Are the suburbs as we know them vanishing? Credit: themaskedman55 / Flickr Creative Commons
- Alan Ehrenhalt, author of "The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City"
- Leigh Gallagher, author of "The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving"
If you strolled around Wall Street in the 1950s, you’d see hoards of businessmen bustling about, briefcases in hand. Visit today, and the view is a little different: the businessmen are still there, but they’re accompanied by something else: strollers.
Leigh Gallagher, author of “The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving,” and Alan Ehrenhalt, author of “The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City,” say this is a trend that’s reshaping cities all over America. Once a place where people went to work - not live – younger generations are increasingly choosing to make the inner-city their home.
In the 1950s, the suburbs were the place to be: lawns, fences, and a garage for the family car. But among millennials aged 20-35, suburbs are losing their luster. “They spent the last decade sitting on sofas in the suburbs watching Sex and the City and Friends and Seinfeld,” Ehrenhalt says. “Their orientation is to urban life.”
Wall Street - and other downtown areas like it - is increasingly becoming residential, according to Gallagher and Ehrenhalt. Credit: Michael Aston / Flickr Creative Commons
Indeed, millennials are abandoning their cars and choosing metropolitan areas over the white-picket-fenced suburbs of old. While this means that previously dilapidated sections of cities are being revitalized – or, to put it another way, gentrified - it also means that prices are becoming prohibitive for people who had lived there before.
As a result, suburbia is facing an identity crisis. To appeal to younger generations, suburbs are increasingly restructuring to include the amenities of big cities – yoga studios, high-end coffee shops, fancy restaurants, and walkable downtown areas with pleasing trees and streets. The rising appeal of “hipsturbia,” as the trend has jokingly been named, suggests that while suburbs may not vanish, they will look different.
“I think suburbs can be great for the right situation,” Leigh Gallagher says. “But fewer people are going to need the kinds of suburbs we’ve built the most.”
- "Welcome to Blueburbia," Richard Florida's examination of how the inversion of cities and suburbs is changing the American political map.
- "Immobile Labor," an analysis of how high housing costs are affecting America's workers.
- "Inverting the City of Neighbourhoods," by Kevin Plummer.