Between 1950 and 2000, the number of Americans living in suburbs rose from 23 percent to 50 percent of the total population, and, in a demographic sense, at the beginning of the twenty-first century the United States could truly be considered a suburbanized nation.1 The recent passing of such a milestone obscures a much longer American preoccupation, even obsession, with communities that are neither urban nor rural. The roots of this phenomenon extend back into the nineteenth century, and even automobile-oriented patterns of suburban development have now existed for well over a century. These antecedents fostered a cultural bias that increasingly linked suburban locales with the “good...

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