detached suburban housing. Generally, throughout the 1950s, Middlesex’s constellation of constituencies comprised more Conservative and Liberal seats than Labour ones. – 171 –

Suburban Century John Betjeman’s poetical love–hate relationship with this county was, therefore, paralleled by Labour’s desire to win these burgeoning constituencies, a desire compromised by its instinctive suspicion of petit bourgeois politics. Since 1950, the London Labour Party (LLP), supported by the national organization, attempted with only minimal success to extend its metropolitan influence into Middlesex, and to establish more effective Labour Party branches there.16 In so doing, the LLP often trod on the toes of the existing Middlesex Labour Party, which wished to stay independent of London politics.17 For almost all members of the Labour Party in the London region, however, any gains in Middlesex were to be welcomed. So in 1958, for example, an upswing in Labour fortunes at a local election there provoked excited articles in London News, the journal of the LLP, about some sort of ‘revolution in suburbia’.18 That was pure hubris, given Labour’s election defeat the following year. Yet the answer to Labour’s problems lay, in sharp relief, in Middlesex. We can see this in the thinking of a resident Labour politician, Merlyn Rees. In common with so many politicians, his autobiography adopts the ‘life journey’ approach from childhood to political power. This journey involves changes of landscape and of circumstance which influenced political views, and which violently stirred, or gently encouraged, a re-evaluation of values and beliefs. Rees was a son of a South Wales miner and his wife, whose family moved to Wembley, in the expanding suburbs of Middlesex, following the General Strike of 1926. This was part of a wider Welsh migration to suburban London and other parts of southern England between the wars, as economic desperation in the towns and valleys drove people to look for work elsewhere.19 Following the war, Rees became a Grammar School teacher, and he contested Harrow in Middlesex for Labour at the 1955 and 1959 general elections.20 He was adamant that if Labour wanted to win such suburban areas, it needed to appeal to the aspirations, values and realities of suburbanites. Today, Rees is hardly viewed as a key thinker in the evolution of the post-war Labour Party. Yet in a contribution to the journal Political Quarterly in 1960, Rees argued that a Labour Party whose imagery and rhetoric were still dominated by miners from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, or by the defeated ex-combatants of the Spanish Civil War, was a doomed Labour Party.21 This statement in itself signalled the considerable impact of suburbanization upon Rees’s political thought. In common with Abrams and Crosland, he emphasized the growing number of affluent lower-middle-class households and the rise of the service sector as potentially gloomy portents for Labour and its trades-union base. He also pointed to the demise of the Jewish labour vote and the rise, not of a large-scale Jewish conservatism, but of a growing Jewish Liberal Party vote in the North London suburbs.22 Rees was also keen to emphasize some important changes of outlook and of feeling among working-class people who had moved out from the old London slums. Outward meant upward, and this was often – 172 –

The Middle Way a generational transition, as many young couples repudiated the politics of their parents. This transition included not simply those buying their own home, but also those who moved to nicer houses on council estates. Ultimately, Rees did not feel that suburbia was as communal as the older traditional working-class areas; thus he fell victim to the common misconception of suburbs as somewhat atomized and less neighbourly than the older and poorer working-class districts. Yet he observed that there was also a lively culture of social and voluntary associations in many suburbs, and the reports that everyone was fighting to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ were greatly exaggerated.23 The suburbs, then, were not to be accepted as a permanently anti-labour desert. In terms which echoed the analysis of Crosland that the Labour Party should be more pragmatic and less grudging in its analysis of the impact of affluence, Rees attacked the romanticism with which many Left intellectuals viewed working-class history, and drew upon his own experience to give weight to his argument. ‘I welcome the material advantages of today’, he wrote: for I was born into a working-class life that was not easy. I am glad that women are helped by washing-machines, refrigerators, and shiny cookers. I accept the new world of yellow front doors, bright curtains, exciting wallpapers, do-it-yourself, the motor car, and holidays with pay. [There] should be no reason for the widely-held feeling that the Labour Party is against such affluence – although sometimes I do detect a feeling of regret among Labour intellectuals that the working class is not what it used to be. I treasure, mainly through my parents, many memories of the comradeship of the people in distressed areas – but we were not all queuing for W.E.A. classes or to sing the Messiah.24

Rees provided a hard-headed synthesis which identified the key social, cultural and economic changes that were most strongly and extensively apparent in suburbia. In attempting to win the suburbs, it followed that the Labour Party would have to modernize its image. The party leadership under Hugh Gaitskell from 1955 and Harold Wilson from 1963 attempted to do this. The dividend finally came during the 1964 general election, which Labour won by only the narrowest of margins. In the campaign, Wilson compared himself to J.F. Kennedy in his reforming ‘New Frontier’ phase, and to President Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as posing for photographs with the Beatles. His rhetoric eulogized new technology, and promised a younger, more dynamic Britain.25 The United States and the Beatles, like the new housing estates and their occupants, were young and aspirational, miles away from the cloth-cap imagery of which Rees and others had become wary. Suburbia, then, had been at the heart of Labour’s attempts to keep itself looking fresh, and to its revisionist thinking, during the later 1950s and early 1960s.

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Suburban Century

The Democrats and the Suburbs from the 1950s to the 1970s In the United States, the victory of the Republican Party at the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections was attributed by many political commentators to the remarkable growth of home ownership, incomes and affluence, and to increasing levels of household consumption. Allegedly, millions of people from the central city, who chose to live in the suburbs, were happy to see their old neighbourhood with its rental housing and its liberal politics disappear in their rear-view mirror as they drove off to their mortgaged new home in the suburbs. Once there, according to the myth, they became impervious to problems beyond their own family and their suburb, something reflected in their newly conservative voting behaviour.26 This was embourgeoisement, American-style: younger blue-collar households gained higher incomes, moved to a suburban home, brushed shoulders with higher-status white-collar types and turned against the Democrats, whose traditional appeal to ‘the common man’ seemed outmoded.27 Articles in popular journals such as Newsweek argued that ‘the suburban vote’ was increasingly Republican: When a city dweller packs up and moves his family to the suburbs, he usually acquires a mortgage, a power lawn mower, and a backyard grill. Often, although a lifelong Democrat, he also starts voting Republican.28

Sociologists of political behaviour argued that a rising tide of Americans moving up the socio-economic scale, and feeling increasingly financially self-confident, was unwilling to be told by Democrats to pay taxes to sustain welfare policies they felt they no longer needed. Republicans appeared to be more sympathetic to their gains and to their material interests.29 We saw in the previous section that many English suburbanites viewed the Tories in a similar light. Thus, in language which resembled that of Crosland, Merlyn Rees and other Labour analysts in Britain, one study argued that the suburbs were filling up with ‘millions of former Democrats whose economic and emotional ties to their party were disintegrating under the impact of prosperity’.30 This theme was addressed by William H. Whyte in The Organization Man. He proposed what has been viewed as the ‘conversion’ theory of political behaviour: ‘something does seem to happen to Democrats when they get to suburbia’. That something was the desire of new arrivals to be accepted into the new housing development by attuning themselves to the perceived values of the suburb. Proof apparent was in the 1952 presidential vote. Park Forest was 69 per cent Republican, while Levittown, Long Island was 66 per cent Republican. Democrats, concluded Whyte, were pessimistic about their current and future prospects in the expanding suburbs.31 In the same vein, Vance Packard’s exploration of class behaviour in 1950s America apparently found that ‘distance of home from centre of city’ was – 174 –

The Middle Way one of a number of indicators of the propensity to vote republican.32 Packard, a journalist, had taken his cue from Whyte. As a result of this apparent tide of upwardly mobile blue-collar suburbanites into lower-middle-class housing areas, Republican politicians grew more confident; they had, after all, been out of power since the fall of President Herbert Hoover in 1932. The Republican Congressman Robert Taft, for example, was happy to argue, following the 1952 election, that the Democrats would never win another national presidential election unless they solved the problem of the suburbs.33 And as a Democrat politician, one among many, lamented: ‘the suburbs were murder’.34 Others were less credulous, however, about the ‘conversion’ notion of instantly transformable Democrat voters. Robert Wood’s work, published in 1959, parodied the argument, comparing the spirit of suburban pioneers to those nineteenthcentury small-town settlers whose organizations were intended to encourage a sense of localism and belonging. Hence the new terrain of green grass, fresh air, bigger houses and higher status combined to erode the class and ethnic identities of the big city and, allegedly, to bring about a small-town mind focused on ‘the backyard barbecue and the commuting schedule’. Wood provided a fictional account, by Eugene Burdick, of ‘Joe Wilson’, who was once Jere Wilsweski of Pittsburgh. He had moved occupationally from the blast furnace to a white-collar job, spatially from downtown to the suburbs, and politically from Democrat to Republican.35 Wood was certainly aware of the short-term gains made by the Republicans in national elections during the second half of the 1950s, especially within the industrial blue-collar heartlands of the urban Democrats. The suburban rings of major cities such as Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were increasingly inclined to vote Republican. The suburbs of southern cities, such as St Louis and San Francisco, also registered Republican gains. The second victory of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 appeared to confirm the new conservative ascendancy in the voting booths.36 Yet Wood was adamant that presidential returns were ‘notoriously unreliable in indicating long-run party preferences’ and he observed some significant countervailing trends to the conversion of the United States into a ‘Republican majority’. For example, in Levittown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Republican dominance was soon ended once a new steel plant, employing 17,000 people, was opened nearby. Not all the new residents in the town were steelworkers, moreover, and many commuted elsewhere to work. Blue-collar workers remained largely Democrat, while those white-collar workers of low to middle rank were less solidly Republican than the higher-paid and better-educated white-collar workers.37 Another study of the same Levittown during the 1950s noted that the Democratic organization in the area had been weak at first, but once established, the Democrat vote increased.38 – 175 –

Suburban Century There were similar findings in Bennett M. Berger’s Working-Class Suburb, a study of Milpitas, California. In common with Levittown, many workers moving to Milpitas did so as a result of the relocation of their company, in this case Ford Motors, in 1955. The migrating blue-collar workers remained solidly Democrat. There was little evidence that home ownership, the workings of the Republican party machine, or any neighbourhood pressure to conform to Republican voting affected the political values of the auto workers.39 Berger, in consequence, made what today might seem to be an obvious point, but during the 1950s it was one which had eluded the worried men of the Left. For ‘the new tract suburbs are new’ and they were rapidly occupied: ‘if most of the new residents are former urban Democrats, then there would be no previously Republican ethos to which to conform’.40 In common with Wood’s analysis, furthermore, Berger argued that the highestpaid professionals were more inclined to vote Republican, but any notion of whitecollar workers as a homogenous Republican-voting bloc was inaccurate, because large numbers were ‘liberal Democrats of the New Deal type’, who ‘by no stretch of the imagination could be called “lower-class”’.41 Even Packard’s The Status Seekers discovered that the Republican Party was missing out on large sections of the vote in comfortable suburban areas. Packard was particularly impressed with the social activities of Democrat women in the suburbs, with their ‘very proper teas’ and their successful attempts to make Democrats feel at home.42 Other studies found there was no Republican monopoly over the affluent suburban constituency.43 There were still further social trends in the American suburbs during the 1950s which compromised any picture of a growing political monoculture. Suburban religion, for example, was not a monopoly of any Protestant conservative hegemony. Hence a residential suburb of Kalamazoo, Michigan, comprised largely of white-collar homeowners, contained Catholics who were less inclined to vote for Eisenhower than were Protestants.44 A study of voting behaviour in Buffalo in New York State found that religion was a significant source of identification there, and large numbers of Catholics voted for Kennedy in 1960. Generally speaking, they did this regardless of other neighbourhood pressures, such as a heavy clustering of high-status, high-earning non-Catholics.45 Nor did the increasing Jewish suburbanization during the 1950s, discussed in Chapter Five, engender any Republicanization of American Jews. Rather, they took Democratic voting into the suburbs, and were often active in political associations and organizations there. There are exceptions to every rule, which prove the rule, and throughout the postwar years some Jews chose to vote Republican over particular issues, but the majority did not. One study, published in 1979, claimed that continued Jewish Democratic voting had accompanied their post-war economic ascendancy.46 More recently, Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab have argued that Jews have – 176 –

The Middle Way remained committed, more so than most affluent upwardly mobile groups in American society, to the Democrats’ liberal-interventionist reforming tradition.47 Despite the election of Democratic presidents in 1960 and 1964, and although there were electoral returns which consistently challenged the notion of a homogenous right-wing suburbia, the counter-cultural thinkers and activists of the 1960s hated the suburbs. The allegedly conformist and conservative suburbia incurred the libertarian animus of many counter cultural radicals who had grown up in the suburbs.48 The spectacle of some suburbanites opposing bussing, and the attacks on black households entering suburbia, confirmed this ostensible ‘suburban’ reaction to many people concerned with social progress and liberal reforms. Once the heady days of the 1960s had begun to fade, however, it became increasingly clear to political scientists and sociologists that the growing suburbs had been populated by people who would have voted the same way in the central cities.49 Many writers began to look back more critically at the 1950s debates over suburban politics, ‘the so-called ‘Republican majority’, and the exaggerated anticipations of Democratic decline. These studies stressed some important trends, trends which were unfortunately forgotten when suburban politics are discussed: suburbs changed, and different suburbs changed differently. In many suburban areas, housing stock, once new, grew older and often declined. In others, however, as properties and residential environments matured, values remained high, and often rose. The social, ethnic, occupational and religious composition of many suburbs also changed. Other suburbs continued to hold combinations of blue-collar Democrats and white-collar Republicans.50 All these factors were interwoven with each other, and represented the complex and continuing pattern of wider social, economic and political change in the United States. Hence, in a timely book on ‘the changing face of the suburbs’, published during the mid-1970s, two sociologists of political behaviour emphasized the importance of a longitudinal perspective on American voting patterns. They observed that there was no uniform voting pattern in suburbs, and even went so far as to argue that ‘it is quite likely that, as the centre of gravity of metropolitan America becomes suburban, the suburbs become more democratic’.51 And in so doing, they would become increasingly representative of national political movements in general. This was hardly surprising. As Joseph Zikmund, a political scientist, argued in the mid-1970s, there was increasing evidence that ‘suburbia is almost as diverse as the nation’s total population’. There were new and old suburbs, commercial suburbs, industrial suburbs, purely residential suburbs, and upper-class, middleclass and lower-class suburbs.52 Zikmund, furthermore, emphasized some key reasons for a historical understanding of suburban politics. For example, an important factor was the ‘developmental stage’ of the wider region within which a given suburb was located. The economic circumstances of a region affected the material well-being and perhaps the morale of the suburbanites. In addition, the – 177 –

Suburban Century ‘circumstances of origin’ of the suburban population needed to be taken into account. Hence in Levittown, Pennsylvania or in Milpitas, California a considerable bulk of blue-collar residents had moved with their employment, whereas other suburbs were made up of people from more diverse urban, rural, ethnic and occupational backgrounds. Other criteria to be accounted for when attempting to gauge suburban political behaviour were the ages of different districts and the ages of people within them. We have seen that new subdivisions in the United States, as with the new estates in England, were more fully populated with younger households. Mature wealthier suburbs or older inner suburbs, however, had more mixed population profiles.53 A good example of the crystallization of some of these factors in a particular suburb comes from a Canadian study of a commuter village in Ontario, made during the 1970s. The suburb was made up of younger white-collar professionals and affluent manual workers from Toronto, who had moved to a new housing development adjacent to an established village. They brought with them independent or liberal politics, while the original villagers remained largely Tory.54 A 1975 article on Congressional politics in the United States argued that the behaviour of Congressmen and Congresswomen was increasingly powerfully influenced by the values of suburban voters: ‘Congress must come to grips with the policy positions and reform preferences of suburbanites’. Interestingly, the study argued that these positions were not the generally conservative ones adopted by rural Congressional politics. Nor were they as likely to adopt the more liberal stance of their ‘urban counterparts’ – central-city Congressmen and Congresswomen – on taxation and the finance of social reform. Yet a receptiveness to social reform and a willingness to attempt certain solutions to social problems was clearly in evidence within suburban Representatives. Hence in certain policy issues which impacted upon the well-being and functioning of urban areas, notably socialservice measures, and road and transportation policies, suburban Democrats usually voted with central-city Democrats. Within the ranks of Republicans in Congress, there was some confluence, but less, between suburban Republicans and their central-city counterparts (indicating, of course, that certain areas of the central city voted Republican in large numbers).55 This is the essence of what may be termed the middle way: the policy preferences of the diverse suburban constituencies of the United States rested somewhere between a more liberal-interventionist central-city tradition, and a more conservative rural and small-town political orientation emphasizing Jeffersonian principles of less government and more self-help. It can be viewed as the predominant political ethos of Middle America, of the middle classes, the majority of whom resided in the suburbs by 1970, and of the affluent blue-collar households who preferred suburban living to the inner city.

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The Middle Way

The Democrats and Middle America since the 1970s James Earl Carter’s narrow election victory for the Democrats in 1976 incorporated suburban voters, as much as it relied upon the key Democratic inner-city constituencies, and the traditionally ‘conservative’ southern Democrats. During the four years of the Carter presidency, however, the Republicans gained seats in both Houses of Congress, winning a considerable majority by 1980, and they went on to win the presidential elections of 1980, 1984 and 1988 with considerably larger majorities than that of Carter’s in 1976. The 1984 election, for example, saw the largest-ever endorsement for a Republican candidate, as Ronald Reagan gained over 54,200,000 votes.56 The Republican Party presented itself as the party of mainstream America, while the Democrats were caricatured by Republican propaganda as increasingly concerned with minority issues. George Bush’s victory over Michael Dukakis in 1988 was assisted by his claim that Dukakis was ‘an out-of-themainstream liberal’.57 A number of key Democrats were aware of their weakening appeal to that ‘mainstream’, and in order to regain their votes, they chose to adopt a centrist political message and programme. Following the 1984 defeat, some Democrats had formed the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a policy-orientated revisionist group seeking to redefine the Democrats within an era of manifest Republican preference. It aimed at ‘the mainstream of American political life’.58 By 1988, it had not gone far enough, but it had at least helped to improve the fortunes of the Democrats. That achievement was noted by political commentators and journalists outside the United States. Writing in The Times following the 1988 election, Conor Cruse O’Brien sensed that the appeal to the centre was the way forward, not simply for the American Democrats but also for the British Labour Party.59 The main problem for the Democrats was that during the 1980s millions of people in comfortably-off suburbs felt that the Democrat Party spoke more for the poor, for ‘the losers’ even, than it did for them. Many Democrats preferred a radical position by moving policies toward the needs, not of the middle, but of the ‘outside’, those within the economically impoverished ethnic minorities. Jesse Jackson and Mario Cuomo, prominent Democrats, were eloquent in their speeches about poverty and the inner city, but their words did not really resonate with suburbanites. So if the Democrats were to ‘win in the nineties’, in the words of the political scientist David Kusnet, they would have to address this major issue.60 The rising stars of the Democratic leadership, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, however, correctly identified that their ascendancy lay in an appeal to the middle ground. They began to work more closely with the DLC after 1988. Jesse Jackson’s emphasis upon minority groups was to some extent played down by the DLC. This shift towards a more centrist programme was personified by Clinton and Gore. It would be easy to overstate the case, given the absence of sympathetic and – 179 –

Suburban Century detailed biographies of both Clinton and Gore, and the dearth of accounts of the making of their political beliefs. But some interesting speculations can be made. Clinton spent much of his childhood and teenage years in the suburbs of small-town Hot Springs, Arkansas, and his wife Hillary Rodham was the daughter of a Republican suburban couple. Al Gore’s childhood and youth was spent in Carthage, Tennessee and in Washington DC, where he went to one of the country’s most prestigious schools. His wife, Tipper, came from Arlington County, Virginia, a close-by suburb of Washington DC.61 Steeped in suburban backgrounds, the relatively young Bill Clinton and Al Gore and their spouses were perhaps more ready to listen to political analysts connected to the DLC, who were emphasizing Middle America and its dreams, than were the older liberal Democrats. Dukakis had gone some way toward this constituency in his 1988 campaign, but not far enough, argued Stanley Greenberg, a senior advisor to the Democrats. And it was to Macomb County, a suburban county in Michigan, near Detroit, that Greenberg turned in order to find out what Middle America really wanted. Macomb County was a once-Democrat bastion which had turned to Ronald Reagan during the 1980s. It was a microcosm of the affluent blue-collar and middle-class voters that the New Democrats needed to win in much larger numbers. Beyond the poor and the unemployed casualties of the economic ‘downsizing’ of the 1980s, the majority were generally well-off. According to Greenberg, they worked hard, earned good money and enjoyed a materially comfortable life, but they were nonetheless prone to economic insecurities, fearful of high taxes and worried about such issues as crime and education. It is difficult in a few sentences to summarize the complexity of Greenberg’s analysis of the Middle American constituency. Basically, however, the American Dream of Macomb County was based upon the continuing enjoyment of material prosperity, within conditions of economic growth, and within a popular-political arrangement which kept taxes down while somehow delivering safer streets and improved schools and health services. The ‘Clinton solution’ worked out before the election of 1992 was based upon an acceptance that people did not love high taxes. Yet Clinton spoke the communitarian language of social responsibility, and encouraged people to work hard for their own dreams, as well as for a better America. A carefully targeted and financially prudent range of welfare policies was proposed, to give the impression that the Democrats would tackle social problems without adopting a spendthrift approach. Furthermore, a complementary and communitarian voluntarism, to be stirred in all sections of society, aimed to improve the morale and safety of society.62 Such voluntary communitarian values, Amitai Etzioni has argued, found a willing reception in the American suburbs.63 The mutually inclusive traditions of voluntary association, neighbourliness, and a respect for privacy – discussed in the previous chapter – help to explain this. New Democrats also replaced the term – 180 –

The Middle Way ‘liberal’, with its alleged baggage of minority causes, with the term ‘progressive’. Furthermore, Clinton appealed to small businesses and to corporate America, claiming that economic growth aided the potential to achieve a new set of social policies dedicated to the achievement of higher levels of opportunity for all Americans, especially the poorer groups. He was thus able to modify the Democrats’ association with the inner city, while maintaining the support of key leaders from a range of ethnic groups.64 The 1992 presidential election, as the political journalist William Schneider argued, was the most profoundly ‘suburban’ election yet seen in the United States. The demographic dominance of the suburbs in electoral terms, the reorientation of Democrat policies in the preceding years, and the careful playing of the presidential campaigns toward the suburban audience was evidence of the beginning of a profoundly new era in American politics. Schneider termed it ‘the suburban century’.65 The Democrats were elected with a large majority in 1992, at the onset of this alleged new era. They held the inner cities, but they also took constituencies with extensive suburban tracts in them. A number of English political journalists, observing the unfolding of events in the United States, concurred that the suburbs were where millions of voters switched, tentatively, to the New Democrats.66 That switch was, to a considerable degree, consolidated in the New Democrats’ election victory of 1996. Philip Gould, a Labour strategist whose previous career had been in advertising, closely observed the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections. He became convinced that the repackaged party headed by the New Democrats had developed a highly successful suburban populism which could be emulated in England: ‘It was the New Democrats that won in 1992 and again in 1996. It is New Labour that will win in 1997.’67 Gould’s prediction would be proved correct, and spectacularly so, but Labour’s victory came only after a long hard endeavour to suburbanize the soul of the party.

The 1980s and 1990s: Suburbia and the Labour Party It was argued above that the journey of Merlyn Rees from Cardiff to North London was fundamental to his reinterpretation of Labour politics during the 1950s and early 1960s. It was also a part of a wider project of reviving Labour’s electoral fortunes during the years of opposition before 1964. Following the general election defeat of 1979, however, many on the Left of the Labour Party forgot that lesson, and as the party moved to extremes on key policies such as taxation, nuclear disarmament and welfare spending, it proved to be unelectable. It received a drubbing at the 1983 general election, and a hammering in 1987. The new housing

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Suburban Century areas, including new towns, were blamed by broadsheet commentators on voting behaviour. Basildon, for example, in the county of Essex, was caricatured during the 1980s by Guardian-reading socialists who despaired at the gum-chewing, lager-belching, big-spending, two-cars attitude of ‘Essex Man’. As the long 1980s wore on, he became the horrible symbol of working-class Thatcherism, a view confirmed by Basildon’s refusal to turf out the Tories in their 1992 election victory. In fact, following Mrs Thatcher’s election to the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1975, through the three elections victories of 1979, 1983 and 1987, the Conservative Party had proven particularly adept in appealing to the affluent working class and to the middle classes. The message of higher incomes and lower taxes for ‘hard-working’ families went down particularly well with skilled workers and high-wage earners. Significantly, too, the Conservative government’s expansion of the sale of council houses in order to enable aspirational workers to become owner-occupiers was a shrewd policy designed to appeal specifically to those working-class householders who had been previously unable to buy their own homes. The Thatcher governments sold off one million homes: ‘many were well-built semis in good repair on attractive estates’.68 This did not just appeal to the aspiration of home ownership; it also threatened to create a new constituency of working-class converts grateful to the beneficent Tories. Little wonder, then, that analysts of electoral trends had already pointed, by 1983, to the move away from Labour of the affluent working classes. Home ownership was viewed as an especially tricky issue for a Labour Party still readily identified with council tenants and the poor. As those Labour analysts had feared during the 1950s, it was ignoring the affluent, home-owning ‘new working class’, which, by the 1980s, was the largest section of that class.69 In the 1987 general election it was again working-class affluence and home ownership which helped the Conservatives to power. And underpinning all of this was the structural acceleration of service-sector and white-collar work, traditionally associated with the Tory vote in the mind of the psephologist. Taken together, these appeared to be a gloomy development for a Labour Party mired, it was argued, in a rhetoric and identity still based upon blue-collar workers and council tenants.70 It should be emphasized, however, a point made in previous chapters, that the suburbs were not all wealthy and comfortable. Poor peripheral council estates in declining industrial areas were in a very different position to those in the booming south-east of England. In council estates in South Wales, Scotland and the north of England, the Conservative vote, while by no means absent, was of lesser magnitude than that in the south-east. For example, in Cardiff, South Wales during the 1992 election, Labour candidate Rhodri Morgan took the seat of Cardiff South from the Tory incumbent whose majority from the previous election was very slim. Morgan’s success was attributed to the vote on the poorest outer estates in Cardiff, and to the neglect of such estates by the Conservative government.71 – 182 –

The Middle Way Yet this was a section of the working class living in a declining suburb, a suburb situated within a declining manufacturing region of Britain. Such estates were not necessarily where the problem lay for the Labour vote, even though they were a reminder that Labour’s poor heartland vote was not wholly situated within the inner city. In an insightful post mortem on Labour’s 1992 defeat, the cultural critic Stuart Hall noted that although it had modernized under Neil Kinnock, Labour was still not the party of the ‘aspirational classes’. Contrasting the two party leaders, Kinnock and John Major of the Tories, Hall emphasized Major’s rhetorical emphasis upon ‘classlessness’. Major was appealing to those who pursued upward social mobility, if not for themselves then for their children. They wanted security, material enrichment and reasonable taxes. They also wanted to liberate themselves from an atavistic working-class identity. It was Major’s message that ‘was heard in Basildon and a thousand “classless” working-class and suburban communities across the country . . .’72 Key strategists and politicians in the Labour Party had for some time been aware of the problems facing Labour in relation to those suburbanites whose fortunes were considerably better than those in poor council housing. Following the 1983 defeat, a new phase of modernization slowly gathered pace within the parameters of Labour’s revisionist tendencies, and suburban politics were essential to this project. Key Labour thinkers knew that the suburbs were where Labour’s fortunes were not done to death, but waiting and indeed willing to be revived. Hence, rather like Merlyn Rees before him, Philip Gould has written of his political life-journey. He grew up in a suburb of Woking, Surrey during the 1950s; thus, at a young age, he got used to seeing Labour lose in a predominantly conservative county. Woking was synonymous with owner-occupied commuter-land, and with ordinary but by no means poor council estates. But Gould was a child of the 1950s and not, as Rees had been, of the inter-war years. As well, Rees was a product of the Welsh Valleys whereas Gould came from ‘an unexceptional suburban town’ where people worked hard to live and to earn the money to buy the things they wanted.73 But like Rees, Gould understood, as did his fellow modernizers such as Peter Mandelson, that suburban values and aspirations reflected the values and aspirations of the great majority of Middle English men and women. Mandelson, for example, was a product of wealthy parents and also of what he and his peers rather pompously referred to as ‘the Suburb’, that is, Hampstead Garden Suburb in North London, where he grew up. Mandelson was also the grandson of that personification of Labour moderation and respectability Herbert Morrison, leader of the London County Council during the 1930s, and a prominent Labour politician during the 1940s. Mandelson occasionally flirted with radical politics, but he was not really disposed to communism because of his particularly comfortable, ‘respectable’ and moderate suburban background.74

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Suburban Century The intention of both Gould and Mandelson was to persuade the Labour Party to develop a collective ‘suburban populist instinct’ in order to win.75 Others in the Labour Party agreed. A couple of pamphlets in 1992 and 1993, entitled Southern Discomfort and More Southern Discomfort, argued that ‘Labour’s crippling weakness in southern England’ lay in its failure to appeal to the affluent southern working classes, and to middle-class white-collar voters. As the pamphlets made clear, ‘southern England’ was ‘Middle England’ and Middle England did not like policy extremes and high taxation.76 (The pamphlet titles implicitly refer to the South of the United States, and perhaps also to the fact that the solution to this discomfort might eventually come from the United States.) Gould and the Labour Party learned many things from the United States. In terms of the party’s structure and ethos, Labour directly emulated the change of label by calling itself ‘New Labour’. It began to develop effective advertising and media strategies, and it realized the need for a single and effective operational centre to plan and carry out these strategies. The Labour Party began to dump ‘old Left’ shibboleths, notably high taxation and unilateral disarmament.77 This reformulation of policy was perfectly compatible with the post-war revisionist tradition emanating from Hugh Gaitskell. And Labour began to develop a younger and dynamic image and language, personified in its new leader, Tony Blair, from 1994. As a centenary history of the Labour Party recently argued, Blair’s electoral strategy ‘was tightly focused upon winning the support of suburban “Middle England”’, while also appealing to manual workers.78 Blair himself, in company with his political ally Gordon Brown, had been to the United States to observe the Clinton campaign of 1992, and had returned impressed, although by no means uncritically so. But Blair borrowed enough from the New Democrats to provoke the view that he was betraying the time-honoured socialist traditions of the Labour Party by selling out to ‘Clintonization.’79 His critics, however, had failed to produce a party that was anything like as effective as New Labour.80 This centrist position, and its repackaged image, succeeded spectacularly. The Labour Party gained its largest-ever general election victory in 1997, taking a majority of 179 seats, and one of the largest shares of the vote in its history. This victory was all the more remarkable for two connected reasons. First, many political analysts had written Labour off as a party in terminal decline after the general election of 1992, its fourth consecutive defeat.81 Second, after her 1987 general election victory, in which some inner-city constituencies, especially in London, had swung to the Tories, a triumphant Margaret Thatcher had pledged that the Conservative Party would now attempt to win more inner cities. With a glint in her eyes, she stated how ‘we’, the Conservative Party wanted ‘them’, the inner cities, ‘next time’.82 But from 1994, New Labour’s reverse offensive turned the tables. A rebranded party took the battle into the suburban and new-town bastions of Middle England. Home-owning suburbanites – 184 –

The Middle Way in the south-east, as well as in other parts of the country, became voters for the third way of both individual and social enhancement. Even Basildon went Labour.83

Conclusion During the post-war period, the perceived need to appeal to ‘the suburbs’ became central to the revisionist discourses of the Democrat and Labour parties. Suburban politics was largely, although not wholly, reducible to the affluent and aspiring sections of both countries, and pragmatic party leaders and strategists realized that the more the party appealed to the broad mass of suburbanites, the likelier they were to become elected. This proved to be the case following the Republican and Conservative successes at the national elections during the 1950s and 1980s. Of course, other key issues and events influenced the outcomes of presidential and general elections, notably the performance of the economy, and the favourable or unfavourable perception by the electorate of the incumbent government’s track record. Nonetheless, a party orientated away from or against the subjective interest of those living in suburbs could not expect to win national elections. And the suburbs, as we saw in earlier chapters, had become more socially diverse in both countries.84 By the 1980s, they were no longer the predominantly white middleclass constituency of nuclear families that they had been in the 1950s. Nonetheless, they were still the sensible middle ground of party politics. Into the new century, ‘the suburbs’ remained central to political debates about the electoral capacity of the Democratic and Labour parties. In the United States, as the Democrats geared up for the 2000 presidential campaign, the Democratic candidate Al Gore had to tread very carefully lest he be seen to be asking too much financially, and thus upsetting the suburbs.85 Hillary Clinton, too, campaigning to be selected as a Senator for New York, found herself potentially unpopular with New York’s ‘suburban soccer moms’, many of whom had supported her husband Bill Clinton.86 In England in the year 2000, the political journalist Andrew Marr affirmed that it was ‘suburbia that Tony Blair should be cultivating . . . that’s where the real power lies’.87 Others, however, were urging Blair to ignore ‘pebble-dash politics’, to drop advisors such as Philip Gould, and to return to some ‘core’ Labour constituency.88 If winning elections was to be taken seriously, however, Marr was right. According to the psephologist Ivor Crewe, the suburbs ‘turned red’ during New Labour’s general election victory in 2001.89 Blair and his advisors knew that Labour ignored the aspirational voters in suburbia at its peril.

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Suburban Century

Notes 1. Nigel Todd, ‘Suburban history (1918–1950)’, Local Historian, 11/5, 1975, p. 285. 2. Eric Homberger, The Penguin Historical Atlas of North America (Harmondsworth, 1995), p. 128. 3. Ann Durkin Keating, Building Chicago: Suburban Developers and the Creation of a Divided Metropolis (Urbana, 2002), pp. 120–26; see Chapter 4 above. 4. John Hartley, ‘The sexualisation of suburbia’, in Roger Silverstone (ed.), Visions of Suburbia (London, 1997), p. 184. 5. Homi Bhabha, ‘Bombs away in front-line suburbia’, in Silverstone (ed.), Visions of Suburbia, pp. 298–303. This chapter was first published in the English newspaper The Guardian. 6. Stuart M. Blumin, ‘The centre cannot hold: historians and the suburbs’, Journal of Policy History, 2/1, 1990, p. 120. 7. Peter Hennessy, Never Again: Britain, 1945–1951 (London, 1993, pp. 169– 74); Jim Tomlinson, ‘Reconstructing Britain: Labour in power, 1945–1951’, in Nick Tiratsoo (ed.), From Blitz to Blair: A New History of Britain Since 1939 (London, 1997), pp. 82–3. 8. Harriet Jones, ‘“This is magnificent”: 300,000 houses a year and the Tory revival after 1945’, Contemporary British History, 14/1, 2000: Special Issue: Planning, Politics and Housing in Britain, pp. 99–121. 9. Norman F. Cantor and Mindy Cantor, The American Century: Varieties of Culture in Modern Times (New York, 1998), pp. 268, 339. 10. Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘The Wilson Years: 1964–1970’, in Tiratsoo (ed.), Blitz to Blair, p. 132; Mark Abrams, ‘Disturbing thoughts for the next election’, Socialist Commentary, October 1957, pp. 16–19. 11. C.A.R. Crosland, ‘The future of the Left’, Encounter, 78, 1960, p. 4. 12. Abrams, ‘Disturbing thoughts’, pp. 18–19. 13. Crosland, ‘The future’, p. 4. 14. Mark Abrams, ‘The future of the Left: new roots of working-class conservatism’, Encounter, 80, 1960, pp. 57–9. 15. Crosland, ‘The future’, pp. 4–12. 16. Anon., ‘Give Middlesex a hand’, London News, April 1951; Anon., ‘Two vital counties: who shall govern?’ London News, January 1958; Anon., ‘Lick ’em here and we’ll be home’, London News, October 1959; Peter Robshaw, ‘What would you do with Middlesex?’, London News, July 1961. 17. John Mason, ‘Partnership denied: The London Labour Party on the LCC and the decline of London government, 1940–1965’, in Andrew Saint (ed.), Politics and the People of London: The London County Council, 1889–1965 (London, 1989), p. 262. – 186 –

The Middle Way 18. Peggy Crane, ‘Revolution in suburbia’, London News, June 1958. 19. Dan Weinbren, ‘Building communities, constructing identities: the rise of the Labour Party in London’, The London Journal, 23/1, 1998, p. 48. 20. D.M.L., ‘Standard bearer at Harrow’, London News, February 1959. 21. Merlyn Rees, ‘The social setting’, Political Quarterly, 31/3, 1960, p. 295. 22. Ibid., pp. 290, 292–4. 23. Ibid., p. 291. 24. Ibid., p. 299. 25. Morgan, ‘The Wilson years, 1964–1970’, p. 133. 26. A.L. Greer and S. Greer, ‘Suburban political behaviour: a matter of trust’, in Barry Schwartz (ed.), The Changing Face of the Suburbs (Chicago, 1976), p. 204; Vance Packard, The Status Seekers (Harmondsworth, 1963), p. 189. 27. Angus Campbell, ‘The case of the missing Democrats’, The New Republic, 2 July 1956, p. 14. 28. Quoted in Bennett M. Berger, Working-Class Suburb: A Study of Auto Workers in Suburbia (Berkeley, 1960), p. 28. 29. N.A. Graebner, ‘The changing nature of the Democratic Party’, Current History, 31/180, 1956, p. 71; F.I. Greenstein and R.E. Wolfinger, ‘The suburbs and shifting party loyalties’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 22/4, 1958–59, pp. 481–2. 30. Graebner, ‘The changing nature’, p. 71. 31. William H. Whyte, The Organization Man (Harmondsworth, 1965), pp. 276– 7. 32. Packard, Status Seekers, p. 192. 33. Robert C. Wood, Suburbia: Its People and Their Politics. (Boston, 1959), p. 139. 34. Berger, Working-Class Suburb , p. 29. 35. Wood, Suburbia, pp. 137–8. 36. Ibid., pp. 145–7. 37. Ibid. 38. G.E. Janosik, ‘The new suburbia’, Current History, 31/ 180, 1956, pp. 93–5. 39. Berger, Working-Class Suburb, pp. 30–1. 40. Ibid., p. 31. 41. Ibid. 42. Packard, Status Seekers, p. 190. 43. Duncan MacRae, ‘Occupations and the congressional vote, 1940–50’, American Sociological Review, 20/ 3, 1966, p. 336. 44. J.G. Manis and L.C. Stine, ‘Suburban residence and political behaviour’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 22/4, 1958–59, p. 487. 45. I.S. Foladare, ‘The effect of neighbourhood on voting behaviour’, Political Science Quarterly, LXXXIII/4, 1968, pp. 518–19, 521–3. – 187 –

Suburban Century 46. A.M. Fisher, ‘Realignment of the Jewish vote?’ Political Science Quarterly, 94/1, 1979, pp. 115–16. 47. Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, Jews and the New American Scene (Cambridge, MA, 1995), pp. 146–72. 48. Cantor and Cantor, American Century, pp. 314–15; Alan Ehrenhalt, The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America (New York, 1995), pp. 248–9. 49. Greer and Greer, ‘Suburban political behaviour’, pp. 204–5. 50. Everett Carll Ladd, Ideology in America: Change and Response in a City, a Suburb and a Small Town (New York, 1972), pp. 276–78. 51. Greer and Greer, ‘Suburban political behaviour’ p. 204. 52. Joseph Zikmund, ‘A theoretical structure for the study of suburban politics’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 422, 1975, p. 46. 53. Ibid., pp. 46, 56; Greer and Greer, ‘Suburban political behaviour’, p 205; Richard Lehne, ‘Suburban foundations of the new Congress’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 422, 1975, pp. 141–51. 54. Gerald Walker, ‘Social networks and territory in a commuter village: Bond Head, Ontario’, Canadian Geographer, 21/4, 1977, pp. 329–49. 55. Lehne, ‘Suburban foundations’, pp. 144–6. 56. Maldwyn A. Jones, The Limits of Liberty: American History, 1607–1992 (Oxford, 1995), p. 697. 57. Jon F. Hale, ‘The making of the New Democrats’, Political Science Quarterly, 110/ 2, 1995, p. 218. 58. Ibid, p. 215. 59. Conor Cruse O’Brien, ‘American lessons for Labour’, The Times, 11 May 1988. 60. David Kusnet, Speaking American: How the Democrats Can Win in the Nineties (New York, 1992), pp. 128–33. 61. Christopher Alexander, Bill and Hillary (London, 2000); on the Gores, see ‘Biography: Gore’s road from Tennessee to the White House’: www.cnn.com/ allpolitics/st…16/president.2000/gore.biography; ‘Biography of Tipper Gore’: www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/VP_Wife/megbio.html (September, 2000). 62. Stanley Greenberg, Middle Class Dreams: The Politics and Power of the New American Majority (New Haven, 1996), passim, but see for example pp. ix– xi, 12–14, 22–54. John Rentoul, Tony Blair (London, 1995), p. 277. 63. Amitai Etzioni, The Spirit of Community (London, 1995), pp. 120–1; 33, 35. 64. Hale, ‘The making’, pp. 223–6. 65. William Schneider, ‘The suburban century begins’, Atlantic Monthly, 270/1, 1992, pp. 33–44.

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The Middle Way 66. Harold Jackson, ‘Suburban voters switch’, The Guardian, 5 November 1992; Harold Jackson, ‘Republicans bequeath day of economic reckoning’, The Guardian, 5 November 1992; Simon Tisdall, ‘A long and lucky march from no-place to power’, The Guardian, 5 November 1992. 67. Philip Gould, ‘Tunes of glory’, The Guardian, 6 November 1996. 68. Paul Hirst, ‘Miracle or mirage? The Thatcher years, 1979–1997’, in Tiratsoo (ed.), Blitz to Blair, p. 199. 69. David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh. The British general election of 1983 (London, 1983), pp. 296–7; Ken Livingstone, ‘Why Labour lost’, New Left Review, 140, 1983, p. 27. 70. David Butler, ‘Who were the floating voters?’ The Times, 13 June 1987; David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh, The British general election of 1987 (London, 1988), p. 272. 71. Andrew Moncur, ‘Estates where Thatcher’s revolution falls foul of hardship and apathy’, The Guardian, 23 May 1987. 72. Stuart Hall, ‘No new vision, no new votes’, New Statesman and Society, 17 April 1992, pp. 14–15. 73. Philip Gould, The Unfinished Revolution: How the Modernizers Saved the Labour Party (London, 199), p. 3. 74. Paul Routledge, Mandy: The Unauthorised Biography of Peter Mandelson (London, 1999), pp. 25–39, et seq. 75. Gould, Unfinished Revolution, p. 188. 76. Giles Radice and Stephen Pollard, Southern Discomfort (London, 1992); Giles Radice and Stephen Pollard, More Southern Discomfort (London, 1993). 77. Gould, Unfinished Revolution, pp. 167–77. 78. Steven Fielding, ‘New Labour and the past’, in Duncan Tanner, Pat Thane and Nick Tiratsoo (eds), Labour’s First Century (Cambridge, 2000), p. 368. 79. Rentoul, Tony Blair, pp. 271–4. 80. Fielding, ‘New Labour’, pp. 369–87. 81. Anthony King, ‘Why Labour won – at last’, in Anthony King et al., New Labour Triumphs: Britain at the Polls (New Jersey, 1998), p. 177. 82. Robin Oakley and Nicholas Wood, ‘Thatcher aims at Labour hold on inner cities’, The Times, 13 June 1987. 83. Caroline Daniel, ‘The class of ’97’, New Statesman, May 1997, Special Edition, p. 102. 84. Frederick Wirt, ‘Suburbs and politics in America’, Publius, 5/1, 1975, pp. 121–44. 85. John Berlau, ‘Al Gore’s war on the suburbs’, Investor’s Business Daily, 16 February 1999: on http://www.sepp.org/controv/goreswar.html (September, 2000)

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Suburban Century 86. Anon., ‘NY soccer moms who backed Bill Clinton now seem wary of Hillary’: on http://www.voter.excite….sdetails/html (April, 2000). 87. Andrew Marr, ‘Life on the edge’, The Observer, 9 January 2000. See also the CNN website. 88. Anne McElvoy, ‘Fanatic of the focus groups’, The Independent, 22 July 2000; Philip Webster and Roland Watson, ‘Labour stronger than at 1997 poll, says Blair’, The Times, 24 July 2000. 89. Ivor Crewe, ‘How the suburbs turned red’, New Statesman, 4 June 2001, pp. 19–20.

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Past, Present and Future

–9– Past, Present and Future: Some Conclusions and Connections This book began by posing the question debated by two American historians, Robert L. Fishman and Kenneth T. Jackson. In 1987 they asked: which of the two countries is the more ‘suburban’, the United States or England? It is perhaps wiser to sidestep the debate about which country is the ‘more suburban’ and to conclude that both the United States and England are highly suburbanized nations. Within this broad truth, however, there are some important similarities and also some differences, both major and minor, between circumstances in the two countries. Chapter one emphasized that a comparative history assists in posing new questions, in defining historical problems, in separating necessary and contingent factors, and identifying broad patterns, ‘and testing the validity of both specific and general hypotheses’.1 The conclusion is the place to do this. When we consider key differences, perhaps the first to note is that the United States developed a more powerful and expansive suburban dynamic as the century wore on. American suburban developments began the twentieth century largely influenced by English models of suburban town planning. By the century’s end, however, American patterns of urbanization were more inclined to shape the new forms of English urban-fringe growth than vice versa. The post-1967 new city of Milton Keynes, ‘the little Los Angeles in Buckinghamshire’, threw this into sharp relief. And as that example indicates, the descriptors often reflected Americanization: ‘silicon valley’ and ‘edge city’ were originally American terms. As Jackson maintained, the United States manifested to a much greater degree than England the new types of post-war growth: the mass-housing subdivisions, the huge rise of metropolitan suburbanization, and the onset of ‘exurban’ or ‘megalapolitan’ low-density suburbia during the years after 1970. For Fishman, England did not really experience these new directions in post-war suburban growth to any significant degree.2 England’s definitive suburban boom occurred in the 1920s and 1930s. To be sure, and here is a point that qualifies both Fishman’s and Jackson’s arguments, England did experience ‘edge-city’ growth, but it was less extensive, and more subject to post-war planning controls, than that in the United States. After all, land availability is much less and costs are generally higher in England. – 191 –

Suburban Century Furthermore, America’s rapid suburban expansion during the twentieth century, and notably since 1945, was related to the faster rate of economic growth and prosperity of the United States, and to a faster-growing population than that in England. Again, England’s economy and population expanded throughout the twentieth century, but more slowly. Other key differences, as we saw, were manifested in the social experience and the social consequences of suburbanization. The suburban aspiration in the United States was largely centred upon the enjoyment of large single-family detached homes, whereas in England the ‘suburban semi’ symbolized suburban dwellings. This was a consequence of the greater affluence and cheaper land values of the United States, because of lower densities of people per acre. Both countries had a variety of suburban housing, however, but the cultural symbol of suburbia continued to be the detached home in the United States, and the varieties of semi-detached home in England. Other differences reflected the variations and divergences in the historical context of the two countries. African American and Asian suburbanization, for example, was absolutely greater in extent in the United States because of the larger populations of these groups in America. It was, however, also due to the civil-rights legislation that was pioneered there in response to two major problems. One was the racial exclusion practices against African Americans adopted by many incorporated suburbs. But by far the largest problem, and itself related to this issue of exclusion, lay in the greater levels and longevity of black-ghetto concentration in the United States. The black ghetto had been in existence there since before the First World War, as a consequence of the great internal migration of African Americans from the southern states to the industrial north. Subsequently, black migration had stimulated white flight in the United States from an earlier time, too. In England, the white suburban migration was not stimulated by racial issues until the mass immigration of African Caribbeans and Asians during the 1950s and 1960s. And even then, sociologists argued, England managed to avoid the depth and extent of segregated housing and the ghetto that pockmarked American cities. The greater availability of public housing in the form of council housing for poorer groups was a major reason, but not the only one, for this. Another reason was the increasing affluence of many black households. (The ending of council-housing building by the Conservative Governments of the 1980s thus begs an important question: might England replicate some of the post-war urban racial difficulties in the United States? The rapid rise of a gun culture in England, and the sense of exclusion from mainstream affluence and improved housing in many poor urban areas, so prominent in the news in 2003, might suggest that these are early symptoms of a new housing crisis.) Stages in the adaptation cycle of immigrants was also a factor explaining suburban settlement pattern: Asians in the United States, for example, most of – 192 –

Past, Present and Future whom had migrated to the country since 1970, did not settle in distinctive innerurban communities, but in Vietnamese and Korean communities in suburban counties. Therefore, they largely bypassed the inner city. In England, however, Indians tended to concentrate more readily in inner cities before their suburban migration occurred. Pakistanis remained more wedded to poorer housing areas. To some extent, the earlier wave of migration from the British Commonwealth and of settlement during the 1950s and 1960s helps to explain this major difference from the Asian-American pattern. So too does the poorer economic capacity of 1950s and 1960s Asians in Britain. Since the 1970s, however, Indian suburbanization increased greatly as families grew wealthier, had children and became more integrated into English society. As for the major similarities, we can identify the following significant broad patterns with some certainty. As Chapter 2 showed, by the year 2000, the suburbs were essential to economic and technological growth and change in the United States and England. Chapter 3 illustrated that many millions of people in both countries had pursued the dream of, and were living in, a home in the suburbs. And many people, moreover, lived in a suburban-style new town. The majority of the populations in both countries also enjoyed home ownership. Those people were not only white and middle-class. The multi-cultural dynamic in suburbia had grown apace during the second half of the twentieth century. This was, as noted, most strongly in evidence among the Jewish and Asian middle classes, and to a lesser extent the Black middle classes. Nonetheless it was also shared among working-class or blue-collar ethnic-minority groups. The suburbanization of Jews in both countries was central to the emerging diversity of suburbia, and it evidenced strikingly similar patterns on both sides of the Atlantic. Jews had emigrated to England and the United States during the later nineteenth century, and again during the 1930s. They established distinctively Jewish communities in the major metropolitan areas of the United States and England. The out-migration of middle-class Jews had begun in both countries prior to the First World War, and would continue throughout the inter-war period, and into the post-war years. By 1970, the Jewish population of both countries was largely middle-class, and suburban. In both England and the United States, serious concern had been shown about the condition of women in the suburbs. Sociologists, psychologists and cultural critics had argued that a woman’s place in suburbia was an unhappy one. It was – and remains – certainly true that they were not always perfectly well served by their suburban home and neighbourhood: disadvantages to do with mobility and access to services were particularly prominent. Some women undoubtedly experienced adaptation problems as they moved from one home to a new suburb. – 193 –

Suburban Century Nonetheless, American and English women did not permanently lapse into tranquilized passivity. In spite of difficulties, millions and millions of women had decided that they liked suburban homes, and they dwelt there in preference to living in other parts of the city. Both women and men, moreover, to greater or lesser degrees, and depending on inclination, income and education, engaged in social lives that were not meaningless, as cultural critics of the 1950s had implied. Their social lives were based upon choice. And those choices were, in turn, based upon a negotiation of individualism with neighbourliness, and influenced by a wide variety of factors: gender, ethnicity, class, income levels, age, interests and tastes. The social life of the suburbs was in large part the social life of the American and English nations: it had become more diverse over the post-war period, and less localized, perhaps, but it was by no means devoid of localism. ‘Community without propinquity’, moreover, took many forms that were widely and increasingly in evidence in American and English suburbs and new towns. Countless numbers of interest groups and associations, formal and informal, were the nuclei of this pattern of social interaction. In politics, too, the suburban influence was strongly evident in party strategies for winning elections. The party systems of the United States and England were different, but during the 1950s and again in the 1980s and 1990s, the nature and pattern of suburban voting trends were avidly read by party political analysts in order to mould policies to win elections. Those trends, however, were by the end of the century rarely reducible to the crabbed and reactionary conservatism associated by American Liberals with Democratic voting, and by British Socialists with the Tory constituency. This was because suburban diversity had effectively produced an electorate that reflected aspirant middle-class and upwardly mobile working-class values. Yet as the suburban century came to an end, many writers and cultural critics were arguing that suburbia itself was coming to an end, that any shards of legitimacy it once might have had were increasingly discredited. How true is this?

Is Suburbia Coming to the End of its Legitimate ‘Shelf Life’? A number of influential professional planners, architects and journalists think that the suburbs will soon die. Some have argued this, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. In the United States, the Chair of Harvard University’s Urban Design Program, Alex Krieger, has stated that ‘the suburban century is near exhaustion and near its end’. He went on to argue that there was ‘a dissatisfaction with suburbia and a fascination with inner cities’.3 There is nothing new in such a polemical position. During the late 1950s, powerful critics of suburbia such as William H.

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Past, Present and Future Whyte discerned a back-to-the-city mood. ‘There are definite signs of a small but significant move back from suburbia’, Whyte stated wistfully, in the face of flood to the suburbs.4 Like Whyte, Krieger and many other leaders in urban design want to engineer the American people away from the suburbs and back to the centres; they also wish to change the nature of new suburbs, to make them denser in population, and less dependent on cars. A powerful attempt to alter the tenor of American suburbia is to be seen in the so-called ‘new urbanism’. Peter Calthorpe, a leading American advocate of new urbanism, has appropriated suburban diversity for his own ends. Many millions of varying types of household live in the suburbs in addition to the classic white nuclear-family-type household. But Calthorpe prefers to reason that social change has outstripped the classic suburban single-family home. In addition to changes in household composition, Calthorpe fastens upon environmentalism and the problems of suburban car usage, and the continuing land hunger of suburban real-estate developers. His solutions are to encourage greater variety in transportation, notably via pedestrian schemes and higher densities which make public transportation systems more viable.5 That means higher densities across the entire metropolitan area, in suburbs as well as cities. And that, in turn, means more houses per hectare, and smaller gardens. ‘The American Dream’, argues Calthorpe, must be ‘redefined’. Americans must learn to use cars less, and come to terms with smaller accommodation. The benefits will be cleaner – and allegedly more communal – cities. Tom Martinson, who takes a very different view of the American Dream, does not doubt that cities can be better, more efficiently run places. But he does question some of the consequences of the new urbanism on American suburbs. During the late 1990s, Martinson visited Kentlands, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC designed on new urbanist principles. Although he ‘did indeed see a few people walking’, they were mostly children. There were ‘far more cars driving out of this “walkable” subdivision and into the nearby full shopping centre parking lot across the road’.6 Thus property developers, as one American historian has recently observed: [have] to be very enlightened to tackle the risks involved in a New Urbanist community, particularly as ample profits are still to be made from Old Suburbanist communities . . .7

In strikingly similar terms, a study based on the ‘stated preferences’ of people living in the English city of Sheffield, and of Cardiff in South Wales, produced findings that challenged the current drive to high-density and mixed-use neighbourhoods in England. The authors note that currently there is an assumption that households ‘will be happy to live in more compact and diverse urban environments’ and that building companies will be willing to build them: ‘The experience to date suggests that these assumptions are not necessarily well founded.’8 – 195 –

Suburban Century In England, the chief antagonist of the suburbs is the esteemed global architect and Peer of the Realm, Richard Rogers. Lord Rogers has used his lofty position to call for an end to suburban growth. For a number of years now, in broadsheet newspapers, in political journals, and in highbrow publications on the city, Rogers repeatedly presented himself as the saviour of ‘our cities’.9 This was not surprising. After all, he had been appointed by the Labour Government as the Head of the Task Force on Urban Regeneration. This published its much-heralded Towards an Urban Renaissance in 1998. Rogers is either unwittingly confused by contradictions, or guilty of bad faith, or both. Towards an Urban Renaissance admits that ‘some English suburbs are among the most popular and successful forms of the twentieth century’. But the English suburbs must be redesigned or ‘retrofitted’ around new principles of ‘sustainable development’, argue Rogers and his team: ‘They will particularly benefit from being analysed and re-thought in terms of the urban design principles’ outlined in Towards an Urban Renaissance.10 The popularity, or otherwise, of altering such successful and affectionately regarded housing schemes does not bother Rogers. That is because he is, ultimately, much more concerned with the city centres than with the suburbs. Rogers deplores the notion that the future belongs to the suburbs, even though the tide is against him.11 He has called for the city centres of England to be ‘crammed’ with more people in order to tempt them away from the suburbs.12 This seems to cut against the very grain of suburban history. More than that, historically, the cramming of the city centres was a major stimulus to the suburban counter-reaction. As we have seen, it stimulated the suburban aspiration, and hence suburbanization. There are further problems inherent within the Urban Renaissance debate. The Task Force report of 1998 largely ignores the English new towns, and thus misses the opportunity to learn from them. The recent history of Milton Keynes, notably, contains much information about what went right and wrong in town planning since 1970. Instead, the Rogers Report contains a foreword by the ex-Mayor of Barcelona. Some town planners have been critical of the lacunae in the Rogers Report, and sceptical of the idea that increasing the densities of city centres can reverse the tide of suburbanization.13 In a timely piece of work, notably, the Civic Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation argued strongly that in suburban England, ‘where a majority of the urban population live’, there was a need to regenerate declining suburbs, and not just concentrate on city centres. The report notes that ‘the UK experience of suburban development is very similar to the American one. Models of suburban development have crossed the Atlantic – just as other social and economic developments have.’14 To ignore or underestimate the Anglo-American experience is to ignore so much of significance in the past, present and future of the suburbs. More than that, it is also clear from the Civic Trust report that an urban – 196 –

Past, Present and Future renaissance largely concerned with the middle of the city is doomed to massive incompleteness before it even begins. If the current architects of the urban revitalisation in the United States and England pay insufficient attention to the demonstrable social values and practical successes in the suburban phenomenon, they may well end up alienating, rather than serving, those whom they purport to both speak and design for. It is more plausible to conclude that as one suburban century comes to an end, another one is beginning. This continuum, it follows, should be treated sympathetically and imaginatively. Planners and architects should certainly divest themselves of any idea that the suburbs are still white, middle-class and nucleated placeless places. They could acknowledge and respect what is good, and promote it further. They might even want to repair or abolish what has gone wrong. This goes for the whole city. Whether people live in the centres or – as most urban dwellers do – in suburbs, they deserve a residential environment free from decline and despair. That was why they moved to the suburbs in the first place.

Notes 1. David Englander, ‘Introduction’, in David Englander (ed.), Britain and America: Studies in Comparative History, 1760–1970 (New Haven and London, 1997), p. ix. 2. Robert L. Fishman, ‘American suburbs/English suburbs: a transatlantic comparison’, Journal of Urban History, 13/3, 1987, pp. 237–51; Kenneth T. Jackson, ‘Suburbanisation in England and North America: a response to “transatlantic comparison”’, Journal of Urban History, 13/3, 1987, pp. 302–6. 3. Quoted in Paul Burall, ‘Connections’, Town and Country Planning, August/ September, 1998, inside back cover. 4. William H. Whyte, ‘Are cities un-American?’, in Fortune, the editors of, The Exploding Metropolis (New York, 1958), p. 24. 5. Peter Calthorpe, The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community and the American Dream (New York, 1993), pp. 9–17. 6. Tom Martinson, American Dreamscape: The Pursuit of Happiness in Postwar Suburbia (New York, 2000), p. 113. 7. Peter Mandler, ‘Satan in the suburbs’, Times Literary Supplement, 8 December 2000, p. 4. 8. Nia Blank, Martyn Senior and Chris Webster, ‘Mixed use, densification and public choice’, in Yvonne Rydin and Andy Thornley (eds), Planning in the UK: Agendas for the New Millennium (Aldershot, 2002), p. 337. – 197 –

Suburban Century 9. David Lister, ‘Labour peer Rogers sets out his vision for an urban revolution’, The Independent, 21 May 1997; Richard Rogers, ‘Save our cities’, The Observer, 13 February 2000. 10. Urban Task Force, Towards an Urban Renaissance: Final Report of the Urban Task Force Chaired by Lord Rogers of Riverside (London, 1998), p. 51. 11. Brian Groom, ‘Suburbs face population boom’, Financial Times, 5–6 December 1998. 12. Richard Rogers and Richard Burdett, ‘Let’s cram more into the city’, New Statesman, 22 May 2000, p. 25; Richard Rogers and Richard Burdett, ‘Let’s cram more into the city’, in Marcial Echenique and Andrew Saint (eds), Cities for the New Millennium (London, 2001), pp. 9–14. 13. Katie Williams, ‘The wrong starting point’, Town and Country Planning, September 1999, p. 263. 14. Michael Gwilliam, Caroline Bourne, Corinne Swain and Anna Prat, Sustainable Renewal of Suburban Areas (York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 1998), p. 6.

– 198 –

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Index

Index Abigail’s Party, 12 Abrams, Charles, 71 Abrams, Mark, 171, 172 Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The, 12 African Americans, 6, 16, 23, 43, 59, 70, 71, 79–84, 88–9, 92–6, 148, 192 (see also black suburbanization, England) Age Exchange, London, 54 American Civil Liberties Union, 161 American Dream and suburbanization, 10, 52, 62 American Dreamscape, 52 American Legion, 148 American Veterans Committee, 148 Anglo-American tradition of suburban town planning, 121 Anglo-Scandinavian style in domestic architecture, England, 68 anti-urbanism (England), 51, 52–8 anti-urbanism (US), 51, 58–63 Architectural Record, 65, 143 Asians, 16, 107, 114–15, 120–21, 192–3 Chinese, England, 117, 118–19 Chinese, US, 114, 116 Filipinos, US, 114, 116 Indians, England, 114, 117–18 Indians, US, 114 Japanese, England, 119–20 Japanese, US, 114, 115 Koreans, US, 114, 116, 193 Pakistanis, England, 114, 117–18 Vietnamese, Australia, 116 Vietnamese, US, 114, 116, 193 associations, England, 156–60 associations, US, 147–56 Atlanta, Georgia, 71, 94 Australia, 14, 64, 116 automobiles (see automobile suburbs; cars) automobile suburbs, US, 25–7, 60

Avenue Story, The, 54 Aylesbury, England, 97 Babbit, 59 Bagge, Peter, 12 Baldassare, Mark, 7, 63 Banton, Michael, 87 Barbecues, 66 Barker Brothers, Los Angeles department store, 31–2 Barker, Paul, 10, 38, 57–8 Barnet, north London, 119, 169 Basildon, England, 182, 185 Bauer, Catherine, 70 Baxendall, Rosalyn and Ewen, Elizabeth, 6, 62, 79 Beatles, The, 173 Beauchamp, Suzanne, 129, 133, 158 Bedford Park Suburb, London, 72 bedroom suburbs US, 25 Belfast, Northern Ireland, 108 Bell, Daniel, 30, 34 Bentley, Ian, 8 Bergen County, New Jersey, 130–1 Berger, Bennett M., 52, 151, 176 Berkeley, California, 115 Bethnal Green, east London, 144 Betjeman, John, 27, 172 Bevan, Aneurin, 55 Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 26, 72 Bexley, Kent, 23 Bhabha, Homi, 169 Birkenhead (near Liverpool), 40 Birmingham, Alabama, 92 Birmingham, England, 9, 72, 87, 91, 97 Black Metropolis, The, 92 black suburbanization, England, 79–80, 85–7, 89–92, 96–9, 192 (see also African Americans; Kru, Liverpool, England) Blair, Tony, 184, 185

– 227 –

Index Bless This House, 12 Bletchley, England, 56 Bloom, Nicholas Dagen, 6, 95, 155 blue-collar suburbs, US (see working-class suburbs, US) Blumin, Stuart, 9, 169 Blur, 13 ‘Boltwood’, northern England, 156–7 Bonzo Dog Band, 13 Booth, Charles, 108 Boston, Massachusetts, 22 Bournville, Birmingham, England, 72 Bowie, David, 13 Bracey, H. E., 134, 152 Bradleys, The, 12 Brent Cross Shopping Centre, London, 37 Brief Encounter, 11, 125 British Home Stores, 35 British Legion, 157 Bristol, England, 35, 118, 134–5 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 13, 70, 171 Brixton, South London, 99 Bromley, South London, 97 Brookside, 13 Brown, Gordon, 184 Brown versus Board of Education (US), 70 Bryson, Bill, 31, 38 Buddha of Suburbia, The, 13 Buffalo, New York State, 175, 176 building societies, England, 35, 86 bungalows, England, 67 bungalows, US, 64 Burney, Elizabeth, 85–6 Burton’s and Meaker’s, tailors, England, 35 Bury St. Edmunds, East Anglia, 41 buses, England, 35, 135, 138 Bush Sr, George, 131 bussing crisis, US, 70 California, 62, 66, 115, 116–17, 151, 155, 176, 178 Calthorpe, Peter, 195 Camden, New Jersey, 84 Canada, 14, 112–13, 131, 145–6, 156 Cannadine, David, 24 Cantor, Norman F. and Cantor, Mindy, 13 Cape Cod style in domestic architecture, US, 64

Cardiff, South Wales, 87, 118, 182, 195 cars, 6, 14, 16, 25–8, 36, 60, 99, 135, 159 Carter, James Earl, 179 Carthage, Tennessee, 180 cartoons, 12 Catholics, and Democrat vote in US, 176 Central Housing Advisory Committee (CHAC), England, 86–7 Chave, Sidney, 129 Cheetham Hill, Manchester, England, 108–9, 110 Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, 22, Chicago, 22, 26, 58, 62, 72, 80, 88–9, 92, 95, 111–12, 133, 144 Chicago School of Sociology, 80, 90 children, England, 70, 128 children, US, 70, 130, 150, 156 Chinese (see Asians) churches, England, 152 churches, US, 148, 152 Cicero riots, Chicago, 88–9, 90 Cincinnati, Ohio, 60, 63, 175 cinema and suburbia, 11–12 Citizen Smith, 12 Civic Trust, England, 196 civil rights, 43, 93, 161 Clark, Colin, 34 Clark, Petula, 36 Cleveland, Ohio, 26, 64, 72, 133, 175 Clinton, Bill, 179–80, 184 Clinton, Hillary Rodham, 180, 185 Collins, Sydney, 96 colonial styles in domestic architecture, US, 63–4 Columbia, Maryland, 42, 95, 155 Columbus, Ohio, 36, 134–5 Commission for New Towns, England, 119 Conservative Party, England, 169, 170, 182 Conservatism of suburbs, 169 Co-operative shops, England, 35 Corden, Carol, 42 council housing, England, 41, 55–6, 71, 170, 182 (see also working class suburbs, England; public housing projects, US) Cowley Centre, Oxford, 37 Crabgrass Frontier (see Jackson, Kenneth T.) ‘Craftown’, New York, 145 Crawley, England, 127–8 ‘Crawley neurosis’, 127–8

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Index Cressey, Paul Frederick, 80, 111 Crestwood Heights, Toronto, Canada, 112–13 Crewe, Ivor, 185 Crosland, C.A.R., 171, 172 Croydon, South London, 97, 128 Crystal City, Virginia, 33 Cullingworth, J.B., 86–7 Cuomo, Mario, 179 Dagenham, England, 38 Daily Telegraph, England, 58, 90 Davis, Ian, 8 Dawn of the Dead, 11 definitions of suburbs, 2–5 Delderfield, R. F., 54 Democratic Leadership Council, US, 179–80 Democrat Party, US, 16–17, 112, 169–70, 174–81, 184, 185, 194 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 43, 84 Derby, England, 97 Detroit, Michigan, 175 Dewhursts, butchers, England, 35 Division of Slum Clearance and Urban Redevelopment, US (DSCUR), 83 divorce, 135, 136 domestic architecture, England, 66–9 domestic architecture, US, 63–6 dormitory suburbs, England, 28 Dos Passos, John, 129 Douglass, Harlan, 58 Dudley, Birmingham, England, 97 Dukakis, Michael, 179, 180 ‘Dunroamin’, 8, 27, 54, 67 (see also domestic architecture, England; semi-detached houses, England) Durant, Ruth (see also Glass, Ruth), 156 Dyck, Isobel, 155 Dyos, H. J., 7 edge city, US, 9–10, 27, 33, 63, 94 edge city, England, 38 Edgware, London (see also ‘Watling’), 109, 110, 147 Edwardian suburbs, England, 23–4, 53 Edwards, Arthur, 8 Ehrenhalt, Alan, 144–5 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 84, 176

electricity, 29 Eliot, T. S., 143 Elmwood Park, Chicago, 26 embourgeoisement of working classes, US, 174 embourgeoisement of working classes, England, 171 Empire Windrush, 80 Encounter, 171 England, Kim, 155 Englander, David, 15 estate agents, England, 85–6 Etzioni, Amitai, 160, 161 Evanston, Illinois, 65 expanded towns, England, 40–1 Express and United Dairy Company, England, 35 Fairfax County, Virginia, 33, 116 Faithfull, Marianne, 125 Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, The, 13 Family and Class in a London Suburb, 144 Family and Kinship in East London, 127, 144 Family Man, The, 11 Father Knows Best, 12 Fava, Sylvia Fleis, 137, 150, 155 Federal Housing Administration, US, 43, 65, 82, 83 Federated Garden Clubs of New York State, 66 Feminine Mystique, The, 130 Fishman, Robert L., 4, 5, 7, 191 Florida, 71 Ford Foundation, 133 Ford Motors, 62, 176 Forest Park, Ohio, 154 (see also Greenhills, Ohio) Form, William H., 149 Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The, 12 Friedan, Betty, 130 Full Monty, The, 38 Fyvel, Tosca, 144 Gaitskell, Hugh, 173, 184 Gans, Herbert J., 62, 65, 89, 111–12, 113–14, 132–3, 145, 150, 154 garden cities, 4, 60 Gardeners World, 69 Gardening Club, 69 gardens and gardening, England, 68–9, 156, 158

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Index gardens and gardening, US, 66, 148 garden suburbs England, 72 (see also romantic suburbs, USA) Garreau, Joel, 9–10, 33, 38, 63, 94 ghetto, US, 192 Glasgow, Scotland, 14 Glass, Ruth, (neé Durant) 52, 90 Golders Green, North London, 108 Gordon, Albert I. (Rabbi), 114 Gordon, Katherine and Richard, 130–1 Gore, Al, 179–80, 185 Gore, Tipper, 180 Good Life, The, 12 Gould, Philip, 180, 183–4 Graves, Robert, and Hodge, Alan, 35 Great Society Programme, US, 84 Greed, Clara, 138 Greenbelt, Maryland, 41, 60, 66, 82, 148–9, 150 (see also greenbelt towns) Greenbelt Co-operator, 149 greenbelt towns, 16, 41–3, 60, 66, 148–9 Greenberg, Stanley, 180 Greendale, Wisconsin, 41, 60, 66, 148 (see also greenbelt towns) Greenhills, Ohio, 41, 60, 145, 154 (see also greenbelt towns) Growing Pains, 12 Guardian, The, (England), 169, 182 Gulf Oil Corporation, 159 Gunther, Max, 130 Hall, Stuart, 183 Hammond, Albert, 13 Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, 72, 108, 183 Hancock’s Half Hour, 12 Handlin, Oscar, 111 Happy Ever After, 12 Harlow, England, 128, 153 Harper’s Magazine, US, 145 Harris, Richard, 3, 9 Haynes, Sir George, 153 Healey and Baker, 38 Hernandez, Gilbert, 12 Hertzberg, Arthur, 114 High Hopes, 12 Highway Act, US, 1956, 27 Hillcrest Heights, Washington DC, 93

Hispanics, US, 71, 115 Hitchens, Peter, 160 Hoggart, Richard, 160, 161 home ownership, England, 41, 67, 182–3 (see also mortgages, England) home ownership, US, 135, 154 (see also mortgages, US) Hong Kong Chinese, England (see Asians: Chinese, England) Hoover, Herbert, 175 Hot Springs, Arkansas, 180 Housing Act 1919, UK, 4, 85 Housing Act 1949, US, 61, 83 Housing Act 1961, US, 93 Housing Act 1968, US, 43, 93 Housing Act 1970, US, 43 Housing and Home Finance Agency (HHFA), US, 83 Howard, Ebenezer, 4, 60 Hughes, Everett, C., 92, 94 Ideal Home Exhibition, London, 1923, 67 Ilford, East London, 108 incorporated suburbs, US, 3, 95–6 Industrial Selection Scheme, England, 56 Inner cities, England, 184 Institute of Community Studies, England, 57 Institute of Race Relations, England, 80 International Stores, England, 35 Interstate road programme, 27 (see also motorways, England), Irish, 120, 151 Irvine, California, 116–17, 155 Italians, 120 It’s a Wonderful Life, 11 Jackson, Alan A., 9 Jackson, Jesse, 179 Jackson, Kenneth T., 4, 5, 22, 52, 66, 70, 145, 191 Jackson, Samuel C., 43 Japanese (see Asians) Jews, England, 16, 24, 107–10, 172, 193 Jews, US, 16, 23, 81, 107–8, 110–14, 148, 149, 150, 176, 193 Jick, Leon, 114 Jim Crow, racial discrimination in the US, 80 John Lewis department stores, England, 37

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Index Liberty City, Florida, 71 Life is Sweet, 12 Lipset, Seymour Martin, 176 Listener, The, 84 Little Rock, Arkansas, 90 Liverpool, England, 40, 67, 80, 85, 89, 118 Llewelyn-Davies, Weeks, Forestier-Walker, and Bor (consultants to Milton Keynes Development Corporation), 158 Llewelyn Park, New Jersey, 21 London, 8, 23, 24, 28, 35, 54, 72, 89, 91, 96, 97, 108, 109, 118, 127, 128, 171–3, 183 London County Council, 54, 128 London Labour Party, 171–3 London News, 172 Los Angeles, California, 12, 115 Love and Rockets, 12 Lubin, Carol R., 133, 152–3 Luton, England, 157–8 Lynd, Robert and Lynd, Helen, 25, 59

Johnson, Louise, 155 Johnson, Lyndon B., 43, 84, 173 Jonathan, Minnesota, 43–4 Joseph Rowntree Foundation, England, 196 Journal of Historic Geography, 29 Jurassic Park, 11 Kalamazoo, Michigan, 176 Kansas City, 32 Keating, Ann Durkin, 95, 96 Keeping Up Appearances, 13 Keller, Suzanne, 136 Kenan and Kel 12 Kennedy, John F., 84, 173 Kentlands, Maryland, 195 Kerner Commission, US, 84 King of the Hill, 12 Kinnock, Neil, 183 Klutznick, Philip M., 143 K-Mart supermarkets, US, 32 Koreans (see Asians) Kosmin, Barry, 109 Krausz, Ernest, 110 Krieger, Alex, 194, 195 Kristol, Irving, 171 Kru (Africans), Liverpool, 80, 85 Ku Klux Klan, 88 Kuznet, David, 179 Labour Party, England, 16–17, 169–73, 181–6, 194, 196 Lake Forest, Chicago, 22 Lancet, The, 126 Lansill, John, 41 Larkham, Peter J., 9 Lawrence, Ethel, 95 Leamington Spa, 91 Leave it to Beaver, 12 Leeds, England, 23, 109 Leigh, Mike, 12 Leisure, 16 Letchworth, Hertfordshire, 4, 39, 55 Levitt, William, 62 Levittown, Long Island, 174 Levittown, Pennsylvania, 62, 89, 92–3, 113–14, 150, 175, 178 Levittowners, The, 65, 71, 145 Lewis, Sinclair, 59

MacFisheries, England, 35 Macomb County, Michigan, 180 Macy’s Department store, US, 33 Madge, John, 153 Major, John, 183 Malcolm in the Middle, 12 malls (see retail; shopping and shops) Manchester, England 53, 68, 91, 108–9, 117, 147 Mandelson, Peter, 183, 184 Manfred Mann, 125 Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, The, 11 Manufacturing, decline of, 30, 39 Marcus, Claire Cooper, 136 Marks and Spencers department stores, England, 35 Marr, Andrew, 185 Married…With Children, 12 Martinson, Tom, 10, 52, 195 Maryland, 93, 155, 195 Mass Observation, 55 Masterman, C. F. G., 53 MC5, 13 Meadow Hall Shopping Centre, Sheffield, 38 Members, The, 13 Merton, Robert K., 145 Metro Centre, Gateshead, 38

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Index Miami, Florida, 71 Middle America, 170, 178, 179–81 Middle Class, The (rock band), 13 middle-class suburbs, England, 3, 4, 41, 53–4, 69–70, 71, 72, 108, 162, 171–3, 183 middle-class suburbs, US, 3, 4, 32, 66, 69–70, 71, 72, 161, 174–77, 178, 179–81 Middle England, 170, 181–5 Middlesex, England, 35, 171–3 Midlands, England, 37, 39 Middletown, 25, 59 Mievre style in domestic architecture, England, 67 Milpitas, California, 62, 151, 176, 178 Milton Keynes, England, 37–8, 68, 117–18, 119, 129, 133, 158–60, 191, 196 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 61, 175 Ministry of Housing and Local Government, England, 86 Ministry of Town and Country Planning, England, 39–40 Minneapolis, Minnesota, 10, 33, 151–2 Mitchell, Clarence, 88 Mogey, J. M., 157 Monterey Park, California, 116 Montgomery County, suburb of Washington DC, 116 Morgan, Rhodri, 182 Morris, William, 64 Morrison, Herbert, 183 mortgages, England, 27 (see also home ownership, England) mortgages, US, 61, 65, 83 (see also home ownership, US) motorways, England, 28 Mount Laurel, New Jersey, 84, 95 Moynihan, Daniel Patrick, 84, 99 Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House, 11 multicultural suburbia, 120–1 Mumford, Lewis, 5 Murphy, H. B. M., 132 Myrdal, Gunnar, 82 Nassau County, New York, 112 National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), 70, 88, 93, 161 National Council of Social Services, 153

National Housing Agency, US, 61 neighbourhood unit, England, 40, 158 neighbourhood unit, US, 60, 158 neighbouring, England, 146–7, 150 neighbouring, US, 145–6, 150, 152 Neo-Georgian style in domestic architecture, England, 67 Newbury Park, London, 108 New and Expanded Towns Scheme, England, 56 Newcastle, England, 97 New Deal, US, 41–2, 82, 148 New England, 58 New Jersey, 26, 40, 41, 72, 84, 95, 130–1, 136, 154 New Statesman, 58 Newsweek, 65 New town blues, England, 16, 126, 127–9, 133 New town blues, US, 16, 133 New Towns Acts, England, 40, 55 New towns, England, 21, 39–41, 152 New towns, US, 21, 152 New Urbanism, 195–6 New York, 22, 95, 112, 133, 145, 150, 175, 185 Nichols, Jesse Clyde, 32 nineteenth-century suburbs, US, 21–3, 24, 58–9, 63 (see also Edwardian suburbs, England, Victorian suburbs, England) Nixon, Richard, 43, 84 Nordstrom Department stores, US, 33 Northern Ireland, 14 Nottingham, England, 37, 91, 97 Notting Hill riots, London, 90 Oakland, California, 115 O’Brien, Conor Cruse, 179 oil Crisis, 1973, 30, 43 Oliver, Paul, 8 Omaha, Nebraska, 133 One Foot in the Grave, 13 Open University, England, 108 Orange County, California, 116 Orwell, George, 54 Oxford, England, 37, 71, 157 Packard, Vance, 174–5, 176 Palen, J. John, 5–6, 72

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Index Parent and Teacher Associations (PTAs), England, 158 Parent and Teacher Associations (PTAs), US, 148, 151, 161 Park Forest, Illinois, 43, 112, 143, 174 Partisan Review, The, US, 171 Peckham, South London, 87 Peets, Elbert, 60 Pennsylvania, 62 Pentagon City, Virginia, 33 Pet Shop Boys, The, 13 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 22, 62, 111, 175 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 175 Police, The (rock band), 13 Political and Economic Planning (PEP), England, 156 Poltergeist, 11 popular music and suburbia, 13 post-industrial economy, 29–30 Powell, Colin, 95 prefabricated housing, England, 55 prefabricated housing, US, 61 President’s Research Committee on Social Trends, 26 Preston bypass, England, 28 Prince George’s County, Maryland, 93 privacy, 134–5 public housing projects, US, 71

Regional Planning Association of America, 26, 41 Reilly, Sir Charles, 40 Reisman, David, 6 Republican Party, US, 174, 176–7, 179 Resettlement Administration (RA), US, 41, 60, 82 (see also Greenbelt towns) Reston, Virginia, 42, 65, 95, 133, 152–4, 155, 158, 159 retail, England, 35–8 (see also shopping and shops, England) retail, US, 31–3 (see also shopping and shops, US) Richards, J. M. (Sir James Richards), 67 Richmond, California, 62 Riesman, David, 130 Rockland, New York, 112 Rodgers, Daniel T., 4 Rogers, Richard, 196 romantic suburbs US, 72 (see also garden suburbs, England; railroad suburbs, US) Rouse, James L., 95 row houses, US, 65 (see also terraced housing, England) Rush, 13 Ruskin, John, 64 Russell Sage Foundation, 114 rustbelt, US, 30–1

Queen Anne style in domestic architecture, England, 67

Saegert, Susan, 125, 137 Sainsbury’s grocers, England, 35 St. Charles, Maryland, 43 Salford (Worsley), England, 56, 128 San Diego, California, 66 San Francisco, California, 22, 31, 115 Schneider, William, 180 schools, England, 70 schools, US, 70 Scotland, 14, 39 Seabrook, Jeremy, 127 Secrets and Lies, 12 Seeger, Pete, 13 segregation, US, 81 semi-detached houses, England, 52, 67, 125, 192 Sennett, Richard and Cobb, Jonathan, 131–2 service sector in economy, England, 34–9 service sector in economy, US, 29–33

Raab, Earl, 176 Race Relations Act 1976, England, 98 Radburn, New Jersey, 26, 40, 41 radio, 26 railroad suburbs, US, 21–2 railways, England, 24, 27–8 Raleigh, North Carolina, 32 rancher housing, Canada, 65 ranch style housing, US, 65 Ravetz, Alison and Turkington, Richard, 10, 52 Reading, England, 9, 97 Reagan, Ronald, 170 real estate agents, US, 85 (see also estate agents, England) redlining (US), 82 Rees, Merlyn, 172–3, 174, 181, 183

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Index Sex Pistols, 13 Shaker Heights, Cleveland, 26, 72 Sheffield, England, 195 Shelton, Hilary, 93 shopping and shops, England, 35–8, 135 shopping and shops, US, 31–3, 135 Short Hills, New Jersey, 72 Sies, Mary Corbin, 69 ‘Silicon Valley’, England, 7, 34 ‘Silicon Valley’, US, 7 Silkin, Lewis, 40 Simon, Robert E. (Jnr), 65, 152, 155 Simpsons, The, 12, 131 Siouxsie and the Banshees, 125 Slater, Philip, 131–2 Slough, England, 28 Smith, Stevie, 54 Society of Women Housing Managers (England), 55 South African Garden Cities Company, 82 Southern Discomfort (England), 184 Southgate, London, 108 Spanish-style houses, US, 65 Split Level Trap, The, 132 (see also Gordon, Katherine and Richard) sports, 16, 148, 158, 161 Stanford University, California, 31 steering (informal discrimination in housing choice against blacks) 85 Stein, Clarence S., 26, 60 Stepford Wives, The, 125 Stepney, East London, 87 Stevenage, England, 153 streetcar suburbs, US, 21–3, 24 Strong-Boag, Veronica, 137, 155 Studs Kirby, 12 Suarez, Ray, 160 suburban neurosis, England, 16, 125–9 (see also suburban sadness, US) suburban persistence, 71 suburban sadness, US, 16, 125–6, 129–34 (see also suburban neurosis, England) Suede, 13, 125 sunbelt, England, 34 sunbelt, US, 59, 66, 94 Sunderland, England, 57 Sussman, Lawrence J, 112 Swindon, England, 41

Taft, Robert, 175 Takoma Park, Washington DC, 93 Taylor, Dr. Stephen, 126, 129 technoburb, 7 telephones, 29, 161 television, 171 terraced houses, England, 67 (see also row houses, US) Thatcher, Margaret, 169, 184 Thelma and Louise, 125 Thernstrom, Abigail and Stephan, 94, 116 Thetford, East Anglia, 41 Thompson, F. M. L., 7–8 Thorns, David C., 2–3 Times, The, 179 Toronto, Canada, 112–13, 145 Town and Country Planning Act, 1947 (England), 39 trams, England, 23–5 trolleys, US, 22 Tucker, James, 71 Tudor style in domestic architecture, England, 67 Tudor Walters Report, 4 Tugwell, Rexford G., 41 Twin Rivers, New Jersey, 154 Tyneside, North East England, 89 Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, 33 Veterans’ Administration, US, 61, 83 Victorian suburbs, England, 23, 24, 53, 57 Victoria Wine Company, England, 35 Vietnamese (see Asians) Wales, 14, 39 Wal-Mart supermarkets, US, 32 Waltons, The, 131 war (First World War), 4, 193 war (Second World War), 35, 55, 61, 67, 81, 129, 148 Warner, Sam Bass, 5, 22, 145 Washington Centre for Metropolitan Studies (US), 133 Washington DC, 93, 116, 133, 195 Waterman, Stanley, 109 ‘Watling’ (Edgware, London), 147, 156 Webber, Melvin, 156, 159, 162 Welwyn Garden City, England, 4, 39, 55

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Index Westchester County, New York State, 66, 112, 148 West Indians, England (see black suburbanization) ‘White flight’ England, 6, 89–92 ‘White flight’ US, 6, 88–9 W.H. Smiths newsagents, England, 35 Whitter, Jo, 97 Whyte, William H., 6, 143, 151, 174, 194 Wiese, Andrew, 6, 79, 81 Willmott, Peter and Young, Michael, 8, 127, 131 Wilson, Harold, 173 Woking, England, 183 Wood, Robert, 175 Wolfe, Alan, 160, 161 women, England, 16, 36, 125–6, 126–9, 134–8, 157, 158 (see also suburban neurosis, England; suburban sadness, US; women’s associations, clubs and groups, US; women’s associations, clubs and groups, England) women, US, 16, 125–6, 129–38, 146, 151, 155–6, 161, 176 (see also suburban neurosis,

England; suburban sadness, US; women’s associations, clubs and groups, US; women’s associations, clubs and groups, England) women’s associations, clubs and groups, England, 146, 157, 158 women’s associations, clubs and groups, US, 146, 151, 155–6, 161, 176 Wonder Years, The 12 Woolworth’s, England, 35 Working-class suburbs, US, 3, 69, 82, 151–2, 174–6, 178 Working-class suburbs, England, 3, 41, 67, 69, 127, 131, 156–8, 182 (see also council housing, England) Wright, Frank Lloyd, 64 Wright, Gwendoline, 65 Wythenshawe, Manchester, 147 Young, Michael (see Willmott, Peter and Young, Michael) Zikmund, Joseph, 177 zoning, 136

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