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 life,” yet the full flourishing of a dominant, middle-class lifestyle wholly linked not just to the suburbs but, more to the point, to the new houses constructed in these suburbs did not occur until the decades following World War II. This postwar...

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