Suburban Nation CH 1-2 – Land of the Sprawls

“Sprawl: cookie cutter houses, wide… mindlessly curbing cul-de-sacs, [and] a streetscape of garage doors”

My neighborhood: “cookie cutter houses, wide… mindlessly curbing cul-de-sacss [and] a streetscape of garage doors”  (Duany xx).

I live in a sprawl.

The Homeowners Association faithfully conducts their meetings once a month. The yard with the nicest landscape could have the potential of winning “Yard of the Month” or “Yard of the Year”.

There’s even a house down the street, around the “mindlessly curbing cul-de-sac”, that looks nearly like mine.

This is not your “traditional” neighborhood, like Alexandria, Virginia. With it’s “six fundamental rules that distinguish it from a sprawl:

  • The Center
    • “Each neighborhood has a clear center, focused on common activities”
  • The 5 Minute Walk
    • “A local resident is rarely ore than a five minute walk from ordinary needs of daily life”
  • The Street Networkking-st-credit-r-kennedy-for-acva_8accec04-9c10-eae1-c65f5360123e0b2e
    • “Pedestrian and the driver [have] choice”
  • Narrow, versatile streets“Cars [can] drive and park while people walk”
  • Mixed Use
    • “Contrast to sprawl’s single-use zoning… of zoning… parking lots, if any, are hidden at the back” Parallel parking is also included
  • Special Sites for Special Buildings
    • “Devote unique sites to civic buildings… city achieves a physical structure that both manifests and supports its social structure”

It implements a more organic community, where everyone will be involved, as well as collaborate (15-17)

In “Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream”, authors Andrews Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck, explain the “construction… of many cities [without] memorable [or] lasting value, [where] the result doesn’t look like a place, it doesn’t act like a place, and perhaps most significantly doesn’t feel like a place” (12).

Some members of my family live on the other side of town, where neighborhoods are more traditional. The typical suburban area does not bother me. Because I have been acclimated to its amenities, living in an area that “comprise[es] the quality of life (31).

However, I do love the idea of being “in close proximity [to] all the destinations of daily life” (28).

An “open network”, that the traditional harbors, is created that reduces issues that one of a suburban area would butcher (22). Traffic/congestion is limited,  stores are just around the corner, “no-slow moving, no parking shortages, [and] no overcrowding” (19).

If you’re interested in reading about the effects of the community that you live in, Suburban Nation is quite the read.



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